iOS Browser Benchmarks

There are many different ways to compare browsers. You could decide based on it’s raw performance, it’s effects on battery life, its third party plugins, its feature set, syncing between desktop and mobile versions, built-in VPN features, ad blocking, or even the cuteness of its mascot (Firefox has them all beaten there, seen below). In this post, I take a look at six popular iOS browsers, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, iCab, and Dolphin, I used the Jetstream and Motionmark benchmarks from browserbench.org. Each browser was tested on the 9.7″ iPad Pro with no other applications running in the background, with sleep turned off, and with the device plugged in. The Jetstream benchmark checked JavaScript capabilities. JavaScript is the scripting language that powers much of the web. The other benchmark, Motionmark, measures graphical capabilities. Though the best browser isn’t necessarily the fastest, and while these benchmarks cannot offer a perfect measure of performance, they do give us a good idea. Surprisingly, a few browsers made giant leaps in performance, while others are just as slow as ever. 


Jetstream Benchmark

Jetstream JavaScript Benchmark

The Jetstream benchmark measures JavaScript performance. This is the scripting language that powers client-side web behavior. That means it’s run on your computer, not delivered through your internet connection. Things like loading HTML5 elements, displaying images, resizing the screen, displaying animations, or performing asynchronous website modifications are done in JavaScript. If your browser cannot load JavaScript quickly, it’ll often feel slow and sluggish, both when opening a webpage and also when interacting with it. It’s here that we can see the greatest difference between the browsers tested. Apple originally did not allow third party developers to have access to their fastest JavaScript engine, forcing them to use a slower engine. This made Safari the fastest browser by default. However, Apple finally decided to stop their unfair practice, and allowed all browser developers the chance to use the super fast Nitro JavaScript engine. However, not all browser developers have gotten on board. Safari just barely outperformed Chrome and Firefox, but the nembers where so close that it’s likely safe to say they have equal performance. Opera, iCab Mobile, Dolphin, and many other third party browsers, are still using the old engine, and come in far slower than the more recently updated browsers. 

Motionmark Benchmark

Motionmark Graphics Benchmark


The Motionmark benchmark measures raw graphics performance. This is as much a test of the hardware as it is the browser. It’s clear that the fastest browser here is still Safari, with its minimum performance outperforming all other browsers, but once again, Firefox and Google Chrome were close to Safari’s performance. Opera, iCab Mobile, and Dolphin are, unfortunately, still at the bottom of the list, but the difference in speed wasn’t as drastic. iCab Mobile performed the worst by a wide margin. The raw data for both this test and the Jetstream JavaScript benchmarks are at the bottom of this post. 

When it comes to browser performance, Safari just barely beats out Chrome and Firefox, but all three crush older browsers. Of course, performance isn’t everything. Safari may be the fastest browser, and, since it was developed by Apple, is likely the most efficient when it comes to battery life (another review of that will come later), but there are other features to consider. Opera can do ad blocking and open a VPN connection without plugins. Google Chrome will sync your settings across all of your devices, so if you have multiple phones, some on Android, some on iOS, and some on Windows or macOS, you can find all your same settings and favorites. Firefox can also do this. Both Chrome and Firefox have a wide array of add-ons available on the desktop, so you may want to use either of these to both sync your settings and, on the desktop, make use of a wide array of customization. iCab is perfect for more advanced users, as it comes with a wide variety of options, including an option to make your iOS device look like a desktop computer to websites, so you always get the desktop version of a page. Safari has dual-page mode and syncs with iCloud across your iOS and macOS devices, and also has battery battery life on macOS than Chrome or Firefox. There are many reasons you might choose one browser over another, but performance is certainly a key one for many people. Safari might be the best when it comes to performance, but only slightly on iOS, and is that what matters to you most? 

Raw Data:

Jetstream Benchmark (JavaScript)

Motionmark Benchmark (Graphics)


Oh, and, as promised, here’s Mozilla Firefox’s brave little test pilot, who has helped Firefox test their new browser features. I know it’s so cute it makes me want to use Firefox too!

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