And the best web browser for the iPhone is…

If you want the best performing browser, there's only one choice on iOS, but there's a third-party browser worth keeping an eye on.

I use the Google Chrome browser across all platforms, whether that be Windows, OS X, Android or iOS. And while Chrome is undoubtedly the best choice on Windows, on OS X I'm trading speed for convenience by choosing Chrome over Safari.

But what about on iOS? What's the fastest browser on that platform?

The system

  • iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 9.2

The Browsers

  • Safari (stock iOS 9.2)
  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox for iOS
  • Opera

The tests

  • JetStream 1.1: A JavaScript benchmark that includes benchmarks from the SunSpider 1.0.2 and Octane 2 JavaScript benchmark suites. Larger scores are better.
  • Kraken-1.1: An updated version of the SunSpider benchmark. Lower scores are better.
  • Octane 2.0: A JavaScript test that includes tests that focus on interactive scripting. Higher scores are better.
  • RoboHornet: This benchmark claims it "encompasses all aspects of browser performance and everything that matters to web developers, like performance of layout and localStorage." Higher scores are better.
  • HTML5 Test: A web standards compliance test. The maximum score is 555, and a higher score is better.

These tests were run multiple times to ensure consistency.

The results

I've added a checkmark next to the benchmarks won by each browser:

Safari

  • JetStream 1.1: 56.348
  • Kraken-1.1: 2,880.9 ✔
  • Octane 2.0: 8,397 ✔
  • RoboHornet: failed to complete
  • HTML 5 test: 412 ✔

Chrome

  • JetStream 1.1: 7.3362
  • Kraken-1.1: 65,952.0
  • Octane 2.0: unreliable/crashed the browser
  • RoboHornet: 84.15 ✔
  • HTML 5 test: 396

Firefox

  • JetStream 1.1: 57.426 ✔
  • Kraken-1.1: 3,030.5
  • Octane 2.0: 8,109
  • RoboHornet: failed to complete
  • HTML 5 test: 412 ✔

Opera

  • JetStream 1.1: unreliable/crashed the browser
  • Kraken-1.1: 66,380.2
  • Octane 2.0: unreliable/crashed the browser
  • RoboHornet: failed to complete
  • HTML 5 test: 396

The bottom line

It didn't surprise me that the stock Safari browser was the fastest, but I was surprised by:

  • How bad Google Chrome is on iOS. It's not just bad, it's abysmally bad. When you compare it side-by-side with Safari or Firefox, it feels really sluggish.
  • How good Firefox is. I'd only looked at this browser briefly back after it was released in November of last year, but running it now for these tests, I'm very impressed.
  • Opera just didn't like being benchmarked.

See also:

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