Study: Android Smokes iPhone 4 Crunching Web Pages?

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Everyone loves a smackdown, so how about one that proves whether Google’s Android or Apple’s iPhone is faster? And from a disinterested third-party researcher to boot?

Blaze Software says it ran a whopping 45,000 tests to prove whose browser was really king of the mobile mountain. The results: Android’s Chrome browser was an astonishing 52% faster than the iPhone’s Safari on average, and finished loading web pages more swiftly on 84% of the 1,000 websites Blaze tested.

How much faster are we talking in real world numbers? Blaze reports the Android phone had a median load time of 2.144 seconds, compared with the iPhone’s median load time of 3.254 seconds.

“We were very surprised by the results,” said Blaze CTO and cofounder Guy Podjarny. “We assumed that it would be closer race and that the latest JavaScript speed improvements would have a more material impact on performance. The fact that Android beat iPhone by such a large margin was not expected.”

That’s not all. The study also found the latest JavaScript tweaks for both Apple iOS 4.3 and Google Android 2.3 had no measurable impact on the test results. So much for Java-related page optimization.

Blaze said it set out to “to discover which mobile browser is truly faster–when used on real sites,” with an eye toward quantifying “the true mobile browsing experience.” It calls the study unique because of the number of tests run, that it used real phones on “real world” websites to crunch web data, and criticizes prior studies for using “fabricated benchmark sites or manual measurements on a small number of sites.”

How did Blaze test by contrast? By creating custom apps that ran natively on the Android (mostly the Google Nexux S) and iPhone (mostly the iPhone 4), loading a page on demand, and measuring how long it took to complete. The tests were run on a WiFi network multiple times, and over several days. The company’s even offering the apps freely to anyone that uses its Blaze Mobitest Tool–you can read up on their mobile measurement suite here.

An unadulterated victory for Android? Looks like it, though a roughly one second median improvement probably isn’t enough to get much more than academically fired up about.

Update: The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple calls into question the study’s methodology, suggesting the “custom apps” angle may have biased the results because those apps would have used embedded versions of the browsers. Dalrymple says UIWebView, the Apple version, didn’t receive any of the updates Safari did in iOS 4.3, and that “using an embedded browser is not the same as using the official browser.”

Curiouser and curiouser.

Update 2: Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller contacted us with the following statement:

“Their [Blaze’s] testing is flawed because they didn’t actually test the Safari web browser on the iPhone. Instead they only tested their own proprietary app, which uses an embedded web viewer that doesn’t take advantages of Safari’s web performance optimizations.”

“Despite this fundamental testing flaw, they still only found an average of a second difference in loading web pages.”

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