We all know iOS and Android, they are the most dominant mobile operating systems on the planet. From the last couple of years a trend has been going on and that is, Android Phones have started adopting much higher quantities of RAM(Random Access Memory). Samsung Note flagships come with around 6GB RAM, OnePlus 6 Comes with a staggering 8GB RAM, many phones come with 6GB RAM options too. A few years ago this would have seemed impossible. On the other hand Apple have been so consistent with their RAM quantities. Over the years they have used 1 & 2GB of RAM for Apple Devices (which are considered as flagships) and only the iPhone X has got a decent improvement and has got 3GB RAM. But how does iOS manage to completely destroy android phones in performance despite having lesser RAM? Some people suggest that iOS has better memory management and thus is more efficient. Lets find out Shall we?
Hey Guys! this is Manas from csopensource.com – “your one stop destination for everything computer science and technology”. I have been doing a couple of ML tutorials from the past couple of days and have decided to take a small break and focus on the technology side of things, today’s topic is quite interesting, We Shall see “Why are phone manufacturers increasing the amount of RAM in Android devices and Why has apple not done so”. So sit back and enjoy this article.
We are using 2 phones for the memory test and that is Google Nexus 5X with 2GB RAM and Apple iPhone 7 also with 2GB RAM. This ensures fair competition. Both are considered to be stock flagship phones.
Few Things worth considering
- After a quick boot The Nexus 5X has about 850MB of available RAM and the iPhone 7 has 740MB of Available RAM. From this point we can see that the core functionality of Android 6 takes up lesser memory than that of iOS 11. So this brings up our first fact that After a freshly booted up system Android uses lesser RAM than iOS. However this is because after a boot no apps are loaded and there is tons of available RAM. We have to consider the fact that on modern day operating systems use the concept of Virtual Memory, i.e the app thinks that it lives inside its own memory space.
- We have to also consider the fact of virtual addressing and physical addressing of RAM. Sometimes if an app asks for lets say 1 MB of RAM to load a picture the OS might not give it that full Megabyte of RAM, instead if the picture takes up only half of that 1 MB it will allocate only 512 KB of RAM. This scheduling takes some time and is the key difference between Virtual and Physical RAM Addressing.
RAM Usage in Certain Applications
So We can see a pattern here, on average Android uses more RAM in most of the applications around 6% more RAM on average.
But with all our observations here 2GB of RAM is plenty but why do phone manufacturers keep installing more RAM on our phones? The answer is a bit more complicated…
- On many Android phones RAM is used as a selling point to attract potential customers, but excess RAM doesn’t help in Performance.
- We use our phones constantly and may be multitasking too and in such cases Extra RAM makes a lot of sense but certainly not upto 8GB and beyond as we never reach such usage levels.
- User Experience – We constantly expect our apps to be exactly the same how we left it before closing the app and do not like it to reload to achieve this we need more RAM.
- Difference in Memory Swapping Algorithms
- When an app needs more memory than is available, Android kills the other running unused apps that are in memory to make space for the new app, this is slightly inefficient but gets the job done! in iOS however, when a new app demands space in memory existing apps are made to reduce their memory usage and thus create space for the new app, the old app still exists in memory but in a lesser active state. This enables lesser reload times in iOS than in Android and gives the illusion that iOS is faster. To reduce the reloading time manufacturers increase available RAM to reduce the app killing in Android. Totally makes sense!!
I am impressed by the way iOS handles low memory situations when compared to Apple as this is a much more efficient process and reduces load timings too. Now the final statement is that iOS and Android need almost the same amount of RAM to run, but iOS manages the RAM in a much more efficient manner allowing it to cut down on its RAM limit without hurting its performance. Low amounts of RAM on a flagship Android phone becomes a bottleneck whereas in iOS it doesn’t matter. Apple doesn’t put more RAM because it doesn’t need it! It can run totally fine with a lower amount of RAM. The cost that they save here can be invested in other parts of the phone such as the CPU which has a lot more benefits. Now the final question is why do Apple products cost so much despite less RAM? — Apple is a hardware company that strives for perfection. All iPhones have amazing build quality, amazing software experience and Well Supported Updates for its OS. Android phones don’t prioritize in such things, they focus more on the usable budget end phones, resulting in the price drop.
Thank you so much for spending your valuable time reading my article! Until Next time! Bye