Web Browser comparison: iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S III vs One X vs Lumia 900

Web Browser comparison: iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S III vs One X vs Lumia 900
No longer a concern for the world’s most popular smartphone, Apple’s always-beloved iPhone has finally been outfitted with 4G LTE connectivity to present itself in the same light as some of its renowned rivals in the landscape. Naturally, the ability to browse the web is arguably one of the most prized features with today’s modern smartphones, as they can now take advantage of speedy LTE networks littered throughout the world. However, if we take cellular connectivity out of the equation, mainly because LTE isn’t prevalent in many markets, we’re pitting some of the best smartphones out now against one another to find out exactly which one provides us with the most balanced experience.

On tap for this web browsing comparison, we’ve got the Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, and the Nokia Lumia 900. Broadening the scope as usual, all three major platforms are well represented in this faceoff – giving us a good idea on how they all perform against one another. In addition to the customary benchmark tests, which gives us insights to their technical prowess, there are other factors that we explain that help to refine and complement the true web browsing experience we desperately crave. So without any further ado, let’s dive in and see what these beauties have to offer.

The Contenders:

  • Safari (iPhone 5)
  • ICS Stock Android Browser (Galaxy S III and One X)
  • Internet Explorer (Lumia 900)


BrowserMark Ringmark (features/tests)
Apple iPhone 5 186,755 55/263
Samsung Galaxy S III 103,091 55/236
HTC One X 96,118 55/236
Nokia Lumia 900 31,862 26/95

Before we dive right into the nitty and gritty, we decided to run a couple of browser benchmark tests to show us on paper how this quartet fares against one another. However, as we should point out before proceeding, it’s worth knowing that these benchmark tests don’t necessarily represent the true performance of these browsers on an everyday, normal basis. First up on the chopping block is Ringmark, which basically checks whether a specific browser supports a variety of basic and advanced protocols/technologies that many apps nowadays rely on – such as HTML 5. Meanwhile, Browsermark works on the same premise, since it measures the performance of things like CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, and WebGL. Although the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, and HTC One X all perform almost similarly to one another with Ringmark, while the Nokia Lumia 900 seems to be left in the dust, it’s Apple’s pride and joy that blows away the competition in the Browsermark benchmark test.

Page Loads:

PhoneArena.com NYTimes.com NationalGeographic.com IMDB.com Average
iPhone 5 17.1s 7,5s 9,9s 5,6s 10,02s
Galaxy S III 30.7s 6,8s 8,1s 5,9s 12,87s
Galaxy S III (no flash) 20.5s 3,8s 2,6s 4,5s 7,85s
One X 1min7s 30,8s 8,9s 7,5s 28,55s
     One X      (no flash) 50.2s 4,8s 3,7s 3,8s 15,62s
Lumia 900 53.5s 14,9s 30,8s 19,3s 29,62s

Alrighty folks, without question, the first thing we have to check out before anything else, which is also probably the most important item with most people, is none other than page loads. As we all know too well, all four smartphones are 4G LTE capable, but seeing there are many discrepancies that can arise from that, we decided to test out page loads via Wi-Fi connectivity – to make it a bit more fair, since it’s relying on the same connection. One by one, we loaded up our web site and some other highly visited ones as well, to see how they fare against one another.

Amazingly, it seems as though the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III cough up the fastest speeds, while the Nokia Lumia 900 seems to take a significant amount of time with most of the sites we checked out. Strangely though, the HTC One X took an extraordinary amount of time loading our web site, but didn’t seem too strained by the others. Worth noting in this comparison, we had both Android smartphones enabled for Adobe Flash support, which of course, contributes to longer times than its Flash-less rivals in Safari and Internet Explorer.

Navigational Controls:

If there’s one thing we can agree upon with all four devices, we have to say that navigational control is no problem whatsoever with them. In fact, all four smartphones are soundly responsive with their navigation – providing that oh-so lovable amount of movement with things such as kinetic scrolling and pinch zooming. However, considering we have to be a bit more meticulous comparing the four, we find the HTC One X dishing up the least amount of fluidity with its performance. Honestly, it’s not bad at all and almost negligible, but when the other three handsets exhibit buttery smooth executions, the HTC One X’s minor blemish does stand out a bit more.

Rendering on the go:

Showing no pause or delay with its rendering of complex web sites, both the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III take a commanding lead in this department, as they’re both adept in rendering on the fly. Whether it’s zooming in/out or merely scrolling to the bottom of a page like a mad man, these two class-leading smartphones are supremely quick in rendering text and various multimedia content. With Internet Explorer on the Nokia Lumia 900, it maintains a very similar performance, but on very few occasions, there is a slight delay before it’s able to render – resulting in a one-second delay in displaying items on-screen. Unfortunately for HTC’s flagship, it clearly has some nagging hitches to its rendering performance, since it’s occasionally delayed. Specifically, it’s most noticeable when pinch zooming with its blinking like actions.

Real Estate & Detail:

In terms of details and clarity, the iPhone 5 undoubtedly has the edge there with its highest pixel density amongst the bunch – while the Nokia Lumia 900’s WVGA resolution softens things up tremendously. And of course, with the two Android smartphones in this comparison, they have the balanced combination of high resolutions and large screen sizes to make them the ideal candidates.

Other Noteworthy Features:

Indeed, a lot of emphasis is placed on each handset’s web browsing performance, since as we all know, it’s the bread and butter in what makes the experience so meaningful. Still, there are other tertiary features that aid to complement the experience. With the two Android smartphones, they have support for Adobe Flash to give them that desktop-like experience. Yes, Adobe’s long famous multimedia platform has already made its exodus from the Android scene, but nevertheless, it’s available on these two beauties.

Interestingly enough, all four smartphones employ their own interpretation with sharing functionality – like being able to share a page via Twitter, Facebook, email, text, etc. However, the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X boast the deepest level of sharing versus the bunch, since they’re Android devices and all. Additionally, with the exception of the Nokia Lumia 900, all the other smartphones have a “Reading Mode” that makes pages easier to read.


Here we are, at the end of a long journey finding out exactly which handset packs along the overall best web browsing experience. Taking all things into consideration, we have to say that the most balanced device for the occasion, has to be Samsung’s offering in the Galaxy S III – though, all are undeniably proficient with the job on hand. Speedy load times, admirable benchmark scores, ginormous display, deep sharing functionality, and a high resolution display pushes the Samsung Galaxy S III just a smidgen ahead of its rivals. Being the new kid on the block, the iPhone 5 flexes its muscles with its commanding benchmark scores, superb details, and speedy performance – making it a great all-around performer as well. Obviously, seeing it’s part of the Android family, the HTC One X is still a wonderful device as well, but there are some rendering issues that prevent it from rising higher. And finally, there’s the sole Windows Phone included in the mix, the Nokia Lumia 900, which is capable of getting the job done – albeit, it doesn’t push the envelope as much as its competitors.



66. rayaz

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

Good article, because it moved away from pure bench marking to page load times, and shows that in real world terms the performances are good across all platforms, and benchmarks aside you can browse and enjoy the experience on all. Good job

65. mrochester unregistered

I had an SGS3 for a couple of weeks about 2 months ago. Benchmarks are, of course, only part of the story when it comes to how good a web browser is. I found the default browser to be almost unusable due to it's inability to make a large number of blocks of text fit the screen at a readable size. This meant lots of sideways scrolling to read content. I then switched to Chrome, which was much better for making content fit, but was ridiculously unstable and crashed very frequently. On the whole, I found the web browsing experience on the SGS3 to be pretty poor. The massive screen is rather a moot point when the functionality is lacking.

64. jefferson9

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

gs3 stock ics browser is out dated, try the stock jellybean browser (plenty of stable jb roms out there for the gs3)

63. mittalmailbox

Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

S3 with jelly bean and Chrome will put iPhone 5 on shame.. Android just ROCK!!!!!

62. samystic

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 25, 2012

in a race of 'mine is better, longer, faster', consumers are fed with model x, and then model xs and the saga continues... samystic

61. ikkuh

Posts: 42; Member since: May 22, 2011

hehehe thanks to phone arena the iPhone can keep up with the SGS3. Without phonearena.com the SGS3 is twice at fast: iPhone 23 seconds SGS3 10.9 seconds How strange isn't it? :)

60. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

i feel pity on lumia 900!! hope nokia could make the new "xpress for lumia" a good browser and alternative for IE!

59. gaurav231089

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

Comparison has some error...My Omnia W loads full phone arena in 27 seconds test rite now and Imdb in 15 seconds full website

54. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Have done a lot of benchmarks on Apache/LSWS server using those 1kb (or maybe even less like "Hello World") files. Found that these benchmarks are useless in practical realtime usage scenario.

50. US_Eminem

Posts: 12; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

Comparing old wp7.5 and old ICS with new ios6........very clever PA

51. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

How long do you think they would have to wait for those handsets to get JB?? Lol

56. tha.fox

Posts: 100; Member since: Nov 30, 2011

If someone fails to get a JB update and its a big deal to them they obviously picked the wrong phone! Anyone who cares enough about these updating to new operating systems would most likely buy a flagship phone. fragmentation affects only those who buy low end androids. Apple has almost no fragmentation because they keep giving ppl the same phone in disguise.

48. ChiX017

Posts: 308; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Please as a registered user of this beautiful site; I request the comparison be re-done with a Lumia 920 or something with IE10 on it. We do not want another unfair comparison like the iPhone 5 vs Lumia 900

42. darkkjedii

Posts: 31811; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Nice comparison PA.

33. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

"In terms of details and clarity, the iPhone 5 undoubtedly has the edge there with its highest pixel density amongst the bunch " Wait, compared to the one x thats only 14 pixels. Are people really going to notice that?

32. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

The Lumia 900 is the only single-core phone that can hardly stand up against these beasts.

41. denied911

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2012

funny, xperia tipo with cpu from L610 can beat L900

25. E34V8

Posts: 112; Member since: Dec 16, 2011

S3 BrowserMark score is 161710, not 103,091 . Look at the anandtech tests -http://www.anandtech.com/show/5810/samsung-galaxy-s-iii-performance-preview

40. denied911

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2012

international has 180.000 us has less

23. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

John V! :D I know you are a diligent guy, you think you could compare Browser Next Time with 4.1 (Either S3 or Note 2) and Windows 8 Browser? Also a test with chrome would be nice and it may come pre-installed in a near future on new devices. Thank you! and nice comparison

20. bloodline

Posts: 706; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

what about the s3 with jelly bean.... come at us iphone 5

39. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

..and make that a quadcore one

18. Miley_3d

Posts: 16; Member since: Oct 02, 2012

Everybody says everythings about these phones. But i LOVE Nokia Lumia 920, Because PureView with 920 is Beautiful for me. Next Subject is Windows Phone 8 is Lovely, too

17. adk199

Posts: 23; Member since: Oct 04, 2012

I had a brief encounter with the iPhone5 yesterday and tested the usual sites like engadget (desktop version). It seemed quite good but when i tried to scroll to the bottom of a site it only flew a few chapters down at a time and it actually took some time to get to the bottom of a page compared to my GNex (JB) and SG3 (ICS) that just fly down immediately. I wonder if somebody can tell if this can be changed somehow in the settings because it was a bit annoying. Otherwise very solid browser on the new iPhone5. Instant pinch to zoom and razor sharp text :-)

55. tha.fox

Posts: 100; Member since: Nov 30, 2011

thats the #1 thing i hate most on the iphone u have to scroll like 5 times to get to the bottom of pages. You the first person to ever notice that other than me I feel lol

16. rizevnarastek

Posts: 349; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

@ Phonearena: What versions of the of the handsets did you use and what version of software was on those handsets? Just saying, because my brothers One X (global) opens up everything faster then my friends SGS3

34. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

i'm guessing they used the AT&T version

15. psysect

Posts: 49; Member since: Sep 27, 2012

onex + will have the best Web Browser..its even more powerful then iphone 5.

14. phil2n

Posts: 519; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

i thought if you are the latest you are the fastest. whats going on apple?

12. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

As PA reported, I will be using the Nokia Xpress browser when I purchase my Nokia Lumia 920... And other times I will use the NEXT VERSION of Internet Explorer coming with WP8. I have been extremely happy so far with my HTC Trophy's IE performance. Leaps and bounds better than my Droid Incredible's browser performance (yes I know it is an older model phone... The Lumia 900 is also relatively older to this test... and the 920 should just about be better than anything I've ever had, as well as on par with the best on the market).

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