Google Universal Analytics
Select Page

When talking about smartphone specifications, one that pops up quite often is RAM. In recent years, we’ve seen the amount of RAM on smartphones increase more and more every year. And now we have smartphones with up to 16GB of RAM.

With smartphone manufacturers stuffing their phones with so much RAM, it has led many to ask themselves, “how much RAM does a smartphone really need?”


It is commonly believed that 4GB of RAM is good enough for the average smartphone user. However, how much smartphone RAM is enough for you depends on how you use your phone. If you mostly use your smartphone to run multiple media-heavy apps such as games and photo/video editing apps, then you will need more RAM than someone who uses their phone for more basic functions.


To better understand how much RAM you need, you first need to know what RAM is and how it affects the performance of a smartphone.

What is RAM?


RAM stands for Random Access Memory, which is expressed in bytes (megabytes or gigabytes). Unlike the larger internal storage where a smartphone permanently stores files, RAM is much smaller. It’s where the phone temporarily stores data that it’s not currently using but might need in the near future while it’s running its operations.

RAM helps to speed things along in the smartphones operations because of its close proximity to the processor on the memory hierarchy. That means it’s much quicker for the processor to access data stored in the RAM than the internal memory.

So, when you’re running multiple apps and switch seamlessly between them, their data is being kept in the RAM so that the phone can easily access it when you switch back to the app.

If it wasn’t for RAM, every time you switch to another app, it would relaunch it from scratch from the internal storage. Any unsaved work will be gone, and the other app you were working on might shut down in the background.

What is the purpose of RAM?

The purpose of RAM is not to make the phone run faster. That’s the job of the processor. RAM simply creates space for app data to be temporarily stored there while not in use. If the RAM has a lot of space, then more apps can be kept running in there. This will give you the feeling of speed as you switch quickly between your most frequently used apps.

If your phone doesn’t have a lot of RAM, then you won’t get the same speedy user experience you would get with a lot of RAM. If the RAM gets full, any “old” apps in the queue get shut down to make space for newer app data. So, if you go back to the old app, it will relaunch from scratch.

Having an app shut down in the background can cause problems, especially if the app in question is a messaging app. For example, if you run out of RAM and the system shuts down your WhatsApp, you will not receive any messages until you relaunch it again. It will appear as one tick to whomever you’re texting with.

How much RAM is typically found on a smartphone?

In the early days of smartphones, the early adopters of smartphone RAM technology only had about 192MB of RAM, and the original iPhone only had 128MB of RAM. However, the more sophisticated smartphones have become, the more RAM they have required.

Today, it is common to find smartphones that have RAM that ranges between 3GB and 8GB of RAM.

Most recently, though, some smartphone manufacturers have pushed things as far as 12GB and even 16GB of RAM. This begs the question…

How much RAM does the average smartphone user need?

Apps can consume anywhere between around 100MB and 1.2GB of RAM. The average smartphone user might not be a mobile gamer, but that doesn’t mean the apps they use don’t consume a lot of RAM. The amount of RAM the average user needs depends on the apps they use.

To have a better understanding of how much RAM some popular apps take, have a look at the chart below.

So, according to the infographic above, even if you’re not playing games on your smartphone, using apps that are media-heavy such as Instagram, or having many tabs open in your web browser can take up a lot of RAM.

So, if you have a smartphone with 1.5GB of RAM and you have Instagram (700MB) as well as WhatsApp (264MB) open, launching Twitter (400MB) might close one of the apps and clear its data from the RAM to make space for Twitter because it will be full. Remember, the Android operating system also takes up some RAM.

The average person probably uses a handful of apps more frequently than others, and oftentimes these are social media and communications apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Gmail. It might not be a large number of apps, but the numbers add up.

That’s why a lot of people recommend 4GB of RAM for most people. It’s a decent amount of RAM for a smartphone, and it will allow you to multitask easily across a number of apps.

How much RAM is enough for a smartphone gamer?

If you’re a mobile gamer or someone who uses their phone for a lot of media-intensive activities such as editing photos and videos, then you may need more RAM in your smartphone than the average person. For people like that, 8GB of RAM would be sufficient. If you’re a light gamer, then even 4GB can do.

Not all games take up a lot of RAM, but there are some pretty heavy hitters out there. And although playing one game will not use up the entire 8GB of RAM, the numbers add up when you play multiple games at the same time.

Also remember, gaming smartphones are not dedicated gaming consoles. They serve multiple functions, but primarily they’re a communications device. So, while playing games, you still want to be able to get messages coming through from WhatsApp, emails from Gmail, and other notifications from apps that are important to you.

Personally, I prefer to listen to my own music while I play games on my smartphone instead of listening to the original soundtrack (but I keep SFX on). To do that requires you to have enough RAM to run both a game and a music player, as well as other apps in the background.

You don’t want to miss out on important communication just because you were playing a RAM-guzzling game that shut down all your other apps. If you demand a lot from your smartphone, then 8GB of RAM should be sufficient for you to run enough apps to even forget about some of them.

Is a 16GB RAM smartphone the best?

16GB of RAM is currently the most RAM available on smartphones. But smartphones with the most RAM aren’t necessarily the “best” phones on the market.

The primary determining factor of a smartphone’s speed and performance is the processor, not the RAM. A 16GB RAM smartphone with only two 1.8GHz cores is not better than a smartphone with 6GB RAM and four 2.5GHz cores.

Most smartphones with 16GB RAM are gaming smartphones. That makes sense because games with intense 3D graphics take up a lot of RAM. More RAM means you can still keep other apps running in the background while playing heavy games.

However, some people believe that 16GB of RAM on a smartphone is overkill and just an attempt by manufacturers to buff up the specs and drive sales. There may be some truth to that. After all, not even the average computer has 16GB.

RAM is not what makes a smartphone great. Other specs matter.

But what about Apple?

inside iphone

Generally, iPhones have never had as much RAM as their Android counterparts. While some Android flagship smartphones boast RAM as much as 16GB, the most RAM an iPhone has ever had to date is 6GB. Yet they perform pretty much on par with some devices that have more RAM.

The reason for this boils down to the design of the Android and Apple operating systems. Because Android runs on so many devices with different configurations, it has a lot of code it has to translate to make apps run properly on different devices.

The system Android uses to cater to a variety of devices comes at the cost of a lot of RAM. This is a problem that Apple does not have to deal with. Their operating system only runs on iPhones, so they can design their software to run as efficiently as possible, using far less RAM than Android OS.

Another reason why iOS uses less RAM than Android is the way in which the RAM is managed. As long as there is space on the RAM, the Android OS will keep apps running in the RAM until it’s full, and it has to remove data to make space for more.

iOS takes a different approach. Instead of allowing apps to take up as much RAM as they want, iOS allocates and deallocates RAM as and when needed.


Having a sufficient amount of RAM on your smartphone is great because it allows you to quickly switch between your frequently used apps as and when you need them, which helps speed up the performance of a phone.

However, there is no need to go chasing after smartphones with the most RAM. There are many other factors that affect the performance of a smartphone, one of which is the processor. Sure, RAM is important, but it’s not everything.

If you’re shopping around trying to decide which phone you should get based on smartphone specs, you need to read this.

%d bloggers like this: