iPad and iPhone 4: Benchmarking the iOS 4.3 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.

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