How long does it take for your smartphone to register your poking? You might not even be aware that such a measurement exists or that there is much of a difference between the various smartphones that you’ve tapped and prodded over the years.
Spoiler: There is.
At least, that’s according to the latest figures from the app and game streaming platform Agawi, which also uses its technology to virtualize the aforementioned smartphone software for cross-platform compatibility (mainly in an advertising sense). According to the company’s new TouchMarks benchmark, Apple’s iPhone 5 wins the day with its measured response time of 55 milliseconds – give or take an error rate of approximately four milliseconds.
The next fastest phone on Agawi’s list is yet another Apple device: The good ol’ iPhone 4 at 85 milliseconds. Android-powered devices don’t appear until third place, and it’s the Samsung Galaxy S4 at a response time of 114 milliseconds that takes top platform honors — for those keeping score, that’s just about double the response time of the iPhone 5.
“Since touchscreen hardware has significant latency itself, our best guess at Agawi is that Apple’s touchscreen hardware is better optimized or more sensitively calibrated for capturing and processing touch. Another possibility is that while the Android and WP8 code are running on runtimes (Dalvik and CLR respectively), the iPhone code is written in closer-to-the-metal Objective-C, which may reduce some latency,” reads Agawi’s blog post.
Of course, commenters are already taking to Agawi’s findings to blast the company over the real-world applicability of its findings. Namely: Whether this kind of a difference is even perceptible to the average smartphone user.
To see the real-world effect of smartphone latency first-hand — pardon the pun — we turn to Microsoft, of all people. A video authored by Microsoft researchers and published to YouTube last year showcases the effect of different amounts of latency on one’s simple finger-scrolling on a tablet-like device. It’s not quite apples-to-apples against Agawi’s tests, but it provides a good example of just what latency can look like on a touch-responsive panel.
Agawi plans to release its benchmark software – and a guide for running it – as well as a system by which users will be able to conduct their own independent smartphone tests and upload them to a common database. It’ll be interesting to see how the company’s findings stand the test of time. As well, how the plethora of other smartphones on the market fare with input latency… including Apple’s latest smartphones.