Firefox for Android 2x Faster Than Native Browser


Last night, while I was getting some hands on time with the Motorola Xoom, the Mozilla folks were busy launching the latest beta version of Firefox for Android and Maemo. For these eight reasons mentioned prior, I’m extremely happy with the Dolphin HD browser. It’s the default window to the web on both my Samsung Galaxy Tab and my Nexus One smartphone. But when I read the release notes for the latest Firefox beta and spied several key performance improvements, I had to try it. And I’m glad I did because I learned something very surprising: the JavaScript engine is more 216 percent faster on the stock Tab browser and more than 248 percent quicker than Dolphin HD. And Firefox brings a small but noticeable speed boost to the new Xoom, too. Here’s a look at the benchmark tests:


If you’re unfamiliar with some of these terms, let me quickly explain. SunSpider is a benchmarking test used to compare JavaScript performance between browsers. SunSpider solely tests JavaScript (a scripting language that enables functionality in web pages) functionality in the browser. A faster JavaScript engine, for example, can make web-based interfaces, such as Google’s Gmail, perform faster. The lower the SunSpider result, the faster the tested browser will be for JavaScript functions. For mobile devices, this is key, because much of the mobile web’s functionality is built upon JavaScript and a faster engine speeds up the experience on a smartphone or tablet.

For f0lks interested in the raw benchmark numbers for Android’s native browser and the Firefox beta, here they are:

  • Galaxy Tab: 5850.2 ms in Chrome Android Browser, 2697.6 ms in Firefox
  • Motorola Xoom: 2119.4 ms in Chrome Android Browser, 1787.8 ms in Firefox

I haven’t yet put Firefox through the paces for usability, which of course, is an equally important aspect of any software. But for the time being, I’m going to give Firefox a chance. I’ve just set it as the primary browser for my Galaxy Tab to give it a fair shake. I might have done so sooner if I used Firefox on the desktop; the mobile browser can automatically sync bookmarks, history, saved passwords and open tabs with its desktop counterpart.

Update: Although the native Android Browser takes some user interface cues from the open source Chromium browser project — which Google’s Chrome browser is based upon — I’ve updated the post for clarity, changing “Chrome” to “Android Browser.” The name change obviously doesn’t affect the tests, but is a more accurate reflection of the browsers used.

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