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In terms of rendering speed it quickly becomes clear that although this update is a vast improvement on the previous version of the software, Iris Browser is still no match for Opera Mobile. For example, the BBC home page took 13.4 seconds to display using Opera and a massive 30.6 seconds using Iris; Opera loaded the eBay homepage in 8.7 seconds whereas Iris took 15.7 seconds; and Autosport.com displayed in Opera in 14.4 seconds, but took 25.6 seconds to appear in Iris. However, with TrustedReviews the two were a closer match with Opera, taking 13.5 seconds and Iris taking 13.9 seconds. Even so, these results show that Iris still has a long way to go before it matches Opera in terms of page load and rendering speeds.
Of course, page load times are only one part of the browsing experience. Other factors such as zooming and page scrolling speeds are also important. One of the nice things about Iris Browser is that as you scroll around the screen it pops up a thumbnail view of the entire site in a box to show you exactly where you are in relation to other elements of the page. It also has an intelligent zoom feature so if you double tap on a column of text it will zoom in so that column fills the screen. Double tapping again zooms back out again. Zooming and scrolling was quite quick on the O2 Zest and pretty much on a par with Opera, but unfortunately on the Touch HD it was usually much more sluggish.
On the plus side, Torch Mobile has sprinkled some neat graphical touches throughout the interface. For example, when you tap on a link to a page, a small animation shows the link being pressed into the page before the browser starts to the load the new site. Similarly when you view the browser history, previously visited pages are shown as thumbnails that you can flick through in a similar way to the Coverflow graphics used for flicking through albums on the latest iPods. However, if you don't like this graphical wizardry you can select to view the History log as a standard list instead. A similar Coverflow-style system is used for switching between open tabs (you can have up to four pages open in tabs at any one time).