All iPads Why is web browsing so slow on older iPads?

saintforlife

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 25, 2011
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Safari is pretty much unusable on my iPad 4 and iPad mini 2. What is it about web browsing that makes older iPads struggle? Apps like YouTube and Netflix while slow to open are still usable. But the lag and stuttering in Safari makes me not even try to attempt it.
 
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X-Baz

macrumors member
Dec 11, 2002
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Leeds, England
In the olden days, web pages were built out of HTML (which is just plain text with tags in it). And then you used CSS to make it look nice (which is just plain text with curly brackets in it that is parsed and used to transform the appearance of the HTML) and a bit of Javascript (which is just plain text with curly brackets in it that is parsed and converted into machine code) to add interactivity to it.

Nowadays, web pages are built out of Javascript - because we expect web pages to act similar to native apps.

The page is often loaded as some placeholder HTML and CSS, then the rest is downloaded as a whole load of JS code. That code is then run and the Javascript builds the HTML dynamically in the browser. This means that instead of a few snippets of JS that need to be translated into code, there are whole apps that are downloaded, translated and then sit in memory for the duration of that page load. The whole cycle is then repeated (and sometimes cached, which uses up more memory) for the next page load.

This takes time, CPU cycles and RAM. Lots and lots of CPU cycles and lots and lots of RAM. And did I say it takes a load of CPU cycles and RAM?

(Also note that even if it's not a "web app" - if you're browsing a news site or other publisher, most of the adverts, beacons and other stuff, are written as huge globs of Javascript - they aren't there for interactivity, mainly there for analytics, tracking who you are and learning about your behaviour. These are also incredibly heavyweight - so a decent ad blocker may make a huge different to your speed).
 

Heat_Fan89

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Feb 23, 2016
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Safari is pretty much unusable on my iPad 4 and iPad mini 2. What is it about web browsing that makes older iPads struggle? Apps like YouTube and Netflix while slow to open are still usable. But the lag and stuttering in Safari makes me not even try to attempt it.
As someone else mentioned, turn off Javascript. That will make a massive difference. In fact I have the 2018 iPad 6th Gen and I always have JS turned off unless it's required and the best part is ...drumroll... no extensions are required. That way I don't get annoying adverts flashing all over the screen and potential Safari crashes.

What has always puzzled me is why Safari can be soooo slow with Javascript turned on and meanwhile I can use my 2013 Android tablet with 1GB of ram and Chrome doesn't crash or suffer from any of these problems on iOS. Go figure.
 
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saintforlife

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Original poster
Feb 25, 2011
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As someone else mentioned, turn off Javascript. That will make a massive difference. In fact I have the 2018 iPad 6th Gen and I always have JS turned off unless it's required and the best part is ...drumroll... no extensions are required. That way I don't get annoying adverts flashing all over the screen and potential Safari crashes.

What has always puzzled me is why Safari can be soooo slow with Javascript turned on and meanwhile I can use my 2013 Android tablet with 1GB of ram and Chrome doesn't crash or suffer from any of these problems on iOS. Go figure.
How do you turn off JS on the iPad?
 

pika2000

macrumors 603
Jun 22, 2007
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How do you turn off JS on the iPad?
Turning off JS would disable majority of websites nowadays.
I have the mini 2. You can try installing an ad blocker from the App Store. I still find my mini 2 to be somewhat usable under iOS 12.

As for the iPad 4, unfortunately it doesn’t support ad blockers since Apple only allowed Safari extensions on 64 bit devices.

Those devices have reached / are reaching their end of life, unfortunately. I would try trading up to the 2018 iPad and/or mini 5 if you have the budget. The iPad 4 probably is the one you should consider upgrading first. The 2018 iPad is miles better.
 

Heat_Fan89

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Feb 23, 2016
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Turning off JS would disable majority of websites nowadays.
I have found that not to be the case. I find that 5% of the websites I visit require JS and that includes MR. Reddit, Twitter and YT are a few that require JS.

My advice for the OP is to disable JS and see if it works for him/her. It's better than having to shell out money for another iPad.
 
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