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Symbian web browser sluggish?? Javascript to blame

 

While this is by no means an empirical test, I’ve seen mention in a number of places on the web that the main reason for the dismal performance of the Symbian Web browser is the lack of adequate CPU power, I can categorically say that this is a false assumption. I’m currently using a regular old Nokia 5800 here in the US of A and have been having problems loading certain, *full* websites while still maintaining a degree of usability and not wanting to toss my phone against a wall.  Before you people come at me saying “Just use Opera!!!11222!”, the default browser is still the one that comes up everytime I hit a link in any program, email, IM conversation, etc in spite of my having changed the default browser to Opera. That said, I stumbled across a comment the other day that really stuck with me for some reason. In essence it said “Turn off Javascript and the browser is soo much faster!”

 

Well I tried it and by God does it work wonders. The Engadget homepage that would take an age to load and render and would require me to manually stop the loading in order to even use it half-way properly finished loading in a matter of seconds and scrolled magnificently, regardless of the measly 434Mhz processor. Those of you with N8’s or other Symbian powered devices are urged to try this for yourself to see just how big a difference this minute change can make to the general usability of the browser.

 

That said, there are caveats to this, some Javascript-heavy sites may not render with all the flash, bang, whizz etc that may be expected though in my experience the majority remain unchanged. Also, Disqus does not work unless Javascript is turned on (big loss eh!). Let’s hope that the upcoming Web-browser for S^3 devices comes with a damn competitive Java-script rendering engine amongst other things!!

This improved web browser would also have the knock-on effect of improving all WRT based applications and widgets, including the Social and FourSquare apps. Just food for thought.

 

 

NB:

The current browser on my 5800 gets a Sunspider score of  ~130,000 as compared to a Motoral Droid with a score of ~34,000 ms (Higher is worse!) and I from results I’ve seen around the internet, processor speed is nigh on irrelevant in this case.

 

 

So much for “the browser is one of the places where the N8 is definitely bumping up against the raw limits of its “mature” processor” eh. Chances are that with an improved Javascript rendering engine this statement will have to be retracted.


  1. October 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    OMG !!! yes, turning java script off does really work wonders… engadget loads well..

    • Andre
      October 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      🙂 Anytime dude.

      The person you should be thanking is that anonymous Symbian user that made the comment that triggered this article.

      I noted MASSIVE improvements in usability.

      • jaydee_9804
        October 21, 2010 at 2:35 am

        Thanx Andre… I believe that would be my tip then on the dailymobile forum i posted a couple of days ago.. i alternate between techblogs daily, nite n day including this one. But mynokiablog have always been the first site i jump into this past few mths..
        I do appreciate u turn that tip into a post, so that more enthusiast could benefit from it.. great job.. :J

        • Andre
          October 21, 2010 at 2:46 am

          I couldn’t even remember where I’d read it but I did remember the tip…. Thanks a ton dude

          • jaydee_9804
            October 21, 2010 at 6:05 am

            Its also a recommended if u can discipline urself to always clear the cache after every browsing session.. U’ll feel the nimbleness of the browser after the cache is cleared.. =J

          • jaydee_9804
            October 21, 2010 at 6:05 am

            Its also recommended if u can discipline urself to always clear the cache after every browsing session.. U’ll feel the nimbleness of the browser after the cache is cleared.. =J

        • GordonH
          October 21, 2010 at 11:46 am

          Most s60 devices(before symbian ^3) don’t delete cache properly from browser.
          You have to use a file manager(x-plore or Ybrowser) C:>cache> and options delete.
          The cache slowed down the entire S60 phone. I once recovered 50mbs or 3000files from a friends N95 8gb.

  2. Duncan
    October 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Holy crap, the browser is actually usable now, although I still like Opera 10 beta better.

  3. Lars
    October 20, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    just tried it with my n8… incredible!
    Now the question is, what problems do i get without using javascript?

    • alex68
      October 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      You lose the functionalities made by javascript.

      This is not a recent new thing. I have read about it many times already. Really don’t understand why Nokia can’t fix this…

    • Andre
      October 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      Load up a site like Skysports and you’ll see the difference. Also lose the ability to use Disqus

  4. imran
    October 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    i tried this on my e90 and its working too. Really incredible. Am loving it

  5. David
    October 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    It amazes me how its the users that have to correct the mistakes of Nokia & Symbian

    Surly they should have picked up on this 2 years ago and – released a fix or simply letting users know (turn it off)

    • mattwu
      October 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      mac user?

    • David
      October 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      As an update:
      It makes a massive improvement to the speed!

      • David
        October 20, 2010 at 9:14 pm

        Nope – Nokia and Pc users for over 15 years
        1 ipod – which is usless and never used :-p

    • Rant
      October 20, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      I concur.

      Just plain stupid by Nokia a company that helped invent 3G (and LTE) for crying out loud. A company that has connecting in it’s slogan to fail so miserably with a browser.

      There is just no excuse for coming up so late with a new browser. It is a fundamental piece of SW in a phone.
      Eventhough I love Nokia, they just completly F%^% up when it comes to quickly implementing things.

      • raz0rz
        October 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

        Specially when you see they made MicroB on the N900 which is one of the best (if not the best) browser for mobile phones. What a shame.

  6. David
    October 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    It amazes me how its the users that have to correct the mistakes of Nokia & Symbian

  7. Alex
    October 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    good God i can see now… it’s a miracle… oh no it’s just java script turned off. my nokia e51 browser works like it’s on steroids.

  8. chfyfx
    October 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    but i want to use javascript…

    • Andre
      October 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm

      When they actually update the Javascript engine that’s likely 3 years old by this time, then feel free to use it 😛

      • Jeebus
        October 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

        I think so too they haven’t updated the symbian browser webkit engine in ages(just done some UI tweks on it). Hopefully they will fix it in the new browser.

      • Jeebus
        October 20, 2010 at 9:56 pm

        I think so too, they haven’t updated the symbian browser webkit engine in ages(just done some UI tweks on it). Hopefully they will fix it in the new browser.

        • Jim
          October 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm

          the new browser will be based on webkit 2.1

    • jaydee_9804
      October 21, 2010 at 2:56 am

      Normally what I do when I want to read comments on the Engadget site is going to the site with Javascript turned off, select the post that I want to read the comments from, turn On Javascript and then reload the page.. Disqus would then load.. Its really a hassle but thats why we lurve our Nokia devices, right..? =J

  9. Ruin
    October 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    thanks for sharing it…there is a marked improvement in loading the heavy engadget site..hope the new browser does away with all the issues and brings something new and interesting.

  10. alex68
    October 20, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Actually now I remember that I did a study about Javascript many years ago, say at least 6,7 years ago. There were compatibility issues between different Javascript versions and web page designers should be aware of those nonstandard components and use them carefully. For any serious application, Javascript is not a good language option. I believe the problem with Nokia web engine is related to those compatibility issues. The boring thing is Nokia should be aware of it and they can simply make Javascript off as default as many other browsers do, as far as I know.

    My knowledge might be old and I am not working in this field anymore.

    • Andre
      October 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      They is “standard” Javascript and “non-standard” Javascript. Some web-browsers support either one of the standards or one of the many standards or in Android’s case possibly all.

      Unless the web-browser supports the majority of those standards and is good at rendering that script then no matter the CPU, your browser will be slow.

      • alex68
        October 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm

        Agree. The performance problem of Nokia browser has nothing to do with CPU at all.

        By the way, does S60V5 has a configuration for Javascript report, something like that? I see it on N8.

        • Andre
          October 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm

          It can tell you when there are Javascript errors, Nothing else that I can see.

          • alex68
            October 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm

            What is your browser version? Interesting.

  11. Andre
    October 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    alex68 :

    What is your browser version? Interesting.

    NG 7.2.5.2

  12. alex68
    October 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    N8 browser version is NG 7.2.8. No idea what else is improved, except UI part slightly.

    I remember I saw new browser on E7 called something like NokiaBrowser 7.x.x, in stead of BrowserNG.

  13. dpr
    October 21, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I have been using browser on my 5800 with javascript turned off all the time and the speed is not bad.

    • Andre
      October 21, 2010 at 1:30 am

      Makes you wonder why people complain about the lack of CPU power on these devices when it’s obviously not needed.

  14. Jim
    October 21, 2010 at 1:25 am

    new meego UI for tablets appeared. check tips 🙂 maybe someone can make a post about this. 🙂

  15. Anders
    October 21, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I also tried the Sunspider javascript benchmark and the Symbian browser on my N8 wasn’t able to complete the test. Actually, none of my Symbian phones were able to complete the test with the default browser. Below you can find benchmark scores for my phones with different browsers. Interestingly, the best score was obtained by Sony Ericsson Satio (S60 v5) with Opera 10.1 Beta.

    iPhone 3GS Safari – 13684 ms, 13853 ms

    Nokia N8 Browser – no result
    Nokia N8 Opera 10.1 Beta – 15881 ms, 15310 ms

    Nokia N97 Browser – no result
    Nokia N97 Opera 10 – 120999 ms, 121166 ms
    Nokia N97 Opera 10.1 Beta – 16129 ms, 16620 ms
    Nokia N97 Skyfire 1.5 – 19271 ms

    SE Satio Browser – no result
    SE Satio Opera 10 – 81764 ms, 82499 ms
    SE Satio Opera 10.1 Beta – 12080 ms, 12169 ms

    SE Xperia X10 Android 1.6 Browser – 45734 ms, 45612 ms

    SE Xperia X1 WM 6.1 Internet Explorer – no result
    SE Xperia X1 WM 6.1 Opera 10 – 125506 ms, 130235 ms
    SE Xperia X1 WM 6.1 Skyfire 1.5 – 18637 ms, 18465 ms

    • Anders
      October 21, 2010 at 2:28 am

      Add one more:

      iPad Safari – 10251 ms, 10361 ms

  16. rj_45
    October 21, 2010 at 2:13 am

    thnx a lot, now i can rely on s60 browser

  17. Nocare
    October 21, 2010 at 5:21 am

    GOOd tips for n97mini as well

  18. jaydee_9804
    October 21, 2010 at 6:13 am

    To clear the cache, Options – Clear Privacy Data – Cache.. Makes browser more nimble..

  19. eracnid
    October 21, 2010 at 10:22 am

    you can also add video for the same post to show it works 🙂

    • David
      October 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

      Does the browser support Flash 10 ?

  20. linus
    October 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    how do I disable javascrip on the symbian web browser? do I have to disable flash as well and leave it to load images only?

  21. October 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    i made this demonstration video to show it works :

  22. Pincha
    October 22, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Does anyone know when the browser will be updated??

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