When a major update comes out for an operating system that affects a number of devices you own, it can be beneficial to add a round of benchmarking to the routine task of updating. This way you can check and see if things are performing at the level they should be. Especially when an update like iOS 7.1 comes along and targets one or more devices by claiming to contain enhancements that will increase performance as this one does for the iPhone 4.
The following will go over some of the established benchmarking apps available to iOS devices, where to go online to compare your results and some general recommendations as what you can do if your device is not performing at the level it should be:
Real-world scenario vs. ideal situations
Ideally when running a benchmark the goal is to establish the optimum score possible by configuring a device to perform its absolute best. To do so you will typically want to restore the device to its factory settings and start tweaking some of the OS settings prior to running the tests. This technique is best applied when comparing different hardware configurations or versions of the device’s firmware. There are plenty of sites that do this sort of testing when each new device or major update is released.
More often than not, what most people really want to do is see if their particular device is performing at or near its optimum level based on the way they use it each and every day. If this is the case for you, then download and run through a couple of the following test suites without changing anything and see what results you get.
iOS benchmarking apps
Geekbench 3 ($0.99 Universal) is primarily a CPU-based benchmarking tool that will rate the performance of your processor. It is multicore aware and capable of performing both 32 and 64 bit tests. A series of integer-based as well as floating-point tests are run in addition to some memory-based tests. The resulting score can be uploaded online where all test results are searchable.
GFXBench 3.0 (Free Universal) is an OpenGL ES 3 based benchmarking tool that will also rate the performance of your graphics processor. You can even perform battery life tests, but these take a little more time and setup and are not typically included when running all tests. You can instantly compare your results to other devices on the device without having to review an online report. Result history is stored on the device and online when you set up a free account.
Futuremark 3DMark (Free Universal) uses a test suite known by the name of Ice Storm to perform a series of OpenGL tests. It has three modes of testing, a normal mode that uses 720p graphics, an extreme mode that use 1080p graphics, and an unlimited mode. Once the test has completed, you will be able to compare your results from within the app to not only what your device score should be, but also other devices as the test is a cross-platform test.
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile (Free Universal) is a well-rounded benchmark test suite that combines CPU Storage, 2D and 3D tests all in one. At the end of the test you are asked to submit your results to PassMark where they keep tabs on submitted results and update a series of online reports based on the averages taken from submitted results.
Comparing your results
After running any one of the benchmark tests mentioned above, you can follow up by comparing your test results online to see how your particular device compares to similar devices’ results. Each of the different benchmark sites have their own way of sharing results. Geekbench and GFXBench for instance will allow you to create an online account where you can save your device’s results online for future reference. Here is a list of each site’s iOS results:
- Geekbench iOS Device Benchmarks
- GFXBench 3.0 iOS Device Scores
- Futuremark Mobile iOS Devices Unlimited Results
- Pasmark iOS Benchmarks
Optimizing for better test results
If you do find that your device’s benchmark score does not quite match up to the performance results uploaded by others you do have some performance tuning options before running the tests again:
Turn off the network – Provided the benchmarking app you are running can perform in a disconnected state,placing your device into Airplane mode will not only power down all of the radios on your device, but will also inhibit the device from checking the network for updates and changes. Receiving a phone call or FaceTime invitation would not be good for the test.
Force all apps to close – Apps that you have launched previously are actually still considered to be ‘running’ in a suspended state and can receive notifications that will ‘wake them up’ to perform certain tasks in the background. By forcing all apps to close, you effectively shut them down and they no longer will be able to perform their background activities.
Reduce background interference – Spotlight search, notifications, and background app refresh can each have a an impact on how well your device performs. To control how much of an impact this can have, you can selectively turn on only the items you want spotlight to search for (Settings > General > Spotlight Search), select only the important apps you need to be notified by (Settings > Notification Center > Include), and finally allow just the apps you really want to update automatically (Settings > General > Background App Refresh).
Create at least 25 percent free space – Apps, photos, music, movies and books all take up space on your device and can affect the performance of your device. The general rule is to plan on keeping approximately 25 percent of your storage free in order to optimize performance. This has to do with the way that memory works and the fact that writing to a free block of memory is faster than reading, modifying and writing back to a partially free block of memory. In the General settings under About, simply divide the “Available” number by the “Capacity” number to see how much free space you have.
Reset some but not all settings – What you want to do only as a last resort is Erase All Content and Settingsas that will wipe your device clean. Instead, you can be more selective as to what settings you decide to reset. Using Reset All Settings will not delete any of your apps, media files or data, but it will remove all of the configurations you have made on the device. This includes network settings as well as email account settings.
Wait until the device is cool to the touch – Performing any benchmark task right after running a CPU intensive task can push the device to run a little hot. Even running multiple successive tests in a row can heat things up a bit. When things get too hot, the device may slow down its performance or even cause the screen to go black in extreme cases.
Power the device off and back on – One of the catch-all fixes to a wide variety of issues that you can run into with your iOS devices is to simply restart your device. Simple press and hold the Sleep/Wake button on the top of your device until you see the “slide to power off” control on the screen. You may be amazed at how often this simple fix works.