Is it true that iOS needs less RAM than Android?
I think you’ve heard the theory more than once that iPhones supposedly need less RAM than Android smartphones. iOS, they say, is so economical and optimized that 1 GB would be enough for it, while Android wouldn’t have enough RAM for 4, 6, or even 10 GB. This, in any case, is how iPhone owners usually explain why Apple will never be able to equip them with a normal amount of RAM. Another thing is that in fact, the OS itself does not gobble up that much RAM and the bulk of its volatile memory is spent on other processes.
To start with a little background information. RAM is the memory that is responsible for the processes running here and now. It powers active and background applications, the operating system, and various mechanisms. RAM is an energy-dependent type of memory. That is, it works only as long as it is powered up. But when it is no longer powered – for example, if your smartphone is turned off – all data from RAM is either deleted or moved to long-term storage.
Where does the RAM go on Android
So, to start with, I suggest looking at how much RAM is consumed by Android:
- Go to “Settings” and open the “System and Updates” section;
- In the window that opens, select the “For Developers” menu;
- Scroll down and open the “Running apps” tab;
- The value next to “System” is the amount of RAM that Android consumes.
Generally speaking, the amount of RAM that Android consumes is not fixed and can vary depending on the smartphone model, the firmware used and the amount of available RAM. In my case, the consumption can range from 1.3 to 2.5 GB. Interestingly, the longer the smartphone works without rebooting, the fewer applications I unload from the background mode, the less RAM is consumed. And, if I just rebooted the smartphone, it takes some time to test the functionality of all its functions and mechanisms and can consume even 3 GB at once.
Unfortunately, we have no way to check how much RAM iOS consumes. Therefore, I suggest that we focus on a comparison that everyone understands, namely on applications. After all, any schoolboy knows that the more RAM, the more applications at the same time the smartphone can hold in memory.
Of course, iOS owners are trying to convince us otherwise, claiming that their iPhone with its 3-4 GB of RAM works more efficiently than Android’s 8-12 GB, but, jumping ahead, I will say that this is far from true.
Below I provide a revealing video where the author compares app launch speeds on the Galaxy Note 20 and the iPhone 11. Yes, the first part of the video does not give us much, demonstrating rather the performance of the processor, because the RAM is almost not involved here. Much more interesting for us is the second part, where the blogger starts to run all open applications from the end to see which application is short of RAM, and the smartphone instead of pulling the program from its cache, loads it again.
Phones’ RAM consumption
The Galaxy Note 20 (as you understand, any Android smartphone could be in its place) pulls up all the apps from the background properly. The iPhone 11, on the other hand, gives up about 2/3. About a third of the apps that were run in the first phase of testing, banal unload due to lack of RAM. As a result, the Galaxy Note 20 comes to the finish line first, spending less time than the iPhone 11 to relaunch apps.
Yes, the difference in app loading time between the smartphones can’t be called critical – it’s a matter of seconds. However, this video perfectly proves at least two facts to us.
First, iOS is in no way more efficient at consuming RAM than Android. Certainly, the Galaxy Note 20 has three times more RAM than the iPhone 11, but this only confirms the claim that iPhones need a quality boost.
Secondly, although the RAM does not affect the performance of the system as such, it allows you to speed up the launch of applications. After all, if they are already in the background, the smartphone does not have to spend time loading them again.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that the 4GB that the iPhone 11 has is three times less than the 12GB of the Galaxy Note 20. That’s a pretty big gap. However, you have to realize that all the fan claims that the iPhone will perform better with less RAM than any Android smartphone is not true.
Both here and there, each application in the background takes plus or minus 150 MB. That is, iOS has no special advantages over Android. So let’s face it: the more RAM a smartphone has, the better.