iPhone 5 Speed Test

Our iPhone 5 speed tests show that it is demonstratably faster. Yes, the iPhone 5 upgraded dual-core A6 processor makes it the fastest iOS device ever and quite possibly the fastest phone in existence. 

But on a mobile device, there’s another place where speed matters: cellular data. And the iPhone 5 can now connect to 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) cellular networks, and DC-HSDPA 3G networking.  We’ve tested out iPhone 4G LTE in the United States and 3G in the United Kingdom (while we wait for hte 4G network to be turned on).

Here are the results of our comprehensive iPhone 5 speed test.

Let’s start with the processor. In almost every test we performed, the iPhone 5 ran laps around all previous iPhones and iPads.

Its Geekbench test score was more than twice as high as the closest competitors, the iPad 2 and the third-generation iPad. It loaded a webpage in three-quarters of the time of the iPhone 4S and third-generation iPad. And it completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in 64 percent of the time it took the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. Graphics performance was just as impressive, including 2x improvement in frame rates over the iPhone 4S. And the WebVizBench HTML 5 test found the iPhone 5 three times as fast as the 4S.

Speed demons: iOS devices compared 

 

GeekBench

Page Load

Sunspider

GLBenchmark

WebVizBench

iPhone 5

1623

8.2

0.92

147.3

3.6

iPhone 4S

630

10.7

1.77

72.7

1.2

iPhone 4

390

12.1

2.97

11

0.7

iPad (3rd gen)

759

10.4

1.43

125

2.1

iPad 2

760

11.1

1.44

86.7

1.8

Best results in bold. Larger numbers are better for GeekBench, GLBenchmark (Egypt Offscreen), and WebVizBench. Smaller numbers are better for Page Load and Sunspider.—Lab testing by James Galbraith

In person? It's pretty much the same story. The iPhone 5’s speed boost is most noticeable on more processor-intensive apps such as games, but apps open almost immediately and there’s no waiting when switching between interface elements. Suffice it to say it’s fast.

iPhone 5 Battery Test

Apple claims the iPhone 5’s battery life is roughly comparable to that of the iPhone 4S, and in my use I found that was roughly the case. Our lab tests of the phone playing a movie in Airplane Mode suggest that its battery life under those conditions is slightly less than the previous model. In a workday of using LTE during my public-transit commute and Wi-Fi at the office, the battery seemed to drain much the same as the battery on my iPhone 4S.

If you were hoping that Apple's latest phone would dramatically improve the battery life of the iPhone, this won't be good news. Clearly Apple has a target amount of battery life for its devices that it thinks is reasonable, and beyond that it will seemingly always opt for smaller, thinner devices over packing in a humongous battery. (Apple doesn't seem interested in releasing an iPhone Maxx, if you get my drift.) If your life demands a battery that can go a day and a half of hard usage without a charge, you'll either need to invest in a battery pack or buy a different brand of phone.

iPhone 5 4G LTE Speed Test

Then there’s the LTE networking, or rather not if you live in the UK. We got our first taste of LTE networking earlier this year at a Verizon Wi-Fi access point, and then later got to test an LTE-enabled third-generation iPad in the US. In both cases, we were often able to get a faster connection via LTE than on the office Wi-Fi network. 

In the best situations, LTE speeds make you feel you’re on a Wi-Fi network even when you’re not.

As with anything cellular, your LTE mileage may vary. In the Macworld offices in downtown San Francisco, we were able to measure download speeds of 20Mbps on AT&T and 23Mbps on Verizon. Upload speeds were 17Mbps (AT&T) and 14MBps (Verizon). Compare this to the 4Mbps downloads and 0.3MBps uploads I saw on AT&T’s older GSM network. Downloads that are five times faster? Not bad.

How’s that stack up to the UK. On the iPhone 5 with the DC-HSDPA network we managed to get a 13MB download connection with regular download speeds between 7 and 10MBs and between 2 and 5 MBPs upload. All on the Three network.

iPhone 5 4G LTE Speed Test

So LTE is clearly faster, but the UK’s 3G network is pretty comprehensive and fast when you get it in the right area.

LTE coverage in the UK is currently non-existant, although new network EE (Everything Everywhere) will be announcing details of its launch and data plan “in the next few weeks”. And most other networks will be setting up 4G networks next year.

It’s worth bearing in mind that LTE coverage can be spotty in the United States. Verizon’s got the largest LTE coverage in the U.S., though AT&T is rolling out its network rapidly. (Sprint is even further behind.) In San Francisco, I was able to get LTE from both carriers, though outside the city the coverage fell back to older connections pretty quickly. The same is almost certainly likely to happen in the UK when 4G initially launches.