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Some device detection companies have resorted to analysing how the device performs under stress – how quickly its processor performs artificial tasks

• Some device detection techniques stress the device to identify the model of iPhone and iPad
• Apple is the only major smartphone/tablet manufacturer not to provide standard device detection to model level
• A simple change by Apple to iOS could resolve issue

51Degrees, a device detection and web optimisation specialist, has performed 100,000s of tests on all Apple iPhone and iPad models to understand the accuracy and performance implications of different device detection techniques. The results show that some techniques take more than 250ms and can still be inaccurate.

Whilst all other major device vendors support device detection, the process by which a website identifies the device that is browsing and delivers the most suitable version of the website to the device – it is currently more difficult for websites to correctly identify Apple models.

James Rosewell, CEO and founder of 51Degrees comments: “According to our data, around 50% of Smartphone browsing comes from Apple devices, yet it is not possible for any device detection solution to accurately identify specific models of Apple’s product range using standard techniques.”

51Degrees’ patent pending process analyses user agent headers to identify specific devices browsing websites, enabling the site to deliver an improved user experience. 51Degrees’ process identifies false positives and achieves 99.9% or better accuracy. The data analysis team classify more than 200 new web enabled devices every week.

Whilst it is simple to identify that a device is from Apple, the company does not provide comprehensive user agent headers. This means identifying specific Apple variants is more difficult. Some device detection companies have resorted to analysing how the device performs under stress – how quickly its processor performs artificial tasks. However, web sites and device detection companies that do this actively degrade the device. Furthermore, the results still do not distinguish between many different iPad models and some variants of iPhone 5 and 6.

“Stress testing is awful in theory, and proven to be terrible in practice,” comments Rosewell. “51Degrees is all about improving the web experience, not making it worse by draining the battery and consuming system resources unnecessarily.”

“By simply adding model information to user agent headers, Apple can ensure that users get the best experience possible when browsing multi-screen aware web sites from iPads and iPhones as well as ensuring that device detection solutions do not need to stress test devices, slowing the device and lowering user experience. This simple change would make a significant difference to Apple users across the globe.”


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About 51Degrees
51Degrees delivers cost-effective, risk-free device detection, web optimisation and mobile analytics solutions enabling developers to maximise their customer’s web experience. With more than 30 years’ management expertise in developing and managing mobile web services, 51Degrees is used by more than 1.5 million websites and supports more than three billion unique device visits every month. The company is headquartered in the UK. For more information visit

For further information on 51Degrees contact:
Ellie Newton
XL Communications Ltd
Call: + 44 (0)7500802530

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