BlackBerry PlayBook vs. Apple iPad 2 Web Browser Comparison

By Kevin Michaluk on 14 Apr 2011 12:46 pm EDT
[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the videos I put together for our BlackBerry PlayBook Review was a head to head web browser comparison of the BlackBerry PlayBook vs. Apple's iPad 2. As you'll see in the video, the PlayBook holds up pretty well against the iPad 2. The BlackBerry PlayBook of course supports Adobe flash, which means you can visit a whole of websites and do a whole lot more things on the PlayBook's web browser that you simply cannot do on the iPad. Within websites like Facebook, on the PlayBook you can play videos from within your updates stream, use Facebook chat and even play Farmville. The 7" display can make things a little tight depending exactly what you're doing, but for the most part you can access and use the full internet. Also worth noting is that the PlayBook will ship supporting Flash 10.2 vs. the 10.1 version RIM initially announced on the device. The first software build on my review unit still showed flash at 10.1, but an OS upgrade brought with it 10.2. Good stuff.

The downside of flash support is that it does add a little bit of page load time to websites that might not use flash in their content, but make use of it in their advertisements. I found quite a few sites where the iPad 2 would beat out the PlayBook's page load time by a few seconds, but if we then disabled Flash and did the test again (with cache cleared of course) the PlayBook would be equally quick and in some cases faster. I also have compared my PlayBook to my old iPad classic, and the PlayBook tends to beat the original iPad pretty consistently. With pages fully loaded, I find the experience to be a bit smoother still (panning, zooming, etc.) on the iPad 2, but it's pretty darn solid on the PlayBook as well.

All in all, it's definitely the best web browser on a BlackBerry device to date, and I think it's just going to keep getting better. Check out the video above!

Reader comments

BlackBerry PlayBook vs. Apple iPad 2 Web Browser Comparison


I am just curious why you would disable Flash. All everyone has been harping about is "how the Playbook has full web browsing with Flash."

It seems hypocritical to disable a feature on the browser to try to speed it up, if that feature has been a key reason to buy this device. If it has a slower browser say that and then say it can browse the web like a typical PC - that's the tradeoff.

In my opinion, this is not looking so good.

There would actually be content the PlayBook is downloading that the iPad2 would not, so there not really apples to apples testing.

Exactly, what's the point of doing a comparison if what you're comparing are "running different races". i.e. Saying that the 200m runner didn't finish as quickly as the 100m racer.

Haha about the 200M vs 100M. Seems to me there was this whole 150M standoff between Johnson and Bailey. And we all know what happened there XD

But anyway, interesting shootout. Flash no doubt puts some overhead into loading the page, any Webmaster could tell you that. The great part I'm seeing about the PB is you don't get directed to the mobile sites. Man do I hate mobile sites.

Would be nice to see a 'quick on/off' on the main browser bar for Flash. Would be cool to get even more granular and when you bookmark a site, specify if you want flash enabled or disabled when going there. Take the CNN page for example. Flash is only used to display ADS right? I don't need my browser displaying that, not important. I'll kill Flash and keep the overhead down. Now if I always went to ADIDAS, then of course I would want flash enabled.

I absolutely understand there is a difference! It just seems to me the point of buying the Playbook is because you want a Flash enabled browser. So who cares what it can do without Flash?

If I wanted webpages without Flash, I wouldn't waste my time with the Playbook - I would just get the iPad 2.

Exactly. For an Apples to Apples comparison, I wanted to remove that variable since we were visiting the same sites on both devices. The PlayBook also often brings up FULL websites where other tablets bring up lesser versions of sites... so I wouldn't put those head to head either for a speed test.   In everyday use you'll probably leave flash enabled, and you won't care about the lag of a few seconds of extra loading time (besides, with the PlayBook's multitasking ease I find myself jumping into other apps for a few seconds to do something else while a browser page is loading and then jumping back).  All in all, I think it's looking pretty good.

"We're #1!"

Nicely done! The haters are gonna jump on you for that though....

"Kevin is so unprofessional.....bla bla bla..."

Keep up the good work!

Thats all it is, haters gonna hate while players gonna "PLAY" on their "PLAYBOOKS". I'm so excited and can hardly wait for Tuesday! It will get even better with every update and with the release of every quality app! PlayBook #1

The PB is pretty impressive when you consider that Apple has been perfecting essentially the same web browser since the iphone 1. At best this is "version 2" of the webkit browser for BB.

I wonder if the speed difference can be attributed to less compatibility from the iOS side? When you think of it, if the html5 score is that low compared to playbook, could it be that iOS is not properly handling the HTML in general. Which would explain the slight speed advantage. PlayBook browser would be executing more code to properly follow the standards, where as iPad would shortcut or even leave out some. They're both built on webkit afterall.

There is review done by Anandtech that i think addresses the issue in my perspective. Playbook wifi is a bit slower than the other IOs tablets. He did some in depth tests in his review. The main connection right now to the WEB is through wifi, so i am thinking if data packets are coming in slower than the other tablets, the issue might not be Playbook's WEB loading ability, but rather it wifi. which may be able to be resolve using software update.

It does look pretty good and for blackberry users who have to wait 3 hours to load a page on their phones, this is freaking awsome, but for some reason i dont see, iphone, android or other phones users buying a playbook...Lets see i hope im wrong been a Bold 9700 user and fan...

I like the comparison and we also have to acknowledge that its a second generation iPad against RIM's first tablet. I'm pretty sure Apple did some adjustments from iPad to iPad2. Not sure if Kevin has access to a first generation iPad and compare RIM's PlayBook.

I'm curious who will be the 1rst to make a tablet able to call. This 7 inch would be perfect for a lot of people to carry in a purse & use bluetooth for phone calls

The problem is even the 1st gen Ipad, was way more polished than the playbook. User experience counts, they should have waited longer, or focus more on performance as opposed to features like flash, etc. It looks like storm 1 and the Tour all over again: great idea - poor execution.

why the emphasis on the SECOND? it is irrelevant what version it is. a true comparison to say on April 14, 2011, the then current generally available devices did x,y,z in a comparison.

otherwise if i build a car tomorrow and bake it off against ford i could say my version 1 is better than ford's version 76 or whatever release they are on. it also makes no sense to compare v1.0 of playbook to version 1.0 of ipad. Again using my analogy my new car should be then compared to ford's first model-T from 100 years ago?!?!?

Can anyone address that BGR found that if you have multiple tabs/browser windows open, the browser reloads once a tab/window selected, that's deal killer for me. I have to use multiple windows all the time and can't wait for them to reload on 3G network.

this does NOT happen. BGR is beyond biased in their reporting. They are huge apple fans. Take everything that they said with a grain of salt. If its not apple, they aren't interested.

So i went to the website from my torch and i got a score of 240 plus 3 bonus points. So my torch beat the ipad 2, yessss!!! lol

What would be nice is an option to do a "click to play"! I use Google's Chrome browser and one of the advance features is the ability to never load any plugin! If the web page does require a plugin then it render a gray box the same size as the flash ad or player and has "Click to Play" written in it. I never have to load anything that I don't want to. If a site has flash and I want to see it then I click on that gray square and only that element loads. No wasting time downloading flash content I don't care to see plus its secure so it does not load by default saving me time and creating security!

I will be waiting for awhile before I get a PB so the apps can catch up. (Hoping Autodesk puts their AutoCAD WS app on PB)

Interesting note : My torch's web browser gets 233 points plus one bonus point on the html5 test website.

Just run the html5 test on my bold 9700 running os6 and got scored 240 plus 3 bonus points. Scores more than the ipad 2.

This review did it for me , going for an iPad 2 instead of the Playbook. The overall experience seems far more enjoyable and that's all I'm really looking from my first tablet. Even without flash.

I'm still very concerned about the form factor....seriously considering the iPad 2 as well instead, as much as I LOVE BB. I need something to replace my dying laptop and I browse a lot! Also concerned about the small virtual keyboard that takes up so much screen space as compared to the iPad 2. Eeeeeks.....

Even if the pb might lag some, its nothing more than a few software updates and it should be good to go. And one thing to not forget, this will be the first tablet by Rim while Apple have had its predecessor aka the ipad on the market for a long time. And ofc people would slam it OFC comparing to the ipad.

EITHER u buy it or NOT.