In Microsoft’s Smoked By Windows Phone campaign you’ll see a lot of informal speed tests that make Windows Phone out to be faster than other platforms. Most of those things are due to Windows Phone being designed to have less steps required to perform certain tasks, but what about very basic tasks like launching an app or getting to the home screen? Can Windows Phone on an ancient processor really be faster at those simple things when compared to the latest dual core Android phone?

It turns out Windows Phone employs a few little tricks that make it seem faster to the user even if the actual task may take longer to complete.

First up, let’s look at the lock screen.  As soon as you start sliding it upwards, the lock screen image is instantly responsive and as soon as you’re done, it’s instantly finished.  Compare this with the Galaxy S III’s unlocking mechanism.  I swipe a finger across the water, but my home screen doesn’t appear until a split second after I finish the water ripple gesture. 

What about when it comes to launching certain built in functions of both phones?  When I touch the People tile on Windows Phone, the tile instantly responds to my touch. You can see it tilt in space as if it is literally being touched.  Then when I let my finger up, the other tiles instantly fly away while the People hub listing loads.  This instant response is what gives Windows Phone the feeling of speed.

Look at the same function of pressing a button on the Galaxy S III.  If you look closely, there is not an instant response to my finger touching the icon.  Its response happens after my touch is finished.   It does load the intended action faster than the people hub loads on Windows Phone, but the perception is that there is a lag.

In some cases there really is some lag though.  For example, if I’m already in some other app and I want to go to the home screen, I will press the home button.  Again, if you look closely, the software doesn’t respond to the button press until later.  Windows Phone on the other hand, starts responding instantly… yet takes a bit of time to finish its animated transition.  Though you’ll see that Windows Phone has the same kind of lag problem when loading Bing from the search button.

Of course, this Galaxy S III is still running the old Ice Cream Sandwich operating systems and things could certainly be different with Jelly Bean… just as things could certainly be different with Windows Phone 8 running on modern dual core hardware.  Still it’s interesting to see how some subtle design changes can have such an effect on perceived speed.

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