May 17 AT 9:05 PM Taylor Wimberly 86 Comments

Does my Android smartphone really need 2 GB RAM?


Last week LG revealed the Optimus LTE2 for Korea, the first phone with 2 GB RAM (random-access memory). Now this week we learned that the Samsung Galaxy S III headed to Japan will also feature 2 GB RAM. We don’t know when either of these models will make their way to the US, but it’s a clear signal that most high-end smartphones in the second half of 2012 will feature twice the memory of today’s flagship devices.

We still don’t know the specs of our carrier versions of the Galaxy S III, so that could end up being the first phone to see 2 GB RAM in the US. The Wall St. Journal also says the Optimus LTE2 is coming to LTE networks in America, but no partners have been announced.

So why exactly does your Android smartphone need 2 GB RAM? We have never seen an Android device with 2 GB RAM so we don’t know exactly how it will affect the user experience, but we can take a few guesses based on what we know of PCs.

Generally speaking, more RAM does not always make your computer faster, but it does allow it do more things at once. Hopefully we will see increased multi-tasking performance when using multiple Android apps. Opening multiple tabs in the Chrome browser should also be improved. Maybe web pages with Flash will not suck (yeah right). And hopefully Google can  lock the home screen in memory so we don’t experience that lag as we wait for our launcher to load.

The underlying Linux kernel that Google uses for Android can surely address 2 GB RAM, but we really won’t know what to expect until we spend some quality time with one of these new devices.

My hope is that the extra memory will bring Android even closer to the true desktop experience that we have been waiting for. Android 4.0 can almost replace a PC right now and Motorola is pushing the limits with Webtop 3.0, but it’s not quite “good enough” just yet. Most users spend the majority of their desktop time in the browser, and that can still be sluggish on today’s hardware.

Google IO is just a month away and we should see new software (Jelly Bean) and hardware, so maybe more details will be revealed soon. In the mean time, let us know how you would like Google and their partners to take advantage of the increased memory.

Via: The Wall St. Journal

Source: PocketNow

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Marcus

    For the average consumer I don’t think 2GB of RAM is really necessary… but the little tech nerd inside of me is jumping for joy at the thought of 2GB phones! I mean to bring Android closer to a desktop experience, 2GB of RAM would be a huge leap forward! And I can’t wait to see what else that extra RAM could do.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Yeah the nerd in me really wants 2 GB RAM + Cortex-A15 CPU. I think we will see it before the year is over.

      • Marcus

        Yeah I know right!? Ahh. Hey, do you know when quad core A15 processors will be out? I don’t know much about them haha and I figured you’d know. Is it even possible to manufacture them?

        • Taylor Wimberly

          Tegra 4 is supposed to be quad A15. Could be very end of 2012 or early 2013.

          • acnaugh

            G18+ Smart Phone Android 2.3 OS 3G GPS WiFi 4.0 Inch Multi-touch Screen

          • Bpear96

            @acnaugh , No one wants your CRAPPY 650MHz +512mb, phone which you clearly copied the design off of a HTC sensation.. GTFO

          • Himmat

            Even Tegra 3+ has been delayed to early 2013. So I think Tegra 4 will only come out mid-2013 at the earliest. It’s a lot more complex than dual-core A15, and even that is not out yet. So yea, mid-2013 at the earliest.

          • Conan Kudo

            It was originally projected that OMAP 5 (Cortex-A15) would become available in the second half of this year, which means OMAP 5 products will become available at the tail end of the year of the beginning of next year.

            The Krait core in Snapdragon S4 is similar enough to Cortex-A9 that you can reap many of the benefits. However, quad core Snapdragon S4 products will not become available until the fall.

          • msgnyc

            Probably wont support LTE……

      • virexed

        The nerd in me really wants to get laid.

        • Homncruse

          The nerd in me wants to put a little nerd in someone else.

      • Korey Nicholson

        LG Eclipse 4G LTE :)

    • DroidSamurai

      I don’t completely agree with you. The way how I see it is, due to the way how the Android ecosystem works, Android phones will never be as optimized as a vertically designed smartphone like the iPhone. With that in mind, I look back to how a Windows PC works — in most cases, a Windows PC require more RAM to perform in a way that’s comparable to a Mac. True, you can argue that Microsoft makes some bad software, but look, Android’s reputation in the smartphone world isn’t any better. Just look at how much RAM the iPhone 4S has. All current top-tier Android smartphones has double the amount of RAM, with a comparable CPU/GPU, but our phones do not run significantly smoother.

      So, 2Gb of RAM is not just for showing off specs, it “may” actually improve performance in real world that can benefit casual users.

      • thel0nerang3r

        What do you mean by “due to the way how the Android ecosystem works, Android phones will never be as optimized as a vertically designed smartphone like the iPhone”? that line confused me.
        Intel did great work to make Android run on their Atom CPU…. by the way, anyone seen a review for it yet?… back on topic. You see variations in benchmarks with phones that have pretty much the same hardware.

      • Joel Bird

        I don’t think that’s true. When comparing minimum requirements for the same piece of software on Windows and OSX, OSX always has higher CPU/RAM requirements.

      • Nonepse

        Kidding me ? I had to switch to 8GB of RAM on my Macbook Pro lately. With 4GB on OS X Lion I was running out of memory all the time..

      • Bpear96

        iOS also doesnt have true multitasking so, thats saves ALOT of ram, but i would rather have true multitasking +2gb ram, then faux multitasking and 512mb of ram :D. Plus all of androids widget etc are all in ram when running. Ram is one of the cheapest components in a phone, so it wont cost much more to double it, and wont use that much more power. Its true that android could be “optimized” for a certain set of hardware, but really it wouldnt be much better, if they where to “optimize” it like iOS it would really just be replacing multitasking with its faux alternative, and forcing hardware acceleration on..

        • jimtravis

          Nicely put. Being a gadget addict, I have many iOS, and Android devices. Android does many more of the tasks I need (realize others have different set of mobile gadget needs) than iOS, and I have to soft reset my iOS devices as often as any Android device. We always hear about how many more tablet optimized apps there are for iPad vs. Android tablets. For me, app. the same % of the apps I use take advantage of the extra screen real estate on both platforms. The non-optimized apps scale up much better on Android than on iOS.

          Like many others, I am looking forward to the reviews to ascertain how much of a difference 2GB of RAM makes in everday use.

    • djb

      2GB of RAM is necessary for all users. It means keeping multiple apps open with the ability to switch between them instantly without a reload. I’d say that’s something everyone would like.

      • Jon

        Although I agree with you it also brings increased battery consumption into question more, there is no point having 2GB of ram on a phone with a bomb of a processor when the battery hasn’t been upgraded/increased. If more ram is in a phone people will leave more apps running and so more complaints about battery consumption (because a lot of people are silly enough not to connect the two) so manufacturers need to increase battery size too.

        • Stuart Halliday

          If we as consumers do not complain about battery life then the company will not know how much of an issue it is with us. It’s as simple as that.

          HTC recently states that due to a survey their consumers wanted a slimmer phone. So what did they do? Slimmed down the battery.

          If reviewers took a stand and made a fuss about battery life then things will change.

          For years we put up with dodgy power supplies in PCs. It wasn’t until reviewers started stating the obvious about the mess of badly made power supplies on the market, that the makers got off their backsides and introduced a system of certificates on PC ATX power supplies. Which lead to much better energy efficient power supplies.

          If we can do it once, we can do it again. So start moaning reviewers and consumers? Start ranting in the web review pages. :)

        • Athinira

          More RAM means LESS battery consumption, not more. It’s less battery intensive to have an app loaded into RAM than not when you start it, because loading from internal memory is more power expensive, and cold-booting apps adds CPU-usage.

  • mkstvns

    I’m not really fussed about RAM. I don’t play games on my phone or do anything particularly intensive.

    I’d describe myself as a power user in terms of spending a lot of time on it, and jumping from app to app (books, social networking, reading articles, emailing, scheduling), but that’s about it. My GS2 has more than enough power for that.

    I WOULD like a higher resolution display, but I certainly can’t say I’m unhappy with the display on my GS2.

    • bemymonkey

      Should’ve waited for a Galaxy Nexus or One X ;)

      I feel like 1GB of RAM is holding me back a little, and I have pretty much the same tendencies as you, jumping from app to app… app switching would be much faster (especially when switching to and from very memory-intensive apps like browsers with lots of open tabs) with more RAM.

    • professandobey

      You realize your situation is exactly the type that would benefit the most from more RAM, right? Doing just 1 intensive thing at a time doesn’t use that much RAM. More RAM would be most helpful when you’re “jumping from app to app” as it would allow for more apps to stay open in the background.

  • mikeymop

    Even if it doesn’t, I’d love locking my most used apps into memory and still having the usual 1GB for other apps.

  • Aaron_301

    Currently I don’t think we need 2 GB of RAM, unless your phone has a really aggressive task killer, a la HTC One X and even then it might not help. But I think sometime in the future (Key Lime Pie(?) maybe) that it will be useful. What I would rather see, for the time being, is 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Just my opinion though…

    • djb

      HUH? I don’t see the connection between 2GB of RAM and the need for an aggressive task killer. The extra RAM would make a task killer less necessary as there would be more room to keep open apps in memory.

      • Aaron_301

        I was actually referring that with more RAM the task killer hopefully wouldn’t kill everything right away.

        • Bpear96

          Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense. The whole reason a task manager/killer “kills” and app is because the device is running low on memory, the more memory the less often it will kill apps, no matter how aggressive it is.

          • Aaron_301

            That’s what I meant though. Sigh….

  • fatspirit

    “640 kb should be enough for everyone” – we’ve heard that before (:

    • Nik

      Exactly thats what they said about hard drives, quadcore processor, and even ram for desktops when first initially introduce. Someone has to advance and push technology and I rather have it come at rapidly then at a snails pace. Plus smartphones are slowly bridging the space between mobile and desktop and 2 GB of ram will only help to turn your smartphone into a full featured desktop replacement. Ubuntu already has demoed their desktop OS using a webdock it will only advance and evolve from there.

  • Ben Gildenstein

    Need may be a bit strong, but RAM is incredibly useful for games resources (ie. textures) which if high-res can greatly improve quality. 2GB is a significant increase over the status quo, and I would love to see game developers target a system with 2GB.

  • Anjie Cai

    It’s not always about how much RAM it has, as samsung and other companies have said, faster RAM is more beneficial. What EVERY android device needs is a 3000+ mah battery >:D give me the fastest and most RAM you can find on a phone, a huge battery and slap it in the next nexus/nexii. Can’t wait till google i/o and the nexii to come

  • daveloft

    Of course more RAM is better. It will allow more apps to be stored in memory. So after launching a few heavy apps when you go back to the an old app it will be just where you left off.

    This isn’t just for gamers or enthusiasts it improves the overall experience of the phone for everyone. Anyone saying its not necessary sound as foolish as Gates when he said 512k is enough. A computer can never have enough memory.

    The downside is higher power consumption and cost. If that’s worked out, bring on the memory.

  • txbluesman

    I can dig it. It is gonna be like having my pimped out NetBook in my pocket. Pretty sweet if I must say so.

  • YMS123

    The answer to the title is a resounding YES , as devices get higher resolution displays theres a lot more pixels to push , you will want the boost in RAM , especially for multitasking, like when you get a phone call or text when playing a high end game, the extra RAM will help jumping in and out of the game smoothly

  • Nathan D.

    Really what I think is that 2gb ram should be the new standard and anything over that is over kill.

    • classic_hero

      until next year, that is

      • SGB101

        next quarter you mean :o)

  • uknowme

    Bring it! I can’t help but wonder how this will improve gaming. That’s one of my main uses for my phones.

  • tarwin

    this is one of the things that I’ve been hoping/waiting for and that I am setting as a criteria for upgrading. I’ve found that 768MB and 1GB are not enough, especially not on a Sense wielding HTC device (at least pre-sense 4.0). For heavy multitasking (whether it’s heavy because of a large number or programs or a few large programs) it would be a veritable gift from the android gods. And as has been mentioned games can really use it. I remember seeing a game at some point which listed as a requirement 300MB FREE RAM, which between what the GPU sets aside and what the OS uses, is a lot (we can’t forget that a big part of that gig in our phones is set aside for our graphics before even doing anything else).

    But wasn’t the first mention of 2 gigs in an android device a Lenovo tablet? Not the S4 packing transformer style one, but the tegra 3 one aimed at business/power users.

    • SGB101

      my X eats it ram atm. idling now it is using 632mb/360mb free. about 60mb is apps 60mb setting making out that os and sense is using 500mb plus just to run the phone.

  • vince

    2GB of RAM would seem a lot, but JB is expected to combine Android and Chrome OS.
    Users will then be able to have unified desktop and phone experience.

    I won’t be surprise to see phones carry 4GB RAM or more next year, similar to most laptop nowadays.

  • Dirge

    Doesn’t Android use RAM differently than PCs?

    • Homncruse

      Yes. To over-simplify things, in Android, free RAM == bad. On PCs, free RAM == good. But Android goes to great lengths to fill as much RAM as possible to make sure everything is ready to go for you to minimize visible load times, and only kills things off when absolutely necessary. So more RAM to fill == more things to pre-cache == better visible performance.

      • ef

        Actually, starting with XP, Windows has used free RAM as a system cache for files it thinks you’ll be most likely to access based on prior usage patterns. Starting with Vista, it has been very aggressive in its caching. Look at your task manager and you will likely see plenty of cached or available ram, but very little free RAM. That’s because it’s pre-emptively loading data into RAM to speed up your system, but is ready at a nanosecond’s notice to discard it in favor files/programs you’re accessing.

        This is just like Android’s behavior that you were describing in the post above. So yes, more RAM = better for any modern OS.

  • KennyL

    Need it? Well, maybe not NEED it but who the heck would say no to more RAM?

  • Y314K

    All I know is that the next Galaxy Note II better have 2GB of ram… And I am pretty sure the XDA crew will figure out how to put the extra ram to great use… XDA’rs will make sure we can Nand boot a 2GB ram device with Jelly Bean, WP8 & Linux & probably be able to switch between them within the other OS…

    • SGB101

      hell yea

  • Ichigo

    The only phones that need 2GB of ram right now are HTC phones with sense cause sense just eats all your ressources. Not taking a shot at HTC but if someone needs it it’s definitely them.

  • Si

    20/30nm Samsung 4Gb LPDDR3 by the end of 2012

    My body is ready

  • CTown

    “Does my Android smartphone really need 2 GB RAM?”

    No, but it sure wants it!

  • WlfHart

    Given the push to make smartphones/tablets replace the pc for lighter users, I see no issue with a RAM increase. Our phones are capable of so much these days that multitasking is natural. More RAM certainly couldn’t hurt.

  • alterSchw3de

    I don’t like this development. It’s nearly the same way pc manufacturer tried to solve performance issues prior to Windows 7.
    The only way to make Android as fluid as it’s competitors is to optimize the underlying abstraction layer just like MS did with GDI+ in Windows 7.

    If we keep in mind how well Windows 7 performs if it’s running on a SSD while Android nearly always already has one, it seems to be a pretty interesting fall with more optimized Windows 8 tablets comming.

    Yes surely Android 4 is a fast system but still it requires more power than a tegra 2 SoCs can deliver (i’m a happy owner of the Asus TF101 so i would say i know ;) ) which shouldn’t be the case… Not for the basic system.

  • parental92

    my next tablet device! or phone :)

    ive got dual core and 1gb of ram on my beloved sgs2 , and im not planning to replace it for 1-2 year ahead istead of repalcing the phone ill need a tablet to support my college live, welcoe a15 chip and 2 gb ram ,be my tablet !

  • dVyper

    More RAM = more apps open at once = more battery drainage


    More RAM = less apps having to restart because of being killed = more battery life

    Which will it be…

    • SGB101


    • Athinira

      The “apps drain battery because they’re open” myth is just that. A myth, and a rather overblown one at that.

      Apps that run in the background use practically no CPU unless they are performing specific active services like virus scanning or similar, which in most cases will be their intended function. Also, modern CPU’s in smartphones have low-power ‘sleep cores’ (like the Tegra 3 5-in-1 design, or the Galaxy S4′s octo-core system of four Cortex-A15 CPU’s at 1.6 Ghz and four Cortex-A7 at 1.2 Ghz).

      So the More Ram = Less Apps having to restart is gonna win out here. It won’t be by much, however, and probably not noticeable unless you’re running a device with low RAM (512 MB to 1 GB og RAM might make a noticeable impact on battery life, but 1 GB to 2 GB won’t).

  • Mafiatounes

    I think this would be a nice hardware upgrade! My One X needs more RAM with Sense wich takes up more than 600 mb there is not much left for a hassle free multi tasking experience, also tablets will benefit much from this upgrade if like the article says you want to use the Webtop 3.0 or a transformer pad to replace a netbook.

  • Wes Haque

    I would rather take a significantly faster RAM (with multi-channel access) than more (slow) RAM. But of course I would scream like an excited toddler in excitement, if I got both!

  • Alex Belko

    well it’s like the question: “does my smartphone really need multi-core processor?” some time ago, so I’d say yes it is a natural progress of smartphones towards the ultimate mobile computers experience)

  • Hue Three of Five

    More ram means manufacturers will add more junk thier skin overlay. Soon we will have Motoblur with 4d animations, vz navigator max, and visual voice mail prime lol.

  • GreatBoo

    The idea of my phone ‘moving me closer to a desktop experience’ isn’t something I want. And with 2gig of RAM allowing all that multitasking, it’ll probably just mean my battery will be worse than it is now.

  • pekosROB

    “And hopefully Google can lock the home screen in memory so we don’t experience that lag as we wait for our launcher to load.”

    THIS. If it can never make my phone ever again have that ridiculous lag when redrawing the homescreens and widgets, I’m sold.

    • Athinira

      You can do that by installing seperate launchers. Most Launchers worth their salt on Android Market have a ‘keep launcher in Memory’ setting.

      For Android 4.0+ i recommend Nova Launcher. The free version alone is awesome (and the Prime version which adds extra functionality only costs 4-5$).

      For Android 2.3 ADW.Launcher is the way to go.

  • Jonathan

    Now carriers can pre-install more bloatware and loggers to fill the extra ram

  • Jayshmay

    I’d like to see the home screens get locked into memory. I hate pressing the home button and waiting for icons & folders to reappear!!!

  • muuii

    “And hopefully Google can lock the home screen in memory so we don’t experience that lag as we wait for our launcher to load.”
    It can be done already ! I have a DesireZ (512MB) running ICS 4.0.4 (smothly) and the trebuchet launcher of ICS is loaded and kept in memory so the phone always respond instantly to the Home button.
    I’m not sure for which devices it exist (only ICS), but the Supercharger script allows to do that !

  • JayB95

    2gb of ram would be nice to have when Ubuntu for Android is released.

    • Jesse Moreno


  • MitchRapp81

    what an odd article. Will we be seeing more articles like “does my phone need a quad core” and “does my phone need buttons” and “do I need a phone” followed by “do i…?”

    seriously. It’s evolution.

  • Himmat

    Yes, indeed we need 2Gb. Or more. Ask me why…

    The iPad/iPhone4S have got 512MB of RAM. High-end Android devices have been having 1GB RAM for the past year or so. I have got an iPad 2 and Tab 10.1 so I speak from experience.

    On the iPad, once I open an app, and then open 10′s of other apps, once I go back to the first open app I can access it in the state I left it before. I.e. if it’s the browser I go to my last open tab(s) or if it’s a book I go to the last read page.

    However, on the Tab, this case is only true for my last 5-8 apps. Lesser if I play games in between. Why?

  • skyflakes

    Does my Android smartphone really need 2 GB RAM?

    Nope, but it will be a welcome improvement, especially now that multitasking is taking off in Android. It will also increase productivity in bigger devices and Android tablets.

    But I think, as in PCs, 2GB RAM will be it. Smartphones with more than 2GB in the future would probably be gaming-oriented devices.

    Okay, so we’ve reached quad core, we’ve reached 41MP camera, we’ve reached 2GB of RAM. Time to move on to other things to improve on, OEMs. (Like BATTERY LIFE!)

  • Mix

    Does my casual desktop really need 8gb or even 16gb to browse the web and and grow my berries on my virtual farm?

    Helllll no, but the average consumer eats big numbers up! I am pumped for phones getting on par with desktops though.

  • quatermass

    It takes a _lot_ of power to read/write to Flash memory. If your phone is low in RAM then the OS has to save the app’s state, kill it, then reload the app later. Especially if it is a widget or service.

    Much better if it had more free RAM then the phone saves power by using RAM instead.

    My 1GB phone has about 700MB free once Android 2.3 has loaded. At the moment it has 200MB free and my home launcher is often getting reloaded with noticeable delay. No doubt 4.0 uses more RAM.

    My next Android Tablet better have 2GB as I feel I’ll be using more apps with it.

  • Kindroid

    New android phones will need it. Not so much for current usage….but to spur development of new cutting edge apps that take advantage of the extra juice. And to allow developers to improve performance of existing apps. Expanding hardware capability in the early days of PC’s led to rapid advances in software applications. Same is true of mobile.

  • Huy

    Of course Android will benefit from more RAM, and even though the average users may not care if their phones have 1 or 2 GB of RAM, the user experience will be a lot better. Doesn’t anyone follow the whole HTC One X’s aggressive memory management that effectively removes any apps that are running in the background so that Sense can run faster? If the One X had 2 GB RAM, probably HTC wiould not have to do that. And more RAM means multitasking will be better, apps will not have to relaunch and restart when you switch between them. Admittedly, I may be too demanding, but I am tired of the fact that every time I switch to Youtube app or the browser from something else, they all need to reload.

  • kusic

    Actually on my Galaxy S2 I dont see much reloading anymore. Already now it keeps in memory a lot of apps.

  • yowanvista

    That ain’t news, the Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD already packs 2GB of RAM

  • Yonas

    I mean 1GB is even more than enough for a smartphone,why the upgrade?,but i’m not saying no to a 2GB of RAM as long as it doesn’t cost me more than the ordinary.

  • gasmasq

    With the steady and certain continual permeation of phone marketed with 512 mb (iPhone) or more (everything else :-P ) RAM, new uses for these handheld computers will continue to find ways to tax the hardware; technological progress breeds market innovation. For devices that arent bogged down by MotoBlur or Sense, multitasking is already functional. Assuming JB’s task management / caching is further optimized to support multicore processors and the extra RAM, devs will have no problem pushing the next generation of devices to their limits. Of course carriers will probably add more bloatware, which wont ever matter if the bootloader is unlocked.

    The real questions to ask are about the development and eventual inclusion of graphene processors in consumer electronics, use of virtual cores in Android devices, battery management & development / evolving past Lio to an equally thin counterpart, hologram displays, development of higher end software (Final Cut Pocket Edition or Flash Dev Kit?), hardware upgrading (processor, video card, RAM), more devices w HDMI out, USB in, a revision/update/replacement of current Bluetooth data transfer protocols, SOPA friendly network/device monitoring/censoring, Linux kernel update and ahh ish while youre at it might as well put em in our damn forearms already! #shadowrun

  • Athinira

    One thing i personally really like about my new Galaxy S3 LTE with 2 gigs of RAM is that i can configure apps that run active services to not show their more-or-less permanent notification bar (including Icon in the upper left corner of the status bar) and not have the device kill them off.

    On my Nexus 7 tablet, which only has 1 gig of RAM, i can’t count on the same stability, so unlike my Galaxy, it’s configured to show the icons and service. Fortunately that doesn’t matter so much on a 7 inch screen (the status- and notification bar isn’t gonna fill up there), but on my Galaxy is makes a huge difference to be able to hide the permanent notifications of Avast, JuiceDefender, Smart App Lock, Tablet Talk and whatever apps i use that might prefer a permanent notification :-)

  • Nredy

    3GB RAM note 3 with QuadCore cpu @2.3Ghz and same lag problems with my DualCore 1GB RAM galaxy note one

  • aripin

    Klk samsumg.V.brp luas ramx.