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Summary:

Most people’s attention might be on the iPad 2 launching tomorrow, but iOS 4.3 brought some impressive improvements to existing hardware, too. I ran the original iPad and the iPhone 4 through a series of tests to see how performance is affected by the update.

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Most people’s attention might be on the iPad 2 launching tomorrow, but iOS 4.3 brought some impressive improvements to existing hardware, too.  I followed the same testing I’ve used when benchmarking updates before, only this time I applied it to the iPad. On both devices, I cleared all running apps from the multitasking menu and powered off then back on the device to ensure the there were no background tasks running to interfere with test results.

iOS 4.3 Update Tested

The only concern I had was that the benchmark apps were all iPhone apps, not true iPad apps, but it shouldn’t affect the overall results.  I used GeekBench 2 ($0.99), Gauge Mathematical Tool (free), BenchTest ($0.99), SunSpider (free) and V8 (free) to test the performance of each OS version on the iPad. I performed all the tests on the same device, both before and after the upgrade.

Results for the Wi-Fi iPad

For the most part, the test results showed that performance was slightly better on iOS 4.2.1 than on iOS 4.3 on the iPad.  But overall, the results were close enough to consider the upgrade to iOS 4.3 on the iPad simply worthwhile.  That is, until you look at the JavaScript test results. Mobile Safari on the iPad was significantly faster on iOS 4.3.  The only problem I ran into was that the Google V8 JavaScript tests would not complete on the iPad.  The test would either hang or crash mobile Safari.  I had a similar issue on the iPhone 3G when trying to execute the same tests.

Results for the iPhone 4

While I couldn’t upgrade my iPhone 3G, I could apply the latest update to my iPhone 4 for comparison to prior results and see how it was affected by by the upgrade.  Unlike on the iPad, I’ve been maintaining benchmark results on my iPhone 4 for some time now, so I have some historical data to compare the latest tests to:

Over time, you can see where the performance of iOS on the iPhone 4 has slowly degraded with each release. 4.3 is no exception to this trend.  Keep in mind that this performance degradation is not nearly as dramatic as that which occurred with the iPhone 3G.  Note also the continual increase in performance noted in the JavaScript performance with each release.  The 4.3 update is the most significant yet in that regard on the iPhone 4.

Conclusions

For what you get in the form of features withe the iOS 4.3 update, and for the almost insignificant general performance hit on the iPad, the upgrade is overall a great one.  Any time you get more features for little or no degradation in performance is a good thing.

  1. stupid question, but i just got my iphone 4. how do you kill apps from the multitasking menu?

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    1. nevermind… i figured it out. im an idiot.

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      1. At least you knew your iPhone 4 had multitasking and how to get to it, which is more than most. http://bit.ly/hL51mu

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  2. “Any time you get more features for little or no degradation in performance is a good thing.”
    Every time you add more features you will have degradation, specially on the platform such as iOS, where whole system is run large framework that sits on the lightweight OS. Question is how much optimization they did afterwords. Every new optimization is more expensive since it is more complex, and than when optimization became to expensive and hardware became to slow under all new software upgrades, Apple release a new hardware version :).

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  3. Great write up, I’ll let you know how my Ipad 2 compares to my iPad 1 in about 15 hours :)

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  4. I got much better results with my iPhone 4 on SunSpider. Total of 2.35% better performance running Java.

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  5. I like the new update but it broke my pictures, i have a folder of 1.3 gig pics and my iPhone 4 thats has 9 gig free space say that i dont have enough space. Anyone know how to fix it? If so plz tell me, pictures are what i use my iPhone for the most. Thank u.

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