When Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 5, he spoke of dual-core processing, twice as much graphics power, 4G connectivity and a significantly larger screen, all wrapped up in a thinner unibody case. While some of the new technologies found in the iPhone 5 will bring performance improvements, others - such as multi-spectrum mobile broadband and that 4.5in Retina display - will add to the strain placed upon it.

Like everyone else, we were keen to find out just how effect the hardware choices Apple made when designing the iPhone 5 translated in terms of raw performance and battery longevity. Powered by the new A6 processor, the iPhone 5’s performance is pretty darn impressive when compared to the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, third-generation iPad, and the iPad 2.

Starting with GeekBench, the iPhone 5 earned a score of 1623, more than twice as fast as the third generation, A5X-powered iPad; 2.5 times higher than the iPhone 4S with its A5 processor; and more than four times as fast as the iPhone 4 with its A4 processor. In our Wi-Fi Page Load test, the iPhone 5 was 21 percent faster than the third-generation iPad, 23 percent faster than the iPhone 4S, and 32 percent faster than the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 finished the SunSpider 0.9.1 JavaScript test in 0.92 seconds, just 64 percent of the time it took for the the third-generation iPad to run the test, half the time it took the iPhone 4S, and 31 percent of the time it took the iPhone 4.

Graphics were also much better than on older iPhones. Using GLBenchmark, the iPhone 5, with frame rates of 147.3 on the Egypt Offscreen test and 253 frames per second on the Pro Offscreen tests, was a little more than twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 was 17 percent faster than the third generation iPad on the Egypt test and 6 percent faster on the Pro Offscreen test. The iPhone 4 only managed 11 frames per second on the Egypt test and 17 frames per second in the Pro test.

Performance tests show the bespoke A6 processor is the most powerful iPhone CPU to date

In the WebVizBench HTML 5 tests, the new iPhone was 68.5 percent faster than the third-generation iPad, three times faster than the 4S and five times faster than the iPhone 4.

Battery test

Given some of the iPhone 5’s improvements, it was unlikely the new phone’s battery could match, much less exceed, its predecessor’s. In fact, it comes close.

Apple claimed the iPhone 5 would deliver “up to 10 hours” of video playback on a single charge - the same as the 4S. To test this, we ran it through our standard battery test then compared the result to those of the iPhone 4S, and Phone 4. We also compared it to the third-generation iPad and iPad 2.

We updated the older devices to iOS 6, took a luminance meter and set the screens of each device to 200 nits. We turned off Auto-Brightness and put each iDevice into Airplane mode. Lastly, we set the volume two clicks up from its lowest setting. With the same 120-minute video playing at fullscreen on repeat, we timed each device to see how long it took to drain the battery and power off.

Simply put, the iPhone 5 did not last as long as the iPhone 4S or 4. It lasted 8 hours and 21 minutes - about 6 percent less than the iPhone 4S and about 4 percent less than the iPhone 4. Compared to the two current iPads (which have much bigger batteries), the iPhone 5 lasted 27.5 percent less time than the iPad 2 and 17 percent less than the third generation iPad.

iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPad 3

Best results in are shown in bold. Larger numbers are better in all tests but Wi-Fi Page Load and SunSpider. GeekBench and GLBench scores are from iOS benchmarking apps. GLBench scores are in frames per second. Sunspider is a web-based JavaScript test, with results reported in seconds. All devices tested running iOS 6. iPad battery is larger and more powerful than that of iPhones.

See also

- iPhone 5 review - after 11 months of use how do we rate the iPhone 5