DROID 3 vs ThunderBolt vs iPhone 4: web browsing comparison

DROID 3 vs ThunderBolt vs iPhone 4: web browsing comparison
Continually seeing leaps in technology, the proliferation of web surfing on smartphones has been aided by network carriers aggressively expanding their data infrastructure across all four corners of the world. At first, 3G was undeniably accepted with open arms as it produced significantly faster speeds compared to the generation before it – and much like that, LTE and the myriad of 4G labeled networks are doing the same thing for our time. However, there are still other factors that come to play in profoundly earning a great web browsing experience on a smartphone. Knowing that, we decided to pick up a trio of top-notch devices and pit them against one another in a battle for web surfing supremacy.

Taking the Apple iPhone 4, HTC ThunderBolt, and Motorola DROID 3, we decided to run a few different web browsing tests to see how they stack up against each other. And to make things as fair as possible, especially when the 4G LTE enabled HTC ThunderBolt would smite the other two in raw data speed, we placed them all into airplane mode and connected them to the same Wi-Fi network. At this point, that takes out the network carriers out of the equation and mainly places the burden on the handset’s hardware and software to see which one is able to pull off the best results.

Before jumping right in, it’s worth noting the kind of hardware we’re dealing with, just because it can obviously adjust the balance of power towards one device. Specifically, the Apple iPhone 4 utilizes a single-core 1GHz Apple A4 CPU, the HTC ThunderBolt sports a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, and the Motorola DROID 3 rounds out the bunch with a much more modernized dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP 4 chipset. Not only does processor speed affect page loads in a way, but it’s also worth noting that certain customized interfaces can also be taking up precious resources that can handicap a specific device more than others.

First up, we disabled plugins from loading on the two Android powered smartphones and went ahead to load the same web page in separate windows on all three devices simultaneously. Right off the bat, the Motorola DROID 3 is able to render text and images first – with the iPhone 4 and ThunderBolt chiming in afterwards at the same time. Needless to say, it didn’t take that much time to actually display anything, but in terms of fully loading every single item on the page, the DROID 3 is able to accomplish that feat first – followed by the iPhone 4 and ThunderBolt. Running the same test, but using a different link on our site of course, the results are pretty much replicated with the DROID 3 able to display images and text first before the two.

Doing the same thing with other web sites, like the desktop versions of the New York Times and USA Today, the Motorola DROID 3 and HTC ThunderBolt are impressively able to completely load pages in about the same manner – with the iPhone 4 coming in last.

Things take a different turn when we enable plugins with the two Android powered smartphones and open a link on our web site. Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 4 is able to completely load the page first, while the two Android smartphones take a bit longer due to Flash content being downloaded and displayed. Obviously, the longer wait times seemingly enable us to get that desktop-like experience with the Android browser– whereas, that’s not something we can actually say with mobile Safari. Just from these short tests, it goes to show that plugins definitely impact the outcome on how fast specific pages are loaded.

In terms of navigational control between the three, the iPhone 4 is able to manhandle the competition with its significantly more favorable fluid executions. In fact, pinch zoom and kinetic scrolling are by far gracious and wickedly responsive with the iPhone 4’s experience. And even though the performance is indeed tolerable, the choppy movements exhibited by the DROID 3 and ThunderBolt are completely noticeable. Furthermore, the Android browser doesn’t play nicely when trying to navigate while pages continue to load, which is not a problem with the iPhone 4 with its tighter and instant response.

Needless to say, it’s still rather hard to characterize which handset is the supreme winner in the web browsing category. Naturally, the HTC ThunderBolt will win over people with its real world network performance due to its faster 4G LTE connection. However, if responsiveness is something placed highly on your list, then the iPhone 4 is the clear-cut choice with its eloquent, yet responsive navigational performance. And finally, the DROID 3’s all around well-rounded performance will get things to pop up lickity split as soon as you click a link. Through it all, there are still a host of other factors that impact the experience, but nevertheless, we’re sure that most people would be more than appreciative with their actions.



1. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Considering that the iphone 4 is over a year old, it looks like it's still keeping up quite well compared with the recently released android phones. And still beats the others in smoothness and responsiveness. The droid3 seems to be snappier though, but only a tad. Just proves that the iphone is really ahead of the game. And please don't start with flash support. Those flash supported ads are not important.

12. iankellogg

Posts: 155; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

the iPhone has similar specs as all phones of last year and most of this year. It isn't surprising it did so well at all. I am disappointed that google has not spent more time trying to make their operating system more fluid.

14. Jasonhunterx

Posts: 111; Member since: Jul 20, 2011

Iphone is hardware accelerated an android does not use that they should have used a Samsung galaxy they are only android phone with that in the browser to do a real comparison an ice cream sandwich will add that to android

26. tuminatr

Posts: 1144; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

think about this for a little bit, the only phone that has new hardware out of the three is the droid 3. The thunderbolt has basically the same hardware as the sprint EVO launched in early 2010 the oldest hardware of the bunch. I am surprised it did so well. This is a tough comparison I would prefer a real world test because hooked up to a mobile network we all know what phone would win

29. iguanad unregistered

Flash is not just for ads. Flash support is a deal breaker for me. Some web sites cant be viewed at all without it.

31. 123kid unregistered

i own a samsung droid charge and a 16gb iphone 4. I use my iphone for calls pretty much but my droid to use the internet and download music, and stream and watch movies that require adobe flash to play. sometime when i forget my droid at home and just have my iphone and i got down time at work and want to go to tubeplus and watch a movie or tv episode for free. i get so frustrated that my iphone doesnt have flash it like why not just throw that in why keep making accuses just put it in the iphone and give it removable memory. we went to disne world i have some albums on my iphone and apps and pictures and videos, about 2gb left in memory space i recorded about an hour of video of us walking in disney world the kids playing and the parade. then i want to download the disney app i didnt have enough space so i had to start deleting apps got for free to free up space. not an issue with droid my apps save to phone memory and some to micro sd memory and all picture videos songs ringtones etc etc to the micro sd card and when that fills up, go to my glove department and throw in my 8gb micro sd card and keep it moving easily, No syncing to itune at the computer that thousands of mile away at home on my computer, software update right over the air on my droid easy. view whatever i want on my droid just like i do on my desktop and laptop, lay over at the airport pull up tubeplus or project free tv and let the kids stream nickelodeon on my droid cause its flash capable. on iphone i have to PURCHASE something from itunes. Iphone is a very very very nice device but droid is leagues better i will probably get the iphone 5 when it comes out just because but better believe the trusty droid i will also have no matter what. besides i dont want to get rid of iphone because i PAID for somany apps and i dont want to get away from apple cause ive invested so much money in apps. With the android i can have htc, samsung, motorola, lg and still have my same majority FREE apps, i can even go to a sprint, tmobile, verizon, virgin mobile, wifi tablet, us cellular android and still havemy apps as sone as i log into gmail, if i purchased the app I can easily reinstall it right one the device and not sync up with itune at home. and just redownload the MAJORITY FREE apps that the android marketplace has. Quality is nice but more with just as good quality is better to me and for most people. Im not an apple basher just stating facts, how can you say removable memory, full web browsing, bigger viewing screens, majority free apps is not what you want when its the same price as an iphone that doesnt have all that DROID x2 $199.99 with full web browsing, removable memory, android marketplace with majority free apps, 8mp auto focus camera iphone 4 16gb 199.99 without all of that... easy choice to go with droid

41. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Pretty sure you're a troll but why do you have an iphone if android is so superior? You basically just went on a rant about how great your droid is. You use the iphone for mostly calls???

53. who's irrational? unregistered

again, taco50, AGAIN.. troll? really? are you that desperate for attention?? are you really that insensitive and inhumane? now you've moved from making bad comments on phones to bad comments on people... how much lower can you degrade yourself??

57. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

He doesn't have a iPhone and charge neither does he have a life. SIGH

58. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

DUDE come on use better taste next time. Your close mind won't get you far.

3. 1701nino unregistered

Iphone is the best!!!

4. Heatfan316 unregistered

You can not use three phones on the same wifi network they are all stealing bandwidth from each other and how are you surprised when the iphone4 finishes last sometimes both those phones are way faster then the iPhone4 I don't know why you have the droid3 in this competition it's not fair it's dual core. You have to time them separately then it would fair

15. vette21man

Posts: 351; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Not at all unfair. I think you are missing the point. It's interesting to see how a 1.15 year old iPhone stacks up to current models. Would have also been interesting to see how a current Windows phone compared.

67. The007 unregistered

May not be correct. Even though a wi-fi network is shared, access point will give the bandwidth to the guy who contacts first. So the speed also depends upon the ability to send IP packets to internet gateway (wi-fi ap on this occassion). Droid is the winner. Its okay to be patient for pinch and scroll feature, better than not having much needed features like Flash!

6. bubba78

Posts: 57; Member since: May 23, 2011

Lets turn off wifi and turn on their network data connections and see which one would win..wait we already know that answer :-) This article makes me lol

66. lollipop

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 15, 2011

Seeing how 4G isn't everywhere turning off Wifi would make no difference. Or am i going to hear a "4G is ubiquitos enough" argument to really make me LOL.

7. android_hitman unregistered

are you sure that you disabled on android phones all the features that iphone4 doesn't have? (java+flash) because if not.. it's an unfair test .. cheers

16. vette21man

Posts: 351; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Disagree. Android fans bash Apple all the time about not having flash. I think every test run on Androids should have flash enabled. If flash is so great, prove that it doesn't impact my normal web browsing (in fact prove it makes it better). Enough of this "unfair" junk, if you want to split hairs, it's not "fair" to compare a 1.15 year old iPhone to a current DROID 3.

20. beatlesfan

Posts: 150; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

Then compare the iphone to an HTC incredible. An android phone that is older than the iphone. But we have to disable all the things the iphone isnt capable of on the incredible because its only fair that way. Its not splitting hairs, its common sense. Thats like saying a phone loading m.google.com and loadingwww.google.com could be compared to each other.

22. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

...I agree with this too...lol

21. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

There was a browser test of the iPhone 4 vs. the LG 2X. Flash and everything enabled on the 2X. It had a decent showing against the iPhone, loading faster in some cases. I think the Android phones shoulda had Flash enabled.

42. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

More fandroid logic. Its fair to compare a 1yr old phone to a brand new one but its not fair to have flash turned on but iphone sucks because there's no flash. Makes perfect sense.

54. Jonny unregistered

It's not fair to have the flash turned on because it slows down the browsing speed. And to make things fair you should let all the phones have the same advantages without any disadvantages.

59. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

TACO really you expect a fandroid to make sense. They are rebels going against apple. They just want to say its better then a iPhone. They don't really want these things. What do you need flash for on a mobile phone thats at all decent.

8. Medalaster1 unregistered

Yaah Let's try and try till thE iPhone wins...........

9. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I just hate these tests. Each phone should have its own Wi-Fi network. Only single-core phones should be put against single-core phones, & the same can be said of dual-core phones also. Obviously the dual-core phone will outperform the single-core phone. Also when you are in the street or the park how is Wi-Fi going to make a difference? Use the networks that they come with. The Droid 3 wins in the battle with the iPhone 4 if they are on Verizon's 3G network unless the Droid 3 has Flash on then maybe the iPhone 4 might win maybe, & the HTC Thunderbolt will kill all of the phones because of its Verizon 4G LTE even with Flash on because 4G LTE is just too vicious compared to the dying old tech of 3G. I am more concerned about real world tests not these ridiculous controlled tests that 9 out of 10 times would never present themselves anyway in a real life situation!

23. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

dont be chicken u guys said that the android phones are complete with flash and other wonderful things.. well test them with that... only fair... what good is to have flash is you will disable it for faster browsing... dude your are making Android look bad.. good morning btw

27. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yes I know what you mean. The person who made this test is making Android look bad. A great feature of Android is Flash. Why disable it? I think the web minus Flash is a weak web experience. This controlled test doesn't make sense to me. Anyway what's up gallitoking?

30. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

not much .. just here in AZ supporting tempetatures above 110.. degrees... staying indoors... for sure... for the record.. hate test of any kind because it nevers shows true results...

39. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Holy crap, yes you better stay in 110 degrees is no joke. Unless you are sitting by a pool or in the pool. lol I want to go to AZ. it must be a beautiful state. Also I am so with you on dumb tests. I think they are pointless also.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.