Performance

With Honeycomb, Google enabled full GPU acceleration across the OS. As a result, I had hoped that we’d have a very Windows Phone 7 like experience in Android 3.0. For the most part, it’s similarly smooth, but it’s still not quite perfect.

Performance in Honeycomb seems even more dependent on background apps than with earlier versions of Android. I’m not sure if that’s because Honeycomb is less aggressive about kicking processes out of memory or if I’m simply doing more with the OS on a larger screen, but I found myself killing tasks manually more frequently in Honeycomb than I did on Froyo. It’s also possible that with faster hardware and a faster OS that any slowdown, even if only minor, is more perceptible.

Swiping between home screens is butter smooth under Honeycomb, as is interacting with widgets and notifications. Applications launch quickly and scrolling in them is smoother than any other Android release. Even scrolling in the browser is finally smooth on Android, although I don’t believe it’s quite up to par with iOS/WP7. Granted Honeycomb doesn’t support Flash yet so it’s too early to tell how Flash integration will change the browsing experience, but I wonder if the delay on integrating flash has to do with ensuring that browser scrolling performance isn’t hurt.

As we saw with the Atrix 4G, performance benchmarks may be slower on the Xoom due to its higher native resolution (1280 x 800) than the competitors. This is particularly evident in the 3D gaming tests. I almost wonder if we'll begin seeing higher performing SoCs in tablets going forward, with lighter hardware being used in smartphones. It's clear that these smartphone SoCs, while fine for lower res smartphones, don't have the compute horsepower or memory bandwidth to cope with higher resolution displays.

I'm also not entirely sure what's going on in the Quadrant results as there are some significant drops in performance on the Xoom vs. Atrix. This could be a Honeycomb thing or an issue with the benchmark itself.

Linpack

GLBenchmark 2.0 - Egypt

GLBenchmark 2.0 - PRO

Quadrant Benchmark

Quadrant CPU Benchmark

Quadrant Memory Benchmark

Quadrant I/O Benchmark

Quadrant 2D Benchmark

Quadrant 3D Benchmark

BaseMark GUI Benchmark - Animation

BaseMark GUI Benchmark - Texture IO

BaseMark GUI Benchmark - Composition

BaseMark GUI Benchmark - Rendering Order

Camera Quality Wireless Performance: Cellular & WiFi
POST A COMMENT

112 Comments

View All Comments

  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    anand writes... "I suspect the ideal tablet UI is probably not too far off what modern desktop OSes have become. While a smartphone’s UI must be dramatically different due to the lack of screen real estate, a tablet UI just needs to be more efficient than its desktop counterpart - not necessarily very different."

    this is an interesting thought, and I am wondering if you are considering the, potentially, drastically different usage models that tablets need to be built for.
    not only will people be using these things on the run, but the ways I see people using them now are really different from desktops.
    tablets really lend themselves to task integration, where you have a specific reason to use it over and over.
    for example, I have seen the subway/train information officers using them here in Japan to give people directions, and I see store clerks using them to implement inventory management software.

    that kind of usage demands quick access to a limited number of functions and a low level of file maintenance.
    If anything, I would have guessed it the other-way around, where tablets will need to be closer to a smartphone OS, but adjusted for the larger screen real estate.
    Reply
  • mlambert890 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    100% spot on. This is where the enthusiast niche that follows forums, and the reviewers and bloggers that server them, can't seem to "get it"

    For tech geeks, a slightly tweaked desktop metaphor is what they want from a tablet (for the ones that even want one at all). For the vast majority of the target audience, this absolutely misses the mark which is why iOS on iPad, despite all of the nerd rage towards it, has done so well.

    I'm as geek as geek gets with 20+ years in this industry, but these days as an old guy, I am also a mobile professional. On the road, which is all the time, for work, i need exactly what you describe. Quick, efficient, task focused access.

    I'm not geeking out at a Starbucks or doing proofs of concept (WoW on emu on Android on Xoom!!!) for YouTube. I'm doing email, note taking, Webex and reading/presenting on the go.

    If google inches towards a tweaked desktop UX paradigm they will be making the same mistake MSFT did (and continues to) with their tablet efforts.

    The hardcore tech crowd might be happy, but they are a micro percentage of this market.
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Did you miss the part of the review where Honeycomb was better in all of those areas? Or did you just focus on a quote taken out of context which compares this OS to a desktop OS?

    Never mind, I already know the answer.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • ccrobopid - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I was waiting for your review of the Xoom. Goog job on your part, but I must say I'm a little disappointed with the hardware. On a tablet the screen quality sure is one of the most important elements, and at this price point I don't think I'll buy it. I also don't get the 16:10 aspect. Widescreen had sense in BIG screens because we have more degrees of vision sidewards, but at this screen size I prefer a 4:3 format because I feel it's more useful for web browsing, reading and apps in general. Reply
  • ccrobopid - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Complementing my post, if it wasn't for the too boxed experience, I still feel like iPad is the device to have. Let's see if iPad2 launches and throws away some of that "boxeness" :D Reply
  • macs - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Honeycomb needs:
    - an update to solve the youth problems
    - great screen (at least as good as iPad)
    - 16gb and wifi only for 499$

    Apple needs:
    - to catch up Honeycomb on software side (multitasking,browser,... I don't think that an iPad 2 still running iOS 4.x would be enough...)
    - faster SoC (A5 dual core)
    - Facetime Camera
    - Video Out
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I have a great idea. Let's all go spend $800 (+ $50 in tax) to have a tablet that crashes constantly and cant be viewed outside. Crackhead. Reply
  • Mr Alpha - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I would really like to see minimum brightness numbers. The ability to turn the back-light way down is important in order to avoid a headache when reading something in a low light situation. The iPad for example has a too high minimum brightness. Reply
  • josephandrews222 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    ...you wrote this:

    "Things like this combined with the instability I mentioned earlier makes me feel like Honeycomb was a bit rushed, perhaps to hit the streets before one other major tablet announcement coming this year?"

    ...you referring to the iPad2 or HP's 'Pad'?

    I really enjoyed this review. A lot. Thanks.
    Reply
  • Jinded - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    On the Multitasking page, you mention the following about widgets:
    "In Gingerbread and prior version of Android, widgets were fairly constrained and two dimensional. You could display information within the widget but there was no depth and no concept of scrolling."

    I don't think this is quite true, as several launchers (like LauncherPro) support vertically scrolling widgets. I myself use Agenda Widget as a scrollable 1x4 calendar widget. The Samsung TouchWiz interface (and I'm sure others as well) also comes with several widgets set up rolodex-style, displaying maybe the last 10 or so notifications/pictures/events that can be scrolled using up/down buttons. Not quite the same thing as a scrollable widget, but I think it counts as having depth.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now