Weekly poll: how much RAM is enough?

Bill Gates might not have actually said “640K ought to be enough for anybody”, but how much is enough? Android Go edition phones come with one or two gigs, mid-rangers often have 4-6GB, then flagships start at 8GB and go all the way up to 24GB.

These number vary by brand, of course. You won’t get more than 12GB out of Samsung or Google, Apple won’t even go that far and the iPhone 15 Pro Max has 8GB of RAM. Other brands will happily put 16GB in a mid-ranger.

Weekly poll: how much RAM is enough?

The first smartphone with 24GB of RAM arrived a few months ago, it was the Red Magic 8S Pro+. A gaming phone, of course. Since then there have been 5 more and most of them aren’t gaming phones, at least they are not as into it as the Red Magic.

Is that too much? Well, games are memory hogs by nature, but these days even web browsers use up a lot of RAM when visiting complex sites (especially with multiple tabs open). And there is the familiar problem for both Android and iOS that the OS will kill an app that’s running in the background to free up RAM for the foreground app. Again, some brands are better about this than others.

When buying a new phone, what’s the amount of RAM that you look for?

As you may have noticed, “virtual RAM” has become quite popular lately, it promises to increase RAM capacity often as much as doubling it. But that’s just virtual memory with better marketing, there’s no extra RAM – the data just gets written out to storage. And with modern, fast flash storage, this works much better than it did with spinning hard drives.

Android’s memory model
Android’s memory model

Still, it feels like a clunky solution for keeping background apps alive. For what it’s worth, Google isn’t a fan, writing “On Android, storage isn’t used for swap space like it is on other Linux implementations since frequent writing can cause wear on this memory, and shorten the life of the storage medium.”

But perhaps you disagree – have you found virtual RAM to improve the usability and performance of your phone? Or do you keep it disabled?

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