iPhone 3GS browser speed tests can't beat Opera Mobile 9.7

Summary:Nokia was the leader in mobile web browsing with their S60 browser launched a couple of years ago and as Rafe at All About Symbian shows the S60 browser is still a strong competitor in the browser loading race. However, the iPhone 3GS shows that even the mighty iPhone 3G can be beat and sets the bar for default browser. Default browsers are not the only game in town though and Opera Mobile 9.7 with Turbo shows what can be done by a 3rd party on an open platform.

My buddy Rafe posted a detailed comparison of browser speeds for a few of the latest S60 devices, the T-Mobile G1, and the iPhone 3G on All About Symbian. As a Nokia fan, it was encouraging to see how well S60 devices actually performed. Unfortunately, he did not have access to an iPhone 3GS so I decided to try to emulate his testing methodology and see what the results showed. After reading Rafe's analysis, I was quite impressed with the Nokia N86 results and was unprepared for the sheer speeds I saw with my iPhone 3GS. All I have to say after conducting these tests is that the S in iPhone 3GS truly does stand for speed and currently no other phone can touch what the 3GS can do when it comes to browser page loading from a default browser.

Click to see enlarged chart.

However, as you can also see in my updated table (Rafe said I could import his data) and chart I tested out the new Opera Mobile 9.7 browser on an evaluation Pharos Traveler 137 Windows Mobile device. Opera Mobile 9.7 is currently in beta and the major new feature is the integration of Turbo mode that supplements the native Opera Mobile browser with the proxy functionality found in Opera Mini. So, with Opera Mobile 9.7 and Turbo mode enabled you get a fully functioning web browser with proxy/server side lifting going on to provide the FASTEST browsing experience currently available on a mobile phone. The Pharos Traveler 137 has a 528 MHz Qualcomm processor and runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional on a 480x800 pixel resolution display.

While I do enjoy browsing on the iPhone 3GS with the fast native browser, Opera Mobile actually provides a better experience when it comes to reflowing text for different selected zoom levels. The iPhone does a decent job of zooming into a column when you double tap, but then if you want to zoom further into a section of text the browser does not reflow for the device display and you still end up having to scroll right and left, as well as up and down. Opera gets it right with Opera Mobile and is much smarter about optimizing your display size and resolution. The custom HTC builds of Opera Mobile even allow several custom zoom levels where the text always fits on the display just right. There is still work for Apple to do in the browser, but they definitely have the loading speed down pat.

Keep in mind that even though I followed Rafe's methodology and tested via WiFi and the same web sites, our Internet connection speeds may have varied since he is across the world from me and using a different provider and setup. I used my WiFi router that was 8 feet away and connected via Comcast cable. At the time of my mobile phone browser testing, Speedtest.net reported I had 7.5 MB/s download speed and 1.4 MB/s upload speeds available.

Topics: Browser, iPhone, Mobility

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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