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Nokia Lumia 928 lags far behind the iPhone 5 in new screen latency test

When it comes to smartphones, screen response time is one of those key features that helps ensure a great user experience. Some of you may recall the use of resistive touch panels on smartphones years ago and how slow those were to respond to touch. Capacitive displays are certainly much quicker, and it’s the reason why touch-typing is so common today, having been accepted by the masses.

The question for one company though is how to measure that display latency i.e. the time it takes for the system to detect and register a touch, thereby launching an app. App streaming company Agawi has come up with a solution called TouchMarks to make accurate and quantifiable measurements in this area and the Lumia 928, while not the worst, is far behind Apple.

Devices compared include the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, Galaxy S4, HTC One and Moto X in addition to the only Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 928 found on Verizon. From the write up:

“As you can see, the results are remarkable. At a MART of 55ms, The iPhone 5 is twice as responsive as any Android or WP8 phone tested. All the Android devices’ MARTs fell in the same 110 – 120ms range, with the WP8-based Lumia 928 falling into that bucket as well. (Incidentally, the ranges all span about 16ms, which is expected given the 60 Hz refresh rate of these smartphones. 1/60s = 16.6ms)”

Indeed, the Lumia 928 had a response time of 117 ms whereas the iPhone 4 was at 85 ms and the iPhone 5 was even better with an extraordinary 55 ms response latency. The iPhone 5S, released this past weekend, had yet to be tested.

Why the discrepancy? Agawi has their theory:

“…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. In future TouchMarks, we’ll compare C/C++-based Android apps to Java based apps to determine if this is the case.Regardless of the reasons, the conclusion is clear: the best written apps on iPhones will simply feel more responsive than similar apps on the current gen of Android devices. (We speculate this might be a major reason why the iPhone keyboard generally feels better than the Android keyboard to many people.)”

The results are fascinating, and while we can debate whether or not that extra 50 ms would really make a difference in user experience, it seems Apple has once again bested Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft is aware of this problem though as noted in the above video, where Microsoft Research is working on 'High Performance Touch'.

Agawi has open sourced the hardware and software behind TouchMarks, so people can peek at what they are doing (and try to replicate the results). The company also plans on doing future tests on other devices to see how they stack up, including the new iPhone 5S. We hope those future tests include different Windows Phones too because for all we know, the Lumia 928 is the exception and not the rule. Still, it seems clear that Apple has spent some time considering this area in engineering their phones.

Will these results cause companies like HTC, Nokia or Samsung to reevaluate their approaches to screen calibration? We hope so as this is one important area that manufacturers won’t want to skimp out on.

Source: AppGlimse; via iMore

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Behin"D' ... Dan... :)
  • Bah.  I blame stopped spell checking for som reason, need to reboot :/ Fixed.
  • som"E" Dan :P
  • Don't worry Dan, my fingers seem to be skipping keys a lot lately too...although on my Lumia 925, I detect some latency too. At least when it comes to some 'th' words... =P
  • Impossible to notice anyway, but congrats Apple, your engineers are obviously worth their salary :)
  • I'm not so sure it's impossible to notice. I can type much faster on an iPhone. I used to think it was because the keys are closer together. On other devices I feel as if something slows me down.
  • I feel the same way michail.  I prefer the keyboard of WP, but for some reason, the iphone always feels right.  I don't feel like that on the ipad though.
  • I prefer the big buttons on the keyboard of the iPhone. WP's keyboard is so narrow, it's easier to make mistakes.
  • While at work I read this article.  I own a 928 and I work with people who own a iPhone 5 and a GS4. I've always thought the Windows Phone keyboard was the best, and after today with this article and comparing the phones directly.....I still prefer the Windows Phone keyboard. It was by far more accurate than the 5 and GS4. Not to mention the autocorrect on iOS is by far the most annoying thing when making a mistake. Truth be told I felt my 928 was far more responsiv than both the GS4 and iPhone 5.
  • I couldn't agree more. I too have used both iPhone and WP8, as well as BB10, and I prefer the WP8. The WP virtual keyboard has a more complete function, and is easier to use than either of the others. IMO, the iPhone is the worst keyboard of the three.
  • I agree, after using mu Lumia 920, I am always hitting the wrong keys on the iphone. The screen is just too small
  • If you think you can tell the difference, which is measured in milliseconds, you are either a) not functioning in this dimension, or b) possess something other than a higher primate's brain.   
  • It might be because of the screen size, since I can type quite faster in a 3.5Inch display than a 4.5Inch one. :)
  • Thats bulllshit. You sense these differenses in ping when playing online games on PCs.
  • @stephen_az did you watch the embedded video from Microsoft? 50 milliseconds is easily discernable by the human eye.
  • As a PC gamer, I can sense a lot of tiny ms changes
  • Agreed, just like back in the day I wouldn't use an infrared wireless controller on my super nintendo because of the lag, same for early cordless mice.
    I think the delay is noticeable because often I'm 2 letters ahead of what is displaying on my android than on my iphone. Haven't bought a WP8 device yet, but plan to if the 929 is awesome. I just hate an app size download limit.
  • While I enjoy typing on my iPhone 4, I preffer the experience of typing on my 920 (Autocorrect warns you before kicking in, next-word prediction works awesomely and learns from you). My laptop is not working at the moment and I'm using One Note on 920 for classroom notes! 
  • Don't know if its just me, but I've always thought that iPhones seem very responsive, more so than any other phone. However that's probably more down to the OS than screen latency.
  • Most certainly both.
  • Agreed. Great job by Apple. This! Is why competition is good for us all. Today they raise the bar, tomorrow it will be us. Progress @ its purest. Let's keep keep going forward.
  • +1
  • Yep!
  • It's pretty noticeable for me, and 5s seems to be even faster.
  • A difference of 60ms is definitely noticeable if you've played even semi competitive games. 55ping is much better than 130 ping. This is some interesting engineering by apple.
  • I pulled out my 920 and decided to compare the results on my phone to the results in the Microsoft Reseach video.   I started by hitting the search butten and just sliding my finger back and forth accross the top row of the keyboard.   I compared the lag to the results in the video, and it appeared much closer to the 50ms lag (67 seconds into the video)  than the 100ms (57secs into the video) lag. Then I decided to open up Fresh Paint, and paint some squiggly lines (like in the video).   I still felt the lag was much closer to 50ms than 100ms. 
    I know... completely non-scientific, but what are you guys seeing?
  • Doesn't surprise me at all.  There's always a major delay when in that initial touch and movement on my Lumia 920.  It's pretty annoying.
  • Weird, I didnt notice anything of that sort.
    Everywhere in the OS?
  • It's particularly noticable on drawing apps like Draw Something.  I also notice it a lot on Fragger, where I need to make just a TINY adjustment in throw power or direction.  You have to move your finger a certain distance before it realizes it needs to respond, and then you can make micro adjustments after that.  But that initial move not a short distance and it's a killer sometimes.
  • I put it in the article, but Microsoft demonstrates this exact issue very well in this video:
  • Yes, but I feel like the video covers the second part of a two part problem.  There's initial response time and continued response time.  The video seems to touch, ahem, more on continued response time.  My issue, and what I think the tests in the article were detailing, is the initial response time.
  • Good point. 
  • What delay? Lol
  • See my reply to pranav.
  • 117ms
  • I can tell from practical experience though that my wife's 928 seems WAY more responsive than my iPhone 4 (company phone).
  • The iPhone lags for performance reasons more than anything else.  But agreed, lag is lag and the customer is only concerned about there not having lag, regardless of its origin.
  • My wife still has a iphone 4...I use it time to time and my 928 is way more responsive.
    But, her iPhone does not have problems like the touch screen stop working and other issues that the 928 has...
  • Well my 920 feels incredibly responsive, so I think this is one of those tests that's great for tech nerds but in real world doesn't really make any difference. And does the iPhone actually work with gloves on? I thought that was something on Nokia had, and that's something which really does make a real world difference.
  • Yup, it's certainly an interesting question regarding "does it matter?" And correct, Nokia has that tech, although a few other companies are now starting to use it (it was developed by Synaptics, Nokia merely licenses it).
  • Yes I agree...
    The engineer in me says "This is very interesting" The end user in me says, "Who gives a F since I can't really tell"
    The skeptic in me says, "Agawi was paid off by Apple"
    The nerd in me says "Screw you, WP is better..just because"
    The ATT customer says "Where's my damn Amber update"
    The fat guy in me says "Whats for dinner"
  • Agreed 920!!!!!!
  • +925 :D
  • HAHA!!  Awesome comment!
  • The rest of us can relax now...Walter1832 has won the internet, and its not even 11 am where I am! Damn!
  • Thanx for a great laugh walter1832! :-)
  • Do each of them have their own name and do they ever tell you to do bad things ... like buy an iPad?
  • Lol, +920 without GDR2/Amber to Walter.
  • You win in life my good sir.
  • Reply of the day, thanks for the laugh
  • One of the best comments I've seen on this site. LOL
  • I can tell you right now that my iPhone 4 has never worked for me while I was wearing gloves. It barely responds when my nails are a little long. Really don't get the statistics in this article. :-/
  • The Synaptic tech for Super Sensitive Touch came after the iPhone 4. Apple could license it for their devices though if they want to.
  • Super Sensitive Touch is just as revolutionary of feature as the TouchID finger print reader is..but it got literally no press and everyone didnt beat their meat all day about it. iSheeps go BAAAAA!
  • Well, blame Synaptics who don't advertise ;) Also, since Nokia didn't invent it, it's not unique to Lumia phones ergo less of a selling point to boast about. Also, TouchID, AFAIK is unique to Apple--it's their tech and TBH, it's pretty damn nice to use.
  • While no one can argue this tech has been attempted before, it may finally be done right now, does it really matter. It is not a game changer like it is made out to be. They spent s long talking about it, but really is it that big of a deal. Maybe I appreciate it less because I never lock my phone. It is always open. Unless youre a player trying to hide you hoes from your old lady, I dont see the point (outside of work phones). And even then, a small % of sheep are corporate users.
  • I think that's why it kind of is a game changer. I don't lock my phone often for two reasons: (1) It's a pain to unlock each and everytime (2) You look suspicious (or make others feel you don't trust them) TouchID solves both of those problems and it does it very well. I think a lot of people don't use PINs because of those two issues, so if this "solves" that, then yeah, kind of a big deal ("game changer" though is a relative term, YMMV).
  • I can type my pin into my phone just as quickly as someone can using touchID. As for your 2nd point, maybe you shouldn't shift your eyes around so much when you do it :P
    Right now, I don't think it's much of a "game changer" as a lot of journalists have been calling it. You can use it to unlock your phone and log into iTunes to purchase music with the latter being something I have no interest in anyway. It could be something more significant if they let 3rd parties make use of it but if Siri is anything to go by, they won't and it'll be something that Google or MS can leapfrog.
  • "I can type my pin into my phone just as quickly as someone can using touchID."
    Honestly, I can't see how that is possible. I don't move my thumb at all when on TouchID, just press the Home key and hold it for a 1/2 sec and it unlocks. Unless your passcode is 0000, I just don't see how that is physically possible.
  • I too am having a really hard time seeing it as a game changer.  I don't think a substantial amount of people will suddenly start locking their phone because of it.  People would be dealing with the hassle of a pin already if they were actually fearful of losing their phone and the content on it.  A finger scanner isn't going to suddenly change their view of securing their data.  If someone wasn't using a pin, but they start using the finger scanner, it's more likely because it is one of very few new features on a 5s or because they are trying to look cool.  Most importantly, the feature has to actually serve its purpose for it to be a game changer.  The fact that the service was hacked in how much time...really prevents it from being a game changer right there.
  • HTC has been scanning fingerprints since at least 2007. It never changed the game.
  • Yup, and I have an LG Expo from 2010 running WM6.5 It sucked. (the phone was great though).
  • Are you really saying that you would suddenly start locking your phone because touch ID would save you the inconvenience of an extra 1s and a couple extra button presses it takes to use a pin over touch ID?  I am not even sure what to say to that, but certainly nothing good.
  • But if Apple licensed it, it would cost them a couple dollars, but they would claim it was revolutionary and completely new, then charge an extra $100 for the "new" feature, so maybe they will save it for the 6s... But then when do they but NFC and wireless charging in? 7s!?!??! So many single features to add and market as a new technology.
  • I know right! If I had gloves on it was over for iPhone 4s usage. The phone would just give up, it was sad. Now my 928 on the other hand worked like a glove. See what I did there :-)
  • I think that there is a chance that the screen does have the delay in order to filter all mistakes while using the phone. I.E. a bad contact of the finger with the screen or a slight and short lift of the finger with the screen.
    That happens a lot to me and the phone seems to not launch or do stuffs that I didn't want to because the "delay".
    So, to me that's a feauture.
  • I 2nd this proposal.
  • Who cares? Lol. WP all the way.
  • No one cares about this test. 55ms to 125ms is an unnoticeable difference
  • Two things: I bet if Windows Phone had won, comments here would not be "no one cares" ;) It has not been demonstrated that the difference in unnoticeable. It's an interesting question if it is/isn't, but let's not assume it does not matter
  • "It has not be demonstrated..." who didn't not be demonstrated it and where's my GDR2 for my ATT Lumia 920? :-)
  • Dan do you think the 925 may have done better?
  • Honestly, no idea. I have no idea if Nokia even measures/considers this when making phones. That's why I find it interesting.
  • That's because Nokia spend q much time with the phone's camera that they have no time to focus on more important features of the phone itself.
  • Exactly. But that's true of all fans. They trivialize positive things about their competitors and exaggerate positive things about their team.
  • Okay hands down the best reply to any comment ever it does matter as much as each pixel in the camera or screen
  • I agree with Rubino when he said that if it was WP, everybody was celebrating.
    My brother has an Iphone 4, and I have Lumia 520, my little sister 920.
    My little sister to my brother is near the same.
    But my lumia 520 is different, depending or what I do. If it is native thinks like contacts (people) and calling I guess I won (since I am dual core). But when comes to apps, I always believe that Apple has the touch more responsive.
    I guess it is a kind of calibration and also because NXT kernel is a 21 years old. Our kernel is a kid compared to Apple's kernel. And Yes kernel is the main way how to improve software contact with hardware.
    As active member of XDA, since my Android's days, when it comes to Google's OS, the problem is the core. They don't like to accept it, because it is not a good propaganda for them. But the way is Dalvik cache is conceived , always will be some kind of noticeable lags.
    But, I have to say, any Android test should do using a Nexus. Pure android has less issues, and remember all the virtual machines for devs, usually takes a pure android experience for testing. Android improved a lot, the last kernel 3.7, is more responsive, made the multitasking much better (less anr) and less consumption of power. Rooms for improvement? A Lot, at least Google is trying to do their best to fill the gaps of their OS. Will perfect like iOS? I guess never, but close.
    About MS, I thoght, because I still don't know how Windows Phone truly manages the things, and how NT Kernel is well designed. But some said that Windows Phone 7X is better responsive. I guess this is because the maturity of Windows CE Kernel, developers could understand how it works (and their limitations) and improve the way it was designed to a perfect answer between Hardware and Software.
    Windows Phone 8 in other side was made running out of time. I guess the GDRs will improve a lot the experience. My lumia 520 improved with GDR2. Peharps with GDR3 will be better. Room for improvement always will be.
    I just wonder if MS is really doing and put all the efforts to do that. Because AFAIK NT kernel could much better than NXT kernel. But they need to improve the things. Look to Google, they have the worst core system, but they are spending all the resources there to improve their limits. MS should follow the example.
  • 1. Wholeheardily agree
    2. I think it would be near impossible to demostrate the difference. We'd need some double blind type of test, but for that you'd have to find people who haven't used an iPhone or Android device. Those people are becoming few and far between. Once you've used one of those 2, you're more than likely going to have a bias to the one you tried first and even with a keyboard skin, people will instantly know which device they're using.
  • I think the delay is a feature to prevent unintentional launchs or unintentional commands in apps. More than once I don't make perfect contact with my finger in the screen or it does lift for a split of second by mistake.
    I think that is an intended feature.
  • While I completely agree with you, I really do believe that the attitude of the average user will be, who cares. It certainly seems obvious that Apple thinks they will care. Keep in mind that lots of things in this world are perceptible, but that doesn't mean it matters to most people. There are some people that notice the "rainbow effect" from DLP projectors while others are completely oblivious to it. Some people with crazy good eye sight can actually notice the "screen door effect" on LCD projectors while others have no idea it's there until they walk up to the screen. Some swear they need a 2ms display for gaming while others are plodding along happily with something far more meager. Some can only game with a wired mouse while others are happy with their wireless mouse. Just because it is perceptible, doesn't mean most people will notice or even care in actual daily use. I really believe that this is one of those things where most people either won't notice or care. I am one that didn't notice switching from a 4s to a 1020. It never even crossed my mind that there could be a difference.
  • If you were playing a fighting game or FPS you'd notice. However, we don't have many of either on Windows Phone.
  • Oh, yes, it is very noticeable. You can notice a 20ms difference with both your eyes and ears.
    When I compare responsiveness of my L620 with a friends iPhone 4S, it IS noticeable. It is even noticeable with an iPhone 3GS (still faster than my Lumia).
  • I wonder how the Lumia 920 would have faired with its LCD screen instead of AMOLED on the 928. I have always prefered LCD verses amoled. Just my preference but the colors look more real and the screen seems much more responsive.
  • Does not really matter about the panel tech, it is really the digitizer and the coding behind it that matters.
  • Android are laggy coz there were not meant to be on touchscreens! But WP is meant to be on touchscreens!! Why lag?? Why??
  • I wonder if the screen sensitivity was on high?
  • That's what I wondered
  • Was thinking the same thing
  • I was neither wondering nor thinking about that.
  • I prefer my 920 to typing compared to my wife's iphone any day, spell check on the iPhone 5 is not very intuitive, and I find hitting the sliders easier on my phone as well, many times I can't get the sliders to change on her phone, how many seconds are wasted there?
  • I tried enabling spell check on my iPhone 4 and iPod touch and it indeed sucks. However, I love autocorrect on my Lumia 810 and 920.
  • What does that have to do with the screen test?  Are you being defensive for being defensive sake?
  • It could be a comment on the effectiveness of the keyboards, as it was proposed the response time may be a factor in people preferring the iPhone keyboard.
  • Correct funkygeneral, it was a comment on keyboard effectiveness, no defensiveness, I own both products, I am looking at overall usage time using the keyboard, the response time of the screen, while significantly better on the iPhone, there are other factors at play. If I was a huge gamer then the screen display latency would be more important to me.
  • Good point.  As an iPhone user myself, I must say we are severly lacking in that area.  Personally I think we need two things to have a better typing experience, a wider screen and additional typing tools i.e. gesture typing.  I use gesture typing on my Android devices constantly.
  • dc, thanks,I love the typing predictive algorithm, I am all for gesture typing for user choice, but I can type by moving my thumbs faster I feel, especially words with double letters.
  • Who's being defensive? That would be you. I, on the other hand, was responding to Inside man 55 and his comment of how he feels about using spell check on his wife's iPhone. Oh, and also expressing my personal opinions, which, last I checked, I have every right to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Take it easy, I already retracted and conceded that it was a good point.  At least acknowledge my acknowledgement of being erroneous. HAHA
  • Metal chick, you are awesome, I love your right to express your opinion, I got in trouble with someone yesterday for arguing why they gave Sam a -1 for no reason. As long as no one does that we are cool lol :)
  • I agree on the sliders.  I had an iPhone 3GS (low res screen).  When they released the 'retina' screens and I updated iOS, the buttons all seemed to get smaller.  It's like if a button was 20x20 pixels on my 3GS, when I updated it suddenly became 10x10 pixels (or maybe 20x20 on the iphone 4).  Your comment reminded me how annoying that was.  Of course, i switched to Android soon after that and will never go back.  The new Lumia 1520 is getting me to consider making the jump to winphone though!
  • Tyler, Glad to see I am not the only one, after using my 920 that annoys me to no end, lol I find that funny regarding your comment on Android, yes the 1520 will be one hell of a phone / tablet. I call the 1520 Nokia BALLS for Big and Large Lumia Slate. :D
  • Yeey...who gives a damn.
  • I guess that something maybe wrong with this test. WP, being native, like iphone, should not be close to Android(Dalvik). Launching an app is not the correct way to test this.
  • Well duh. The latency on the 928 and Windows Phones in general is awful.
  • Thank you, someone realistic, no the latency isn't great on windows phone and needs to be improved.
  • Again benchmarks mean crap. In real world use, my L920 games nice, I text and email nice, and when I touch it has a brief animation and opens. Again this is a "who cares topic"
  • That's kind of a terrible position to take as it implies there no room for improvement. Technology is based on faster, longer lasting, more accurate and being smarter. Saying "who cares" is not really what technology and its development is about. Once again, I bet if we had said Windows Phone won, the comments here would be gushing about Nokia or something, so forgive me if I take these "who cares" comments with a grain of salt ;)
  • I really dig the neutral "let's learn from this and appreciate good competition" motto adopted by you today :) More users need to inculcate this attitude; Since a demanding competition calls for better innovation in all the right directions and at the same time: faster :)
    I agree, more comments would pour in with each user gloating away if WP was on top! I'm glad at least that a good chunk of them decided to turn away quietly than degrade the stats. We're better than Molly c'mon! ;) :P
    Anyways, I hope this issue is worked on and we get ahead in due time! I have that trust in Nokia (regardless of which corporate giant it is sucked into) :)
    Cheers! :)
  • Completely agreed. If WP fans keep downgrading the results then manufacturers won't care for this. WP fans here should learn to take the hit and accept that iPhone, currently, has much better latency on touch.
  • I'm all for improvement and innovation but if my senses can't tell a difference, then who cares. If 99% users can sense a 50ms difference, congrats to cock and team.
  • I agree 100%.  Most people think they don't notice, but a lot of this type of stuff is noticed subconsciously  and that may affect your overall feel for how something works.  Apple knows this and their low screen latency times are no fluke.
    Engineers are a competitive lot and I'm sure there are some Samsung, HTC, and Nokia engineers digging into their designs to see what they can do to speed up their stuff up.
    Overall I'm not too bugged by getting beat by Apple, its the Samsung S4 beating the Nokia that irks me.