Roundup: 5 Smart Phones for Summer

Internet Browsing Compared

The first important thing to note about Web browsing is that the Samsung Instinct S30, the Samsung Impression, and the LG enV Touch are not WiFi compatible devices. They each have service plans with at least 3G download speeds, but for users with poor local coverage who wish to continue using their phones over WiFi networks, this oversight is important to know about.

We tested each phone on three different Websites to see how they would perform in general data uploading. Tomsguide.com is a rich, non-mobile site that has many details and typically is the type of site mobile users have avoided because of its complexity. The NYTimes.com mobile-specific site is very light, is obviously made for cell phones and other mobile devices, and tests how fast the browser loads content as opposed to how fast the network speed carries data. Finally, MSN.com is an extremely ad-heavy non-mobile site (there is a mobile version but we didn’t test it). The Impression and N97 would not run MSN.com except in mobile mode, even when both phones can be set to display full Web pages.

Each Website was tested both for its first load time and its cached load time. This is because most people who go online using a phone have several sites they go to frequently and each phone loads pages differently the first time compared to after the Web page has been fully cached as cached pages, of course, generally load faster.

The Instinct S30 suffered when loading heavier, non-mobile pages, especially ad-heavy Web pages. More unfortunate was how the N97 struggled to load heavier Web pages, most likely due to the slow processor. The Impression and enV Touch did fairly well, with the Touch loading Tomsguide.com surprisingly fast.

Without a doubt, the Pre has the fastest browser of the tested devices. We included speed tests of all three iPhone models as a base, since no phone should run slower than the original iPhone (running on AT&T’s Edge network). The Pre was faster than the iPhone 3G in all but one test, but it couldn’t load pages faster than the iPhone 3GS. The "New York Times" mobile page is different for the iPhone and other specific smart phone models, and includes images, which slows down load times.

For WiFi networks, the Pre slightly edges out the 3GS, if only by a tiny margin. The N97 again disappoints with slow load times, even compared to the original iPhone, released over two years ago.

The Instinct has the poorest speeds and is also the most difficult to use for Internet browsing because of the poor screen sensitivity and virtual keyboard. In contrast, both the Impression and enV Touch were great for Web browsing, with or without the physical keyboard. The N97 does have the only browser in this roundup capable of displaying Flash content, so ads do appear properly and Youtube videos can be played directly in the browser, but considering how slow it is, we don’t think such functionality is worth getting excited over.

The Pre, which is the fastest of the tested devices and the fasted WiFi handset we’ve ever tested, does fall behind because of the keyboard. We discuss the physical keyboard on the next page, but we really would have liked to see a virtual keyboard as well, even if only for landscape browsing.