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in my case I found that if you need to check for many replacements in one go, then strtr is faster. for example I am doing this kind of thing
$text = strtr($text, array('é' => 'e', 'È' => 'E', 'Â' => 'A'));
plus another 20 replacements or so. I tested both functions 10 times each and strtr was faster 8 times.
I would be interested to hear any one elses experiences here!