You may have noticed today's review of the Palm Pre. While I strongly suggest reading it if you're at all interested, I do have some new data for your consumption. After the announcement of the iPhone 3GS I posted an article discussing the hardware specs of the 3GS. I outlined the single chip CPU/GPU SoC as follows:

  iPhone 3G (ARM11) iPhone 3GS (ARM Cortex A8)
Manufacturing Process 90nm 65nm
Architecture In-Order In-Order
Issue Width 1-issue 2-issue
Pipeline Depth 8-stage 13-stage
Clock Speed 412MHz 600MHz
L1 Cache Size 16KB I-Cache + 16KB D-Cache 32KB I-Cache + 32KB D-Cache
L2 Cache Size N/A 256KB


The iPhone 3GS uses an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600MHz, much like the Palm Pre. Many weren't confident that the 3GS used the new ARM A8 core instead of a higher clocked ARM11, so after waiting in line to grab a 3GS this morning I decided to run a few tests (the iPhone 3G tests were using OS 3.0 and the Pre tests used OS 1.0.2).

Update: Thanks to the many readers who have pointed out my incorrect wording of the 3GS' performance improvements. The tables in the article have been updated to reflect the correct percentages. I appreciate the corrections :)

WiFi Apple iPhone 3G Apple iPhone 3GS Palm Pre T-Mobile G1 16.3 s 7.8 s 8.2 s 17.2 s 17.7 s 6.3 s 7.8 s 17.8 s 35.2 s 14.7 s 11.2 s 24.4 s 33.3 s 15.0 s 18.0 s 34.0 s 34.3 s 15.0 s 22.1 s 40.0 s 24.1 s 9.6 s 9.0 s 20.5 s 21.4 s 16.4 s 13.8 s 26.0 s 26.0 s 10.0 s 20.9 s 46.0 s 31.7 s 13.5 s 19.6 s 37.7 s
iPhone 3GS Advantage over Palm Pre   21%    
iPhone 3GS Advantage over iPhone 3G   122%    


The new 3GS renders web pages 128% faster, on average, than the old iPhone 3G. The 45% clock speed boost alone isn't enough to generate such a large performance increase, this is a new microarchitecture. Also, note that the 3GS' performance mimics that of the Palm Pre - another Cortex A8 based phone.

Not too surprising given the just-released nature of the Pre's webOS, the 3GS is actually able to render webpages slightly faster than the Pre in some cases. The overall performance advantage ends up being 22.6% in favor of the 3GS over the Pre.

Application launch time has also improved (I've updated the results with data from the iPhone OS 3.0):

Application Launch Time in Seconds Web Browser Dialer Google Maps Camera Email
Apple iPhone 3GS 0.7 s 0.7 s 2.7 s 2.8 s 0.8 s
Apple iPhone 3G 0.8 s 1.2 s 3.3 s 3.9 s 1.2 s
Palm Pre 3.0 s 1.5 s 8.6 s 4.4 s 3.3 s
T-Mobile G1 5.4 s 2.0 s 4.4 s 4.9 s 2.0 s
iPhone 3GS vs. 3G Performance Advantage 14% 71.5% 22.2% 39.4% 50%


While the old iPhone 3G was no slouch, the 3GS is anywhere from 14 - 72% faster in basic application load times. It's the magic of a brand new CPU architecture.

I'll be working on the 3GS all weekend and hope to provide a more thorough look at CPU, GPU and battery life performance with the new hardware. Enjoy.

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  • SydneyBlue120d - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    I' d really like to see how these devices compare to the Samsung Omnia HD (the most advanced Symbian phone to date) and the soon to be released Samsung i7500 (sporting a platform similaro to the HTC Magic) running Android 1.5 OS.
  • MultiCarrierUser - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    You're going to sit there and tell me that wi-fi is a true test? Because ATT & Sprint cannot connect at the same time? Hmm? Alright, example: Dallas TX, both ATT and Sprint have superb coverage there. You can run iphone 3gs and palm pre data at the same time..why cant you test then? I agree, reset both devices and search from scratch, pull up sites, big you know what i mean. I stand corrected about the robust amount of apps..though i do know that pre has an app emulator that allows you to run old programs from prev palm devices and even allows 2way cable synching. Yes I ran 20 apps, the last 4 apps did take awhile to come up, but finally did. As far as I can see, the iphone will not allow multiple major apps to be ran at the same time. So how do you call that a true multi-tasking device. I still believe all the apps are a simple solution for the slow att data network. I repeat again, i stand corrected about the many apps that i posted. i have no problem with being corrected, i appreciate everyone checking me on that! i am not bias on my feedback, i do know that that the pre will not allow you to forward sms text, yet, sw update coming soon to fix that issue. the software update that came 1.0.3 did come quick, yet did fix major issues because of the overwhelming feedback given to palm on the pre's release date. those guys work quick. Question, can you watch tv on the new iphone? Still wont allow you to remove the battery if it fails to boot up?
  • solipsism - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    How many times must you be told? The coverage of the city does not mean the tests will be equal. Users on the tower, the distance from the tower, the throughput of that particular tower, etc. all affect the latency, upload and download speeds for various file sizes. This will change throughout the day and where you move to in relation to the tower and what towers you are on. That is why using the SAME WiFi connection connected to the SAME internet connection the SAME distance from the router is the more fair test for judging the page rendering speed of each device.
  • MultiCarrierUser - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    Which will be used more by users? Their on personal carrier or wi-fi? so forget the controlled wi-fi test and get with the real world test! So don't act like you know, just straight up know!
  • PoundSand - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Nice comparison overall, but your web browsing benchmark is a little whack- some sites (slashdot for example) return a iphone optimized site based on the user agent - i.e. you're essentially testing loading two different sites.
  • Lifedelinquent - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    The link says 700,000 apps downloaded, not 700,000 apps to download.
  • MultiCarrierUser - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    The software update for webOS 1.0.3 is less than 36 hours old. But that upgrade fixes a lot: Echange Certificate SSL, Battery Optimization, speed...oh did you know the pre now has approximate 700,000 apps now!! Don't believe me, check out this site:"> sooooo looks like the pre is going to be just fine. has anyone tested the iphone 3gs vs palm pre using their carriers own data network, not this convoluted wi-fi..also how do we know that the sites have not been viewed before..if the cookies have not been deleted then its going to recall the site faster than if cookies were cleared before the no true details were given, they just hooked up to wi-fi and off you go. Come do you really think you'll be using wi-fi every place you go? No, you'll use ATT's slow data speed. Oh is that why the iphone has sooo many apps? app this, app that, app for everything, why because it would take too long getting there on att data network. why am i talking like this, i have the iphone and pre, lol att unlimited plan is too expensive: $99 unlimited talk + $30 unlimited data + $20 unlimited text total $149.99, Sprint: Unlimited talk, data, text, navigation, live tv, and more for total $99.99, a $50 less plan and gives you more and a sweet pre plus the data power to multi-task, oh on the iphone how many apps can you run at once? I ran 20 apps on the pre before it began to bog down..few that i ran: pandora, facebook, cnn, google, sprint tv, live search, youtube...Linux OS is the truth!!!!
  • solipsism - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    1) A Linux OS may be the truth to you, but your comments on this site are from the truth.

    2) As previously stated, but reiterated because I find it impossible that you just simply made a mistake, but there are not 700k apps for the Pre, compared to the iPhone’s 50k. They don’t even a public SDK available. If you are going to lie at least try to be clever about it.

    3) The x.x.3 update for the Pre should be an indication that the update is relatively minor. There are no major changes that have been discovered. The OS is not using the HW better and the battery is still where it was before.

    4) The reason WiFi is being used is because both devices can connect to the same network at the same time in the same place. Sprint nor AT&T is dominate or faulty in all areas, which is why the Pre lost out to Anand’s testing of the iPhone 3G (not 3GS) and the Pre at the link below.">

    5) Sprint’s unlimited everything is cheaper than AT&T’s unlimited everything, as Anand states, but that is how things work between a faltering company trying to keep users from leaving and a company that is having activation issues from having too many users activate new phones at once. If Sprint were a dominate carrier with wider coverage and good phones they surely wouldn’t have to make such discounts… which don’t seem to be working anyway. On top that, most people don’t need all that, and the $69 is the same between devices, expect for the SMS, but adults tend not to care about that, especially when they have email.

    6) You may have ran 20 apps at once but the bogging started right away as each new app will take an allotment of RAM and CPU cycles as needed. What you may have meant is that you could open up 20 apps before the system told you couldn’t open up any more, but I have doubts that you got that many open at once.

    7) The current iPhone now has plenty or RAM free to allow for background apps, and I’m sure Apple will be releasing the option to iPhone 3GS or newer iPhones and Touches in the future, once the logistics and coding are worked out. Running multiple webpages in the background using the Apple-funded WebKit is not exactly the same as running a C-based app with rich frameworks.

    8) If you think the Pre is so fast and you apparently have both devices then test the Pre’s app opening with the iPhone’s from a cold start. Restore from factory is you must. If you don’t want to, no bother, as there will others testing them shortly, but if you do it at least you’ll see that Anand and the rest of the internet isn’t lying to you.

    PS: Sent from my iPhone. Good luck with your Pre
  • Ehsan - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    On number 2, OP made a mistake. He meant to say 700k times downloaded. He missed a word downloaded which you should have caught the mistake if you clicked on link.
    On number 3, battery life is much better after upgrade and if you read Anand "Palm Pre" review you would know that it almost matched Iphone 3G battery life. Even Apple speech about 'native multitasking is waste of battery life' sound too hollow at this point.
    On number 4, Update itself is not important given your theory that its not major update (major update is coming in August that include video recording & more features) but timing is important. With so less people on payroll compared to Apple they are doing phenomenal job.
    On number 5, Adult do care about messaging. Its faster and easy. Not everyone is a geek like us who got Imap or exchange. Also price is important when it goes up to be more than $1000 after 2 year contract. And did I mention free roaming with Verizon when Sprint network not available? Also it matters when one provider gives turn by turn navigation along with google map for free while other one announces 3rd party accessory for now and will bomb us with price of tomtom app later. There are other things that matters but I will just leave that alone for now.
    On number 6, Even if Pre runs 6 to 8 apps (my normal use), its better than Iphone. In my experience mutliple apps didnt slowdown the OS or UI.
    On number 7, I used backgrounder app from Cydia and concur with you that due to C-based apps & rich framework it simply is not easy to do multitasking on Iphone, even on 3GS. Its just the way it is.
    On number 8, I respect Anand testing for years and other people who tested both devices but I have my questions about the review and method. Like other poster asked, I want to know if Anand used formatted facebook and slashdot sites for the review? Also Iphone runs few services at boot time which include email, browser etc so comparing app opening on Iphone with on Pre is not fair in my opinion. But I do say even with recent updates Pre needs lot of tuning.
    I am keeping my iphone though as Pre is not a device for gaming and is far away from getting good collection of apps that I must have before converting. But I am spoiled just as I was with 1st gen Iphone. Even with its shortcomings at start I am keeping Pre.
  • MultiCarrierUser - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Do you think it would be a fair test using sprint's data network vs att? Given the fact that they both claim best and most coverage nation-wide (foot print) I say choose a major city that show's both att and sprint best coverage: San Fran, Dallas, Miami? I agree major update coming in Aug. Will the iphone 3gs be able to run tv? why do you think apple choose to not give iphone a non-removable battery, is it a money game that cost the customer's in the end and how do you go about replacing your battery if its bad and is there phone protection plan?

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