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A Primer on Android 4.0 Tablets

A Primer on Android 4.0 Tablets



Performance Benchmarks

Can Ice Cream Sandwich Withstand the Heat from the Competition? 

As Android 4.0 is a new OS for Android tablets, we feel that consumers are interested to know if it offers substantial performance gains. Since we were unable to get valid scores in the Quadrant and Smartbench 2011 benchmarks in our review of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime (with Android 3.2), they will be not be part of the performance comparison below. The following benchmark and battery performance test were carried out: 

  • SunSpider Javascript benchmark measures the browsing performance of the tablet.
     
  • Battery Performance: looping a 720p video with screen brightness (without enabling Super IPS+ mode) and volume at 100%, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on and constant data streaming through email and Twitter. 

Note: We used the Performance Mode (previously known as Normal Mode on Android 3.2) for the two benchmarks above. For an explanation of the different power profiles on the Transformer Prime, click here.

How the Tablets Stack up
Device ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime  (Android 4.0) ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime (Android 3.2) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Apple iPad 2
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core 1GHz
GPU  12-core GeForce  12-core GeForce ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX 543MP2
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB 512MB
OS Google Android 4.0.3 Google Android 3.2 Google Android 3.2 Apple iOS 4.3

  

Our results did match up to what Google offered in its Android Developer page, with our 1948.8ms score that's somewhat identical to Google's 1963ms. What did come as a surprise to us, is the lower Sunspider score we got out of the Android 3.2 Transformer Prime. Unfortunately, we aren't able to provide you with any concrete reasons or explanations for these numbers.

Fortunately, though the numbers for its Android 4.0 variant is slightly higher than the Honeycomb version, the Transformer Prime's Sunspider result is still lower than its competitors, namely the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2. The browser experience during our time with the Android 4.0.3-powered Transformer Prime proved to be much better than its Android 3.2 variant. There were noticeable speed improvements and the overall user experience was evidently better. 

The overall performance of ICS on the Transformer Prime is an improvement from the Honeycomb tablets we have reviewed in 2011. Almost everything is snappier such as the home screen transitions and animations. We encountered no lags or system crashes even when we had multiple apps running in the background. Swiping to quit apps and remove notifications felt effortless as well. 

 

Battery Performance 

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime (with Android 3.2) came in at a close second to the Apple iPad 2 with its battery life of seven hours and thirteen minutes. With Android 4.0 on board, we ran it through our battery test once more to see if there is any positive or negative impact on its battery performance.

For those who are unfamiliar with our battery test, here's the list of test conditions we put each tablet through: 

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100% (without Super IPS+ mode)
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter. 

Note: We used the Performance Mode (previously known as Normal Mode on Android 3.2) for the two benchmarks. For an explanation of the different power profiles on the Transformer Prime, click here.

Test Tablets Compared

Specifications/Device

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1  Apple iPad 2
Processor
  • Quad-core 1.3GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 10.1-inch
  • 10.1-inch
  • 9.7-inch
Display Type
  • LED-backlit IPS-LCD
  • TFT-LCD
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT
Display Resolution
  • 1280 x 800 pixels
  • 1024 x 600 pixels
  • 1024 x 768 pixels 
Dimensions
  • 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm
  • 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6mm
  • 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm
Weight
  • 586g
  • 565g
  • 613g

 

Considering that a slight dive of eight minutes in the battery performance is insignificant, we can conclude that Android 4.0 has no impact on the battery life of the device. We also found no differences in the battery longevity during our day to day usage of the Android 4.0-powered Transformer Prime.

However, do take note that our battery test simulates fairly intensive usage conditions. Hence you can squeeze out more battery juice from the device under normal usage conditions such as occasional web surfing, reading and some multimedia streaming. As usual, actual battery life varies according to different usage conditions, therefore your mileage may vary.