updated 12:25 pm EDT, Mon May 24, 2010
Faster Android hurt specifically by Flash
Adobe's launch of Flash 10.1 for Android is almost single-handedly responsible for slowing down the experience of the browser and the Android phone themselves, early adopters have discovered in a test. While Flash is installed, the browser on a Nexus One is slower to load content than both an iPhone and an HTC HD2. Android 2.2 is significantly faster without the plugin, but the OS with Flash installed bogs down PocketNow's phone to where it produces a low memory error after visiting only a few websites.
The plugin is still in a beta stage and has room for optimization, but some of the slowdown can be attributed to Flash itself. As the files sometimes range into megabytes rather than the kilobytes of many regular pages, they not only take more time to download but consume the relatively limited memory available to smartphones. Some newer Android phones have 512MB or even 1GB of RAM, but Android's higher memory usage combined with Flash needs can push the limits of the plaform.
When dismissing Flash in the short term, Apple's Steve Jobs referred to performance and stability as two of the most important issues. Demos have been shown with Flash on Android running at least some websites well, but usually only for short instances and some sites deliberately excluded. Hulu blocks Android and tends to run slowly when active as its video isn't optimized for lower-speed processors.