iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S vs iPad 3 vs Android: Benchmark shootout

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S vs iPad 3 vs the other guys: Benchmarks

For some, simply knowing that the new iPhone 5 is twice as fast as the last iPhone is enough. But some of us want numbers. We want to know how much faster. Sure, Apple typically brings experience to a spec fight, but it's the specs that drive the experience. It's the engine in the meticulously appointed car. It's the stats behind the championship team. It's the science behind the art.

So with that in mind we ran the iPhone 5 through a whole battery of benchmarks, and to give it some context we put it up head to head, device to device against the iPhone 4S, iPad 3, and added in scores for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and a sampling of other, competing phones like the HTC One X, the Nokia Lumia 900, and the BlackBerry 10 Developer Alpha.

Benchmarking environment

Pulling a device out of the box and running benchmarks is fine, but it doesn't necessarily give real world results. Odds are the first thing you'll do is load up your iPhone 5 with the usual suspects - apps, games, contacts, calendars, reminders, music, video, etc..

So for this test I restored an iCloud backup to my iPhone 5 that's already on my iPad 3 and iPhone 4S so they're both loaded with tons of the same data. It seems a little more practical than comparing it straight out of the box. All devices were also running the iOS 6 public release candidate.

As a preface, the only thing I did before performing any of these benchmarks was close out all apps from the multitasking tray. At the time either the benchmarking app was the only thing running or Safari in order to obtain the benchmarks.

The Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry 10 results were not performed by us. They are averages from each respective benchmarking site or verified data from on of our cross-platform sites - Android Central, wpcentral, or Crackberry.

Geekbench

Geekbench iphone 5 benchmarks

The iPhone 4S uses an Apple A5 system-on-a-chip (SoC), which combines a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor clocked at 800MHz with a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics chip and 512MB of RAM. The iPad 3 ups the game with an A5X SoC with the same CPU clocked at 1GHz, a quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4 graphics chip, and 1GB of RAM.

For the iPhone 5, instead of licensing the next-generation ARM design, the A15, Apple custom-built their own Apple A6 SoC based on the ARM instruction set. It's a dual-core ARMv7 processor reportedly clocked around 1.25GHz along with a triple-core SGX 543MP3 and 1GHz of RAM.

To put all this into perspective, we performed a hard reboot on each device, killed all running apps, and then ran tests using Geekbench 2 for iOS. Now Geekbench isn't a great comparison tool -- writing something that tests CocoaTouch apps on iOS, JVM apps on Google, and other platforms in a consistent way is nearly impossible. How fast Infinity Blade 2 launches, or the App Store loads up its interface, or the camera takes to shoot a picture is a better indicator of day-to-day performance. However, it's the tool we have and the number everyone always asks for, so we're running it.

Geekbench looks at all kinds of information across the entire system, including integer, floating point, memory, and stream performance.Higher numbers are better.

iPhone 5

iphone 5 geekbench results

The iPhone 5 scored between 1500 and 1650 each time we ran the rest. The average of 5 consecutive tests was 1615.

iPhone 4S

iphone 4s geekbench results

After 5 consecutive tests, the average was around 635. That puts the iPhone 4S far lower on the Geekbench scale than the iPhone 5.

iPad 3

ipad 3 geekbench results

Our average result on Geekbench for the iPad 3 was around 750 after 5 consecutive tests.

The A5X processor obviously performs significantly better than the iPhone 4S' standard A5 but when it comes to the A6, the iPhone 5 wins each and every time.

Other devices

If you're wondering how the iPhone 5 stacks up against other devices that have been benchmarked using Geekbench, here are some reference numbers for popular Android devices.

  • Samsung Galaxy S III LTE - 1582
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (North America) - 1429
  • HTC One X - 1530

And just for fun:

  • MacBook Air (11-inch Mid 2012) - 6866
  • Power Mac G5 (June 2004) - 1580

Sunspider

Sunspider iPhone 5 benchmarks

Sunspider measures Javascript performance in the web browser. It includes real-world situations like encryption and text manipulation and measures response time in milliseconds for each test. After running each test 5 times, Sunspider gives an average number of time (in milliseconds). Like Geekbench, Sunspider can be a mixed bag. Some browsers include hacks designed just to do better on Sunspider. How fast iMore or the New York Times or Facebook loads on your phone is much better indicator. But again, it's a number people want to hear, so hear it it.

Lower numbers are better.

iPhone 5

iphone 5 sunspider results

I ran Sunspider on my iPhone 5 three times and each time I ended up around the 915 to 920 ms mark. While running the test I had no other app open on the device other than the native Safari browser.

iPhone 4S

iphone 4s sunspider results

Just like the iPhone 5, we ran the rest three times on the iPhone 4S will nothing open but Safari and after another hard reboot. All three tests resulted in a time of around 1800 ms.

When it comes to rendering Javascript, it's quite obvious the iPhone 5 can process it almost twice as fast as the iPhone 4S can.

iPad 3

ipad 3 sunspider results

The iPad 3 faired better than the iPhone 4S with an average score of around 1450 ms. It isn't a huge difference when it comes to rendering Javascript and probably not one that many users would even notice.

When compared to the iPhone 5, however, the A5X chipset can't hold its own against the A6. It's obvious the iPhone 5 is an all around faster device when it comes to system and rendering benchmarks.

Other devices

Here's some average benchmarks for other popular devices on the market and how they score with Sunspider on average. Remember, the lower the number the better.

  • Samsung Galaxy S III LTE - 1442
  • HTC One X - 1650
  • Nokia Lumia 900 - 6800

HTML5Test.com

HTML5Test.com iPhone 5 benchmarks

HTML5Test.com measures how well a browser supports and renders HTML5 content. While it isn't as in-depth as tests like Sunspider and Geekbench, it's still worth taking a look at if only to see how much companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and RIM prioritize HTML5 compliance.

iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, & iPad 3

HTML5Test for iOS

Considering the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPad 3 all run the same version of iOS and support the same native Safari browser within it, all three devices scored a total of 360 points plus 9 bonus points. HTML5Test.com uses a 500 point scale.

Other devices

HTML5 Test on other devices

Here's how a couple other devices stacked up when it came to HTML5 compatibility and support.

  • Blackberry 10 - 447 plus 10 bonus points
  • Android 4.x - 371 plus 11 bonus points
  • iOS 5.1 - 324 plus 9 bonus points
  • Windows Phone 8 - 300 plus 6 bonus points

The bottom line

Numbers are just numbers. Specs are just specs. They're part of the conversation, but they're not the only parts. Many Android phones seem to dwarf the iPhone when it comes to raw numbers and specs, but when real software runs on real hardware in the real world, almost all phone on all platform are doing amazingly well these days.

Android has a huge advantage in that new handsets hit the market far more often, and there's always a bigger, better Android flagship device on the horizon. Apple updates the iPhone about once a year. The month that a new iPhone is released, it will be a top contender for most powerful smartphone in the world. As the months go by, however, Samsung or HTC or someone else might easily put out an even more powerful monster.

Apple's advantage is in having that one phone a year, and in integrating the software and hardware together in such a way as its performance isn't merely about specs.

Right now Apple gets to enjoy a moment on top of the spec mountain, but it will likely be fleeting. What Apple does with those specs won't be, not with iOS 6, iOS 6.1, and other software versions to come.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S vs iPad 3 vs Android: Benchmark shootout

37 Comments

*Android has a huge advantage in that new handsets hit the market far more often, and there's always a bigger, better Android flagship device on the horizon. Apple updates the iPhone about once a year.*... advantage for WHO exactly ???... i would call it a huge disadvantage... for manufactures and androusers..... as iOS user U can enjoy a moment on top of the spec mountain and novelty for a year or two with each new iPhone ... ait : )

How many years apart where the release of ipad 3rd and 4th generations???? iphone is moving to 6 months cycle, if rumours are to be believed.

Those BB10 numbers are old. BB10 now shows 465 + 10 Bonus Points with leaked BB10 screen shots showing 475 +10 Bonus Points!!!

Just want to know where you got the results for the non-iPhone devices. You stated that you closed all background tasks for the iPhones and iPad... but are you comparing apples to apples. If the other devices were tested with background tasks running, it would skew the results in the iPhone 5's favor.

They're averaged results as posted on Geekbench, HTML5test, etc.

We also coordinated the article with the editors at Android Central.

Given that all the tests for the iPhone 5, by a wide range of media organizations, and the test suites themselves all show the same thing, any conspiracy theories are likely of the decidedly silly kind.

Was just curious. I don't have any conspiracy theories just pointing out that you made the point that you kill the background tasks but did not state how the other devices were setup for their tests. If you are randomly pulling results of others and don't know how they tested the devices then it wouldn't be an accurate comparison.

That being said, I really don't care about other tests from others media and tech orgs, as I was reading an article about your tests and your results, not others. Nor did you mention in the article that you coordinated the article with Android Central. Had you added that information into your article there would have been no questions. Otherwise, the question/comment is fair. I just want balanced information for when I decide to purchase a new phone in the next few months.

Yup there always is 1. Unlike most iFans, Fandroid, Crackberrys and whatever they call Window's people, I haven't drank the Apple/Android/Blackberry/Windows kool-aid. Before I buy any bit of electronics (phones, TV's, computers, printers, etc.) that I'll have to live with for a few years I do this amazing thing called research to understand differences and similarities and pros and cons. Then I spend extra time picking through the huge bias I see from the iFans, Fanadroid, Crackberrys and again whatever they call Windows people to determine which device is best for what I need.

So for me determining the test results are accurate is important. I have found and it drives me nuts at how biased the different Mobile Nation websites are, so yes I am going to question results. I do the same on Android Central, Crackberry and WPCentral. However, I definitely get attacked more by the iFans on iMore and other Apple sites than I do the other sites. I don't understand why everyone on the Apple sites thinks that raising questions about test results, features and specs of a phone is a conspiracy theory instead of what it is... a question to clarify.

So again yes there is always 1. But in this case that 1 is simply to remove the bias and verify the accuracy of an article as that 1 understands how the masses for cults for their favorite devices.

Hey @Rene, I don't know if it is me, but you seem to reply to comments in a very defensive way very often. Sometimes you even sound very rude. I don't think the person who asked about the other tests was formulating a "conspiracy theory." Please think about this next time you think about replying to one of your commenters. In some way, we are your customers.

Anytime I listen to Rene Ritchie on the Android Central Podcast, (or the general Mobile Nations podcast) he always seems quite fair for the most part.
Also, about what was said--in terms of most Mobile Nations writers being biased--I would both agree and disagree with you.
Yes, all of them write with a little slant. Yes, *sometimes* they tend to ignore faults, or at least they usually have explanations for them.
But--at the end of the day..it's their job. Most people don't want to buy a--let's say Blackberry--and then join Crackberry, only to read "Crackberry Kevin" highlighting every single bad decision RIM has made. These are fair and legit sites, however they are still fan sites where people go to share their enthusiasm and tips for a common device.
So basically, I get what you're saying, and occasionally, I roll my eyes at certain articles too--but these guys do have mostly objective viewpoints, which you can really notice when they speak to each other on a podcast.
A portion of their job though, will always involve them telling people what they want to hear, and I'd say their business model is pretty successful so far--wouldn't you agree?

Great article, but this statement:

"... it's the specs that drive the experience. "

Makes no sense at all.

What your article proves is that the iPhone 5 with a *slower* processor and *half* the cores of the Android competition, beats them all handily anyway. It's not the specs that drive the experience at all, it's the results, and the results here owe more to design and attention to detail than they do to the specs.

It's goofs like you that give Apple and iPhone owners a bad name. Software optimization is the key here, if you want raw specs, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Quad-LTE version running stock jelly bean smokes everything out on the market right now.

iPhone 5 (1 ghz, A6 dual-core, custom SoC chip), 1 gb ram, PowerVR SGX 543MP3 GPU.
Galaxy S3 Quad-LTE (1.4 ghz, Exynos quad-core), 2 gb ram, Mali 400 GPU.

If the iPhone utilized those specs/hardware with iOS6, you'd have the fastest, smoothest, and most powerful mobile OS performance ever seen.

"If the iPhone utilized those specs/hardware with iOS6, you'd have the fastest, smoothest, and most powerful mobile OS performance ever seen."

We have that anyway.

Really, the performance war is over? No need for you to ever upgrade from your iPhone 5 then I guess. What a sad day for consumers.

These kinds of tests are just ripe for flame wars... Especially since there is no unified Benchmark that truly measures all aspects of a smartphone.

A lot of these are also software-dependent. Numbers drastically change when you run the latest leaks or versions of software.

lol you're very right about that as it's been pointed out that the S3 gained points when it was running 4.1 but since it's not officially released yet it's not counted due to the software not being an official build distributed by Samsung.

A very good reporting, keep up the good work, and cant wait for my iphone 5 :), and can you make some more practical comparison of iphone 5 and day to day usage such as apps opening, heavy games playing, opening heavy html5 and java based websites. As these numbers just show about hardware, not about total platform.

these tests, like all bench marks, are crap. just like when Nvidia vs ATI, the bench marks come out better for certain software.

Also, none of these are optimized for a quad core device, so half the power isn't even used.

these are impressive, but they mean precisely, jack and shit.

True. Then again, since 99+% of apps aren't optimized for quad cores, that spec doesn't mean much either for everyday use does it?

Some people get too caught up in benchmarks, some get too caught up in specs. Most people care only about the everyday experience, which is great on any top level phone today.

Damn, that article pic would make for some good wallpaper. Now all I need to do is find two iPhone 5's. lol

I 'm surprised the 5 does so well since the 4S was so far behind. There's no doubt the hardware is less than the other phones out there, and it makes me wonder if it is truly optimization or just the fact that iOS is a much simpler OS. Regardless, it's great to see them pushing Android OEMs to do better again.

One thing is certain, this fierce competition has been great for consumers.

Regardless if you are using the iphone 4 or 4s, the iphone 5 is a signfiicant enough improvement that it warrants upgrading, whether or not your free upgrade is available from your carrier. If it isn't you could try selling your old phone for around $356.56 http://www.movaluate.com/apple/iphone-4s-16gb-att-black According to Movaluate's fair price appraisal, you should be able to easily sell your phone for that much, which could help pay for the $750~ y ou will need for teh iphone 5 off contract.