Android 2.2 Froyo vs Android 2.1 Eclair vs Android 1.5 Cupcake: Speed taste

Android 2.2 Froyo promises huge speed improvements over earlier versions of Android, so we put the rubber to the road with some strenuous speed tests

Flora Graham
2 min read

We've been using Android 2.2 Froyo for a few days now, and as much as we like the new features -- automatic syncing of Picasa Web albums, take a bow -- the sweetest treat is its speed.

For an incremental release, this feels like a huge improvement -- and Android 2.1 was no slouch. But, as the mighty Boston once said, we want more than a feeling -- we want cold, hard numbers. It's time for an Android speed showdown!

We pitted a Google Nexus One running 2.2 against a Nexus One and a Motorola Milestone running version 2.1 update 1, and a poor, defenceless HTC Hero running stinky old 1.5.

Java virtual machine speed test

First, we want to test the report from the Android Police blog that the Java virtual machine on 2.2 is 450 per cent faster than 2.1. This improvement should benefit most of your apps, but not games, Flash or anything else compiled in native Android code. We tested it using Linpack benchmarks, on four phones that are used for normal daily use and not pure, untouched test phones.

And holy mackerel, using this test, our Nexus One running 2.2 smoked the competition like a big cigar full of loser-flavoured tobacco. The relative speeds of the phones' processors are hardly even reflected, so great is the difference in the OS. The average numbers are even worthy of a chart -- bigger is better, here.

JavaScript test

Next we took on browser speed, using the built-in Android browser. Google says Froyo's browser has been 'enhanced' for faster JavaScript, so we put it to the test with the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, all running on the same Wi-Fi network. Smaller is better in this one, which also shows average numbers.

You may say it's unfair to pit the Hero against newer phones with more powerful processors, and you'd be right. But it's still interesting to see how much Android has improved since the Hero blew our minds and won our Editors' Choice award less than a year ago.

If anything, it shows why Hero owners are begging, pleading and threatening HTC for an Android update -- but HTC still hasn't said exactly when this will arrive, only that an update to Android 2.1 is coming sometime in June. 

All this is just a pretty bar-graph party if you can't feel it when you're using the phone, and in our experience, you definitely can. Even keeping in mind that our older Nexus One running Android 2.1 is clogged up with more apps and other content than our week-old Nexus One running Android 2.2, the speed improvement is physically noticeable.