Much attention in the battle between Android and iPhone goes to the availability of apps on each platform. But one of the most important feature of a smartphone might not be the availability and performance of native apps but the performance of the mobile Web browser.
According to a study released today by the Web optimization company Blaze, this is a big win in the Android column. The company analyzed 45,000 page load speeds to find that Android's browser is 52% faster the iPhones. Furthermore, Android's Chrome browser beat iPhone's Safari browser by loading 84% of websites faster.
Updated: Since our original publication, a number of questions have been raised about the methodology and assumptions of Blaze's study, bringing into doubt any of the conclusions the company arrives at. See the end of the story for the technical details.
According to the findings, Android 2.3 had a median load time of 2.144 seconds while iPhone 4.3 had a median load time of 3.254 seconds.
Interestingly, when loading mobile websites, Android was only 3% faster, with a median load time of 2.085 seconds versus iPhone's 2.024. But on websites that aren't optimized for mobile, Android is 59% faster. Blaze contends that, "Android's dominance in handling non-mobile sites is especially important when considering tablets. Tablets use the same OS and similar hardware phones do. However, users expect the full experience on tablets, not the simplified mobile sites. This means Android's edge will make an even greater impact."
You can read the full report here.
Update: Since this story was originally published, there have been several reports challenging Blaze's methodology. Jim Dalrympe writes in The Loop that the custom apps Blaze had built to assess page-load time were using UIWebView, and as such did not benefit from the recent Safari updates in iOS 4.3.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed that the embedded Web browser does not take advantage of these optimizations. "Their 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 advantage 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," says Apple spokewoman, Natalie Kerris.
Since Blaze's initial findings were refuted, the company has posted an update to its blog, attempting to clarify its findings. In a statement to CNET Blaze CTO Guy Podjarny admitted that Apple's statement does call into question the findings of the study: "It's certainly possible the embedded browser might produce different results. If Apple decides to apply their optimizations across their embedded browser as well, then we would be more than willing to create a new report with the new performance results."