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 - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    The only reason I didn't include the Storm? I don't have one :) I was a blackberry user long before the iPhone, there's a special place in my heart for them - although I think I still do favor the older blackberries thanks to their larger keyboards. I loved typing on them.

    Take care,
  • Cacolaco - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    That's a pretty good reason...

    Yeah, typing seems to a love it or hate it thing with the Storm. I love the Storm's typing, and it is more responsive than when it launched, but I don't think anything compares to a physical keyboard.

    I think somebody should definitely whisper in RIM's ear to get you an updated Storm for a review!
  • sieistganzfett - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    You're kidding right?? I have a storm... You want a comparision? ok.. first off there is no WIFI, so no point in results there since storm 1 doesn't have wifi.

    v4.7.0.148 (Platform opening different progs.. (I run the appleberry theme since it's more responsive than the storm's default theme)
    Web Browser... 6 sec
    Dialer......... 2 sec
    Google maps.... 2 sec
    Camera......... 4 sec
    to take a pic with max resolution. etc. with camera... no comparison... by the time it takes a pic, what ever i was taking one of is long GONE! it takes about 3-7 sec on a GOOD DAY.. lowering resolution, etc. makes this marginally better. for it to SAVE the pic, it takes about 8 sec.
    Email.......... 0.8sec

    Conclusion: the phone still locks up on heavy use of email/phone, or just turns off since it can't handle heavy use... this is a hardware problem on my phone since there are some other storms that do not experience this. the new OS is faster than the original, .75 however, this is NO iphone, so don't expect it to work consistently like one. :p
  • Cacolaco - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    I'd say the problem that is cropping up here for the Storm is inconsistency, then, because your times for opening those apps are longer than what I've experienced across the board, with the exception of Google Maps, which your phone seems to do well with.

    I have been very happy with the camera on my phone. It runs circles around my wife's Flipshot, as far as responsiveness and image quality are concerned. I've had no problems with shutter delay on the highest settings (as with many cameras, the responsiveness is much better when you press half way to let the autofocus work), although video recording doesn't always stop recording as responsively as I'd like.

    My web browser, and dialer launch within no more than 1 second, and the camera is ready to go within 1.5 to 2 seconds.

    I should note that I am using the default theme.

    I'm not trying to disclaim your numbers - I'm legitimately concerned about the fact that the Storm seems to display such a difference in application performance from phone to phone, as I personally know 2 people who aren't happy with their Storm.

    And wi-fi being absent shouldn't exclude the storm. People have made such a big deal about this... Where was mms on the iPhone, or video, or flash for the camera (kudos to Apple for adding some of these, btw)? These things might not be important to you, but they are to me, much more so than wi-fi. Each of these phonse have their advantages and disadvantages, and for many, Wi-fi is no more vital than options missing on other phones.

    Based on my personal experience, it is a shame that the Storm doesn't get a fair chance. (and to those who would quote sales numbers, they really have no place in a hardware/software performance comparison)

  • sieistganzfett - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    let's trade! :)
  • witinnovation09 - Thursday, January 28, 2010 - link

    The iPhone 3GS uses an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600MHz, faster than its older versions. This processor brings a good speed in your routine works. For instance, in an experiment with new 3GS, web pages render 128% faster than old iPhones; the clock speed boost was 45% and over all performance of 3GS found mimics to the Palm Pre. The basic application load time found ranges in between the 14 to 72% faster than the other Phones.
    Iphone application development
  • omnivector - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    The reason for that is pretty simple -- the Blackberry Storm is more or less a failure.
  • AJRobins - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't call it a failure.

    However, the Storm is certainly lagging behind in sales. IIRC, the Storm sold around 500,000 units in the first month. The iPhone 3GS is estimated to sell around 500,000-750,000 units in the first weekend.
  • Tegeril - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    I'd call it a failure.
  • iPhoneSucks - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    Flawed Comparison.

    No Nokia Phone! atleast you could include 5800XM / N97

    Why there is no COST aspect (i mean both cost of ownership initially and over a period of contract)

    just comparing speed and declaring it as a winner is such a low tech

    well done Anand. keep it up. That's what i expect from an Indian

    yeah, i am an indian too.

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