Apple no doubt has benchmarks and spreadsheets to prove it, but how does the latest version of Safari perform for everyday surfing? We ran before and after tests with six different commonly visited websites to see whether Apple’s Nitro engine truly delivers a faster browsing experience, or whether it’s merely PowerPoint fodder.
After clearing our iPhone 4’s cache and cookies, we loaded six websites, timing loads times to the tenth of a second and reloading three times to weed out any outlying results. Tests were performed as close together as possible (allowing for the time it took to upgrade to iOS 4.3) to minimize any difference from hiccups in Internet speed throughout the day. All of the sites loaded mobile-optimized versions, except for Yahoo, which we intentionally set to the desktop version. Afterwards, we averaged the three numbers for every site and plotted them side by side.
We hoped for an across-the-board drop in load times, but in reality, numbers barely budged and in some cases pages actually took longer to load in iOS 4.3. The load times, in seconds, have been plotted below (lower is better).
Sites like Google News, The Weather Channel, CNN and Digital Trends all dropped fractions of a second, but Gmail and Yahoo both slowed down somehow. In the case of the latter, the difference was significant: 5.9 seconds on iOS 4.3 compared to just 3.6 seconds on iOS 4.2.1. Disturbingly, that’s also the only site loading a full desktop version.