Unfortunately, the majority of benchmarks that usually grace our smartphone reviews don’t yet have WP7 ports or analogs, but there are a still a number of comparisons we can make. To start, the browser-based performance metrics give a good picture within the Windows Phone ecosystem, and likewise with WPbench, created by one of our own readers and on the marketplace.

There’s been a lot written about performance on WP7 already - namely that comparative analysis isn’t as big of a deal as it is on other smartphone platforms, but of course this is more the result of two things. First, Microsoft’s careful curation of their new smartphone platform with hardware requirements; second, availability of native and managed code execution environments. For the most part, you can pick up any WP7 device and have very good expectation of UI smoothness, but that’s not to say there aren’t differences, especially as the platform moves from one generation of Snapdragon SoC to the next, and now possibly even a move to ST-E. Benchmarking WP7 (and by analog, Windows 8) will become a big deal very soon, however, and numerous SoC vendors and big names in the PC benchmarking scene are looking to port to these platforms.

This current refresh of WP7 devices continues to be based around exclusively Qualcomm SoCs, and the Lumias are no exception. Both the 710 and 800 are based around Qualcomm’s MSM8255 single core S2 Snapdragon at 1.4 GHz with Adreno 205 graphics at the core and dual channel LPDDR2 memory interfaces. This is a 45nm part we’ve seen and explored numerous times before, and as a refresher includes the HSPA+ 14.4 baseband onboard.

Anyhow, onward to the numbers. First is sunspider, which we’ve been using for a long while and recently changed from 0.9 to 0.9.1 with. As a result, I’ve had to re-run devices since the numbers aren’t directly comparable. WP7.5 brings a much improved javascript engine which gives it a big boost in scores. I’ve managed to hang onto the HTC Surround (1.0 GHz QSD8250) and Anand has the Focus (also 1.0 GHz QSD8250), which we’ve included as well.

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

Browsermark hasn’t changed or forced us to re-run things, so we have comparison numbers that show how much difference there is in the browser department in WP7.5.

BrowserMark

In the synthetics, WP7.5’s new JavaScript engine (Chakra) with JIT brings perf almost up to modern levels and is a step in the right direction, but it’s still behind iOS and Android. Moving to a higher clocked single core probably does make sense for Windows Phone, especially if IE is single threaded at this point.

For system benchmarking on WP7.5 we have WP Bench, which was created by one of our own readers. The benchmark reports a total score in addition to three sub-scores for CPU, memory, and GPU. My only point of comparison, again, is the HTC Surround.

WPBench Comparison
  HTC Surround (1.0 GHz QSD8250) Nokia Lumia 800 (1.4 GHz MSM8255)
Total Score 59.85 91.14
Result Screenshot

 

Browser Performance and Changes

I’ve made a big deal about browsing performance because, for me at least, the stock browser is the one place where performance really must be flawless. OEMs are starting to wake up to the fact that browsing performance makes a huge impact on the overall subjective weighting of a platform’s smoothness, which in turn results in a lot of scrutiny. I’d agree with this assertion as well and toss in a few other things that must be flawless for a platform to feel speedy.

When WP7.5 first started surfacing we took a look at its revamped IE9-based browser which uses Trident 5.0 as opposed to NoDo’s Trident 3.1. Unsurprisingly everything we saw in the emulator applies to the real-world experience with WP7.5 on live devices. Actually things are even a bit better than they were when we played around in the emulator.

 

The Windows Phone team has made clear several times that they aren’t going to build the browser to any tests but instead real-world page rendering accuracy. That said it’s still worthwhile to take a look at the synthetics. Acid 3 now completes and nearly passes (the boxes in top right subtract some points) where it previously scored below 95. Similarly Acid 2 now is almost flawless. Finally, the HTML5test score increases from 130 to 141 on the Lumia 800 and newer WP7.5 builds, which is a slight but still important difference.

Moving away from Trident 3.1 to 5.0 has made a huge difference on faithful page rendering and eliminated nearly all of the annoying edge cases I saw with previous WP7 smartphones. A number of pages I visit daily back when we did those reviews would render but with a few notable errata, these are now gone completely.

In addition, scrolling performance remains just as speedy as it was before (essentially buttery smooth) as the rendering architecture remains largely the same. We now have all three platforms (WP7.5, iOS, and Android 3.x/4.x) rendering the browser page into a texture that can be translated, clipped, and zoomed with GPU operations. It’s clear that this is the right way to do things to keep the browser UI speedy.

The changes to WP7.5’s browser make (for me at least) the single most notable improvement over NoDo and previous iterations. It’s a huge step forwards in rendering, compliance, and UI, and having that browser experience be as close to perfect as possible is tremendously important.

Battery Life and Charging Lumia 800 Software -Nokia Apps and WP7.5 "Mango"
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  • steven75 - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    It combines IM, only missing AIM, GChat, Yahoo--you know, the services people actually use.

    Missing youtube client, missing ability to open PDF files. Are you aware that both Android and iOS can do this stuff out of the box?
    Reply
  • Reflex - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    MSN/Live is the most used chat client in the world, and its not paticularly close. Facebook is likely second by now, and it builds that in as well. Yahoo was right after MSN/Live a few years ago, I don't know where it is today, however MSN and Yahoo interoperate, you can add your Y! contacts directly to your MSN/Live contact list.

    AIM is dying. GChat has a substantial userbase, but its not at the level of others. Thier bases are pretty well covered in that regard.

    Youtube worked out of the box for me. Not sure why you think it dosen't support it. Plus there are tons of third party clients available for free as apps if you don't like the built in player or the custom one that HTC and others ship.

    Adobe Reader is available in the app store, I have it on mine.
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Exactly. Youtube works for me with no extra apps. The Adobe Reader app is free in the marketplace, although I have yet to open a PDF file on the phone. Of course, Office docs can be opened with no problems, which is 99% of what I want to open.

    I'll admit, this is my first smartphone, but I have used my Dad's iPhone, and have played with my sister's Android phone. WP7 is easier to use, and does way more out-of-the-box.
    Reply
  • 465thGTG - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Android can't open PDF files out of the box unless it has an app installed to do so, just like WP7. And MSN and Facebook chat are the two most popular chat services in the world. Finally, it's missing a YouTube client only because Google doesn't permit Microsoft to include one out of the box. It's not a big deal though. Several great YouTube clients are just a couple clicks away in the Marketplace. Reply
  • Thermogenic - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Google wouldn't allow them to do Youtube properly, unfortunately. Reply
  • augustofretes - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    It is a really weak ecosystem, the number of apps may not be 0, but it is low compared to Android and iOS, and more importantly, the quality of the apps is a lot lower.

    I felt WP could catch, perhaps surpass, Android and iOS by now, but I was wrong, iOS is still strong, and Android moved a lot, many WP advantages were eliminated with ICS (and that's its real competition: Android, not iOS).

    I own both a Galaxy S II running ICS (CM9) and an Omnia 7, although WP7 was a lot less uglier than GB, and is objectively good, ICS is really, really good, I no longer miss anything when using the S II instead of my Omnia 7.
    Reply
  • 465thGTG - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Ah how we forget. Android didn't really go anywhere in its first year either. Building a completely new platform takes time. Reply
  • augustofretes - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    The state of the market is completely different, now you can get a modern smartphone with Android or iOS on almost any carrier on almost all countries.Back then the iPhone was only available on a handful of carriers and countries.

    Moreover, by now, Android had Eclair and the Droid, which pushed Android forward, as likeable as the Lumia 800 is, I highly doubt it is or will play the same role as the Droid.

    But will see, hopefully WP will improve and will become a solid third (and hopefully it will stop being one or two hardware generations behind).
    Reply
  • R3MF - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    nice hardware, but as the owner of an N9 i feel i got the whole package, not merely some quality hardware as is the case with the Lumia 800. Reply
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    bigger and 20 g more than the competition with same hardware. I carry my phone in the pocket and hence size and weight matter a lot... Reply

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