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I haven't had a chance to post the new version of the script yet, but Bill is right about the performance improvements on the Mac side. Timing tests show no practical improvement on the iPhone side.

The pertinent section of the updated script is:
set will autosave to false
my replacePlaceholders(theTask, thePlaceholders, theReplacements, dateDifferential)
set theNote to (stripPlaceholders of me from theNote)
set theNote to (my replaceText(theNote, thePlaceholders, theReplacements))
set note of duplicatedItem to theNote
set will autosave to true
One potentially important difference between our situations is that my script is creating entirely new projects and actions. Therefore I don't have to worry about merging changes from edits on the iPhone side. I'm not sure what effects you would get from turning off autosave if some of the tasks changed by the script had pending changes on the iPhone side. Thorough testing is in order.

(The updated populate script is coming Real Soon Now®.)