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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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The Safari numbers are from OS 3.0 but the app launch times were from the older OS, I just reran both to confirm and I've updated the app launch times.

    Take care,
  • nowayout - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link


    My camera launch time with iphone 3g os 3.0 is 2.6 secs. It might be something with the phone and how full the photos folder is or how many apps you have I dont know. Can anybody confirm and do a test with this?

    I launched the camera app 5 times and took the average, all times were consistent and were about 2.6 secs.
  • nowayout - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    OK, I think I've found the culprit. After the phone was locked for a long time (about 10 min), I've unlocked the phone and went directly to the camera app, the first run took 4.0 secs. Consecutive runs all ended up around 2.6 secs.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I used the same restore image on both iPhones and attempted to launch from a clean restart so nothing was cached. I did notice variation between some runs, I'm guessing background tasks are clouding results. In the final review I will have much more strenuous launch tests that should eliminate these sorts of issues, I just wanted to get a general idea out there quickly of how fast this thing is.

    Take care,
  • solipsism - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thank you for the speed update and kindly response.
  • tomtastic42 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Great look at the speed! As always AnandTech delivers the info I want.
  • ERJ - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Maybe I am a bit daft but I don't see how it is 54% faster...on all the tests but one the new iPhone loads the pages in less then 1/2 time so wouldn't that make it over 100% faster?
  • paragonjr - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    Absolutely correct!

    In terms of cumulative time rendering Web pages tested:

    Reduction in time to 1/2 from any reference point means that speed has increased by a factor of 2 (inverse of time). Increasing speed 100 percent from any reference point is another way of stating that speed has doubled (i.e. increased by a factor of 2).

    With reference point set at 100:
    1 x 100 = 100. Percent change = 0 %
    2 x 100 = 100 + 100 = 200. Percent change = 100 %
    3 x 100 = 100 + 100 + 100 = 300. Percent change = 200 %

    * iPhone 3GS vs iPhone 3G
    Percent time ratio = 108.3 s / 240 s = 0.45125 = 45.1 %
    Percent speed change = inverse of 0.45125 = 2.216 = 121.6 % (faster)

    * iPhone 3GS vs Palm Pre
    Percent time ratio = 108.3 s / 130.6 s = 0.82925 = 82.9 %
    Percent speed change = inverse of 0.82925 = 1.206 = 20.6 % (faster)

    * iPhone 3GS vs T-Mobile G1
    Percent time ratio = 108.3 s / 263.6 s = 0.41085 = 41.1 %
    Percent speed change = inverse of 0.41085 = 2.434 = 143.4 % (faster)
  • Edias - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    You need to correct the performance numbers!
    For the title and table 1:
    iPhone 3GS Performance: 121.6% Faster than the 3G, 20.6% Faster than the Pre;
    For table 2:
    iPhone 3GS vs. 3G Performance Advantage: 14%; 71%; 22%; 39%; 50%.

    It's only mathematics!

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    Thank you so much guys not only for the correction but for the manner in which you presented it. I've updated the tables in the article.

    I agree that "faster" is far too ambiguous of a word. I was thinking "in less time" but that's not the appropriate word to represent such a thing. Thanks again and I apologize for the error.

    Take care,

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