iPad vs iPad 2: RAM performance in Mobile Safari

As you can see from the video above, the iPad 2 using the Apple A5 chip combined with more RAM performs much better than the original iPad when browsing in Mobile Safari. If you load up all nine tabs, you'll see that the original iPad starts to choke up pretty badly when compared to the iPad 2. This is due to the original iPad only coming with 256MB of RAM while iPad 2 comes packed with 512MB. (We hoped for as much as 1GB in the video before getting more test results back. Maybe next year!.)

The original iPad tends to "kill" background tabs whenever it runs out of available memory, which can get pretty annoying if you use the iPad primarily for web browsing. The iPad 2 performed flawlessly and had no hiccups when browsing. Also the dreaded "checkerboard effect" -- where significant lag would occur before Safari could render the web page content -- is nowhere to be found. Scrolling in Safari is smooth as butter, and gone are the days when switching between tabs meant loading the entire page from scratch.

The difference in performance is quite clear, and browsing on the iPad 2 is definitely a step up from the original iPad in every way. If you were able to pick up an iPad 2 then let us know your thoughts on RAM performance and how it compares to the first iPad in the comments below!

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

iPad vs iPad 2: RAM performance in Mobile Safari


I don't get these results at all, having loaded 9 different websites on my iPad 2. Switching between open tabs/sites causes each page to reload, with the standard checkerboard effect also occurring. Perhaps you should have tried loading pages from a site other than your own? Granted loading pages is faster on iPad 2 vs. Original.

4.3 increases the speed at which Mobile Safari can render pages due to the Nitro JavaScript engine and other tweaks. It doesn't do anything to help caching pages in RAM. My iPad 1 on 4.3 is still abysmally bad at it.

"My iPad 1 on 4.3 is still abysmally bad at it."
Those are some pretty strong words against a device that got stellar reviews. Web browsing is touted as a strong suit of the iPad, but now that the iPad 2 is out that has changed?
I understand that the focus and comments here are about caching, but where was this information in the original reviews? Will the iPad 2 be abysmally bad at it with the 1GB iPad 3 comes out?

No, rene is 100% correct. I didnt really listen to the reviews when the first one came out. The loading of web pages on iPad one was horrible. TONS OS checker board effect. I have tested the second iPad and there is almost none of it. Darn good improvement because that really annoyed me about the first one. The reason I didn't buy the first one wa because it was not at all powerful enough and I felt the entire system to be sluggish. I think they designed the A4 processor for the smaller screen on the iPhone, and although it ran well on the iPad, I really did feel the speed difference between the iPad and the iPhone. Now, this A5 processor is really speeding things up. And the browser's engine is great. I still think iOS Is severely lacking in a LOT of aspects, especially now that I own an iPhone, so I still have issues justifying my purchase of an iPad. But hey, it's very stable. Which more than any other system in the market can do.

When iPad 1 came out I didn't get Ine mainly because my iphone4 actually performed better, even though the CPU was only running 800MHz compared to the iPads 1GHz. It made up for this by having twice the RAM.
Now iPad2 had 2 1Ghz cores, and the same RAM as the iPhone4, it will make using the iPad feel much better.
Nothing wrong with the original performance, but really does show where the compromises were made to keep the really low price point.

In the world of technology, standards of acceptable performance always change. Otherwise we would all be happy with our Apple II's.

I can say without a doubt I have never opened 9 tabs at a time on my desktop, much less my iPad. How does the RAM difference affect the real world?

I usually have around 20-30 tabs in any browser I have open on my desktop, and I sometimes have as high as 10-15 on my phone(n900). It performs okay(256mb RAM + 768mb swap) but it could definitely benefit from 512 or even 1gb.

At work, intranet open most of the time in one tab. The the staff contact directory in another, then there is our whatsup gold monitor page, and the webmin page I often have open on my development server. Then my igoogle page, and google reader page for news. Then anything else that I open ad hoc. It adds up. This is just on my phone, I have no ideas if an iPad would be used as much as I would nt always have it with me like my phone.

How funny is it I can watch this video with flash on my Xoom but the brand new I pad could not.

It's a YouTube video. iOS has supported that since 2007 and it's playing fine on both my iPad and iPad 2 right now (if it doesn't play for you there may be a problem on YouTube's end.
Also, Xoom doesn't currently support Flash. So, um... LOL.

I was gonna say the same thing. Lol. Just watched on iPhone 4 then for the hell of it after reading your comment watched on my iPad. No problems.
@Jeff FYI .......Check out the Xoom review on Information Week. Very complete. Any comments Jeff??

Hahaha!!! Yeah that's funny. Xoom was a premature launch. No microsd support, no flash, no 4G. Even though it has the capability to do all three..... "soon"

Boy, you Roid Trollers have been quiet of late......and to think this is the comment you post as your "wakeup"?
Xoom......Samsung Tab........hmm, iPad killers?
Back to the drawing board, boys.

Yeah, the XOOM IS better than the iPad 2, or at least, on par with it. The first Galaxy Tab isn't as good as the iPad 2, but the new ones, which are thinner, lighter, and more powerful than the iPad 2, destroy it :)

@John. Thanks for your post because I would have repeated what I read here. I even would have used that as a reason to upgrade. Let's me know to check other sites for reviews.
To the author: Major credibility issue.

i dont think the point was website comparison, the author is showing you that on the same website, with the same multiple tabs open, the refresh is more frequent on the first gen iPad. there is no creditability issue.

My point is that points about no checker boards and live loaded pages vs iPad 1 were debunked by the comment. If you are ok with that review then that's that. Some my have cast that review in stone and used as a reason to buy the pad. I just think more testing should have been done. Jumped the gun. Just my opinion. I don't want to get into a pissing contest about it.

Actually, loading pages from one website is a good test of the iPad 2's increased RAM because images files and HTML code will have a common URL under a common refresh hash in the cache. This almost exclusively tests the cache, which presumably can be larger on a device with twice the available RAM. If you use multiple sites you will likely run into multiple refresh requirements as dictated by the different sites' content rules (e.g. - CNN wants you to get new content every few seconds vs. MacRumors which is OK every hour). Checker boarding seems to be some secret sauce in the algorithm that Apple uses to free up RAM by prioritizing top of fold content, especially on no active pages. More RAM obviously means more content can be stored until you have to make the decision to push it out of RAM.
Give the guy a break, it's not like he's trying to sell you government health care. If you don't want to buy an iPad 2 then buy an iPad 1 on Craigslist, or become and Andriod fanboy where you can have a lot more opportunity to compare and complain about speeds and feeds.

@JBone...I am typing this reply on my ipad 1. The second one I have purchased. I also own an iphone 4 and previously a 3g and 3gs (recently sold on Craigslist). I also owned a ipod Touch 2g which I gave to my kid then replaced his 2g with a 4g Touch for xmas. Oh steered my mom and aunt to purchase ipod touches 3g and 4th gen. I dont know why you injected the Android comment.
So you see I am not a Android Troll. Quite the opposite but just dont let it rule my opinion. Having a comment that does not bow to the author does not make me a Android Troll.
This Apple vs Android crap is rediculous. I am a graphic artist who works on PC and there was once a time when the mac vs pc thing was as rediculous as this. Very childish. If we can afford Ipad's we cam afford Xoom, Galaxy's etc so it's about preference. None of us should be on a high horse just because we chose to by ipad's.

Things have been flawless for me so far. The checkers have only shown for me when there was lag on my network. At least that's how it has seemed so far. Nothing hardware related has struck me as slow yet. As for flash, I downloaded an app last night that lets you browse sites with full flash support for free... It's not absolutely flawless, but it sure beats paying an extra $300 for one feature.

I noticed the iPad 1 is jailbroken so is probably running iOS4.2.1 (if it's running 4.3, that makes you my new best friend :). That makes the comparison flawed. I agree that cacheing isn't affected by the Nitro tweaks but the page drawing (checkerboard when scrolling) might be.
A better comparison would have been with both running 4.3.

Good point, but I got similar results on my IPad1 which is running 4.3 with regard to the page reloads and checker boarding, but it did seem a little faster responding. 4.3 didn't change the RAM so his cache issues I believe are stil valid.

Why bring up xoom on a Apple blog. I love everything Apple and I don't go to androidcentral and brag about it. I just don't go there makes sense right?

The page reloading looks like cache to me too. What I'd like to know is whether the tests were started with clean memory on both devices. That is, if the iPad 2 has it's memory full (the switcher loaded with other apps) before you launch Safari, does it perform differently? That would be real world usage.
I think the checkerboarding might be more related to rendering speed, where the faster processor obviously helps.

I still don't have my iPad 2, but the demo units at the Apple store and best buy both had checker boarding on sites like Engadget with a lot of images and it still takes a good 2-3 seconds to load. I hope this gets fixed soon. I really hate waiting for a web page to load on a site that has already been pre loaded. That having been said,I really look forward to safari not closing my browsing tabs.

This was my biggest comolaint about my iPad 1. I would rather pick up my iPhone 4 and look at the web instead of waiting for page to load, and then dealing with the checkerboarding.
I do call BS on Rene though. He's been touting his iPad love for a year now and now he admits the web experience is "abysmally bad" (his words, not mine). We still love you though Rene...

I love the original iPad, but do have to admit that web browsing using multiple tabs could be better. Perhaps "abysmally bad" is a little strong, but the fact that tabs reload almost every time you switch between them does get annoying. However, single tab web browsing on the iPad rocks.

I'm glad to hear that pages don't reload. On the original iPad, I would have 2 or 3 tabs open and each time I would switch back and forth, they would reload. I can't wait to get an iPad 2, with this just being one of the many reasons.

I know this test was supposed to show how much faster iPad2 is compared to it's predecessor... but how many people are going to have 9 pages open at once? :)
Big LOLZ at people calling iPad1 speed "horrible" and "abysmal"... and just think, you didn't even have these things to complain about until last year :)

I can safely say I just opened 9 tabs with high memory websites in each one like sky news ect.. And when I had 9 tabs open it switched between each one without loading. In your test did you have any games or apps open in multitasking?

All these people who love the iPad and think it's the best thing since sliced bread.. Its crap.
The iPad 1 has 256mb of ram, the iPad 2 has whoa 256mb WOW. My mobile phone has 768mb of ram, my mobile also has dual core cpus, unlike the iPad 1.
So tell me why an iPad is so expensive when they're technically crap? And to be fair browsing on them is pathetic, it can be painfully slow and stutter on decent websites, god help anyone using HTML5 sites on a iPad 1 with its crap CPU and total lack of RAM.
Here's a joke for you, my phone has more free RAM than the iPad 2 has, why bother with an iPad?

Hardware is only half of the story. Ram is only slow when all used up. With apps and a browser you don't really need lots of ram. My pc has 4gb but rarely uses over 1gb. Software is key with apple products, not hardware.

Dear Andrew: Safari on the iPad does not have "tabs." It has page thumbnails. Or you could just call them "pages."

I must not have used that many tabs on my original iPad. I tend to just read one webpage at a time and just flick around using that.
Saying that I got rid of my iPad after a couple of months after realising that a MacBook Pro and iPhone 4 was enough.

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