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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  • mack123 - Saturday, July 18, 2009 - link"> what is the difference between 3G and the 3GS? nad am i able to yous this phone with my GSM service provider(AT&T)?
  • DeepBlue1975 - Wednesday, July 1, 2009 - link

    To see performance figures on the HTC pro 2 as soon as you can get one.
    I'll be skipping the Nokia n97 because its keyboard is bashed in many reviews, and because I'm a bit tired of symbian and like WM better...
    And I'll obviously skip the iphone 3gs because it has no keyboard whatsoever!! does it have copy&paste functionality built in already, or do you still need to get an add on for that in this one, too?
  • MrBowmore - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    You have seriously screwed up when it comes to the G1. Your times makes it feel that you have been payed alot to get theese figures, something tells me, you just had a bad build, or something.

    Try the new my touch(magic for Europe, same hardware as G1), with the 1.5 "cupcake" it's almost as fast as the 3gs according to your figures. Have you tried different access points?
  • crispbp04 - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    My touch HD takes a dump on all these phones.
  • aredee - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    Dear Anand,

    I am holding a 3GS and a 3G (upgraded to iphone os 3.0), however to me, the 3GS does not seem to have such a huge difference in loading times as you have documented in this article.

    Loading the page only took 11.2 seconds on my 3G. Have you cleared out the cache/history/cookies before running your test?
  • natenrb9 - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    If you throw out the (statistical outlier) the advantage of the 3gs over the pre is only 11%.

    Really this set of data is not a very conclusive test, the pre was actually faster loading 3 of the 9 websites. You really need to compare quite a few more sites to get viably accurate performance % advantage.
  • katrinak - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    before going for a e72, u might want to have a look here..">
  • vwongd20 - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    I own a g1... and the time I got are way different from your tests
    Do the g1 or pre have any programs running in the background?
    I understand that the iphone does not handle multitasking... In other words, once you close the yahoo app, it logs you off... which is rather pointless to use im at all imho

  • Ehsan - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Hi Anand,
    I am sorry to ask but am bit curious did you use non formated sites for facebook & Slashdot because of too much discrepency of my Iphone 3GS and your numbers of it.
    Also I was wondering if you can do a app launching test on Iphone 3GS with a 3rd party app as most of the native apps run services in background (I found this by installing backgrounder app from Cydia after jailbreak on 3G and found that many native apps were running in background already). So its not launching from standstill if its half running.
  • MultiCarrierUser - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    wow, you're telling me that majority of the " native apps" are already running? that's why it appears to pull up different apps quickly, already running a certain percentage per app (native). I think that is a good question as well.

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