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iOS 5 faster than iOS 4 at browsing, study shows

Mobile browsing proved to be faster on iOS 5 than on iOS 4, according to testing done by an app performance-monitoring company.

New Relic

Surfing the mobile Web is faster with iOS 5 than with iOS 4. At least, that is the result in a recent test conducted by New Relic.

The company, which measures and manages the performance of Web-based applications, conducted two tests--one in the wild and one in a lab. The results of both tests showed that mobile Web pages loaded quicker on an iPhone with Apple's latest OS than with iOS 4.

The first test measured the average response time for more than 3,000 Web applications, as used by a random sampling of 3,000 New Relic customers. With its end-user monitoring technology, New Relic team can track performance at the browser level as people interact with different apps. In this test, the average page took 4.1 seconds to load under iOS 5 vs. 9.6 seconds with iOS 4.

A representative from New Relic explained that the data collected on the field test was a rough average since the company couldn't tell if people were using 3G or Wi-Fi or which carrier they were on.

The second test was a controlled one that pitted two iPhones with the same hardware against each other, one running iOS 5 and the other iOS 4. In the lab test, the average mobile Web page took 1.88 seconds to load on the phone with iOS 5 and 6.34 seconds to load on the one with iOS 4.

For the lab test, the New Relic team used two iPhone 4 handsets in 3G mode running on AT&T's network.

The uncontrolled tests seem less exact because the customers who were monitored may own a variety of different iPhones across different carriers using either 3G or Wi-Fi. As one example, the A5-powered iPhone 4S should be faster overall than an iPhone 4 or 3GS, regardless of the operating system. The lab test is likely a more accurate gauge since the same hardware was used in a controlled environment.