I don’t get why Android phones have so much ram.

They often have more ram than my wife’s MacBook and the same or my as my desktop.

How much ram is needed if you’re not gaming or video editing?

In my case, it’s a very occasional picture or video recorded and then just social media apps and web. Do I need to get a phone with 12gb? Or is that just thrown in there for marketing?

  • woelkchen@lemmy.world
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    6 months ago

    They often have more ram than my wife’s MacBook

    Entry-level MacBooks come with a pathetic amount of RAM.

    How much ram is needed if you’re not gaming or video editing?

    Web browsing needs RAM everywhere. High resolution displays need video memory which isn’t dedicated memory in phones but comes from overall RAM.

    Do I need to get a phone with 12gb?

    You need notebooks and desktop PCs with at least 16GB.

    • Possibly linux@lemmy.zip
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      6 months ago

      16gb is fine if you can afford it and you are doing lots of thinks on your computer but isn’t necessary if you just have a few tabs on a budget machine.

      • BearOfaTime@lemm.ee
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        6 months ago

        I would never spec a Windows machine with less than 16.

        Even for a casual user. The problems it causes aren’t worth saving $50.

      • woelkchen@lemmy.world
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        6 months ago

        If I was able to upgrade a 4GB notebook to 16GB ten years ago for little money, it’s not a budget matter (unless it’s Apple who charge insane amounts of money for 16GB).

    • henfredemars@infosec.pub
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      6 months ago

      As an owner of a second hand entry level Macbook, it’s constantly swapping. You don’t notice it that much because today’s SSDs are very fast, but undoubtedly this will affect the lifetime of the device and reflects a poor choice in memory specifications.

    • hoshikarakitaridia@sh.itjust.works
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      6 months ago

      I would respectfully disagree with the last point. For Joe Schmoe who is just scrolling Reddit you will probably be fine with 8-12gb, especially if you intend to cut down on your budget.

      • woelkchen@lemmy.world
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        6 months ago

        For Joe Schmoe who is just scrolling Reddit you will probably be fine with 8-12gb, especially if you intend to cut down on your budget.

        Joe Schmoe cutting down on budget shouldn’t throw away money on MacBooks then. I had a low-end notebook 10 years ago that I upgraded for little to 16GB RAM 10 years ago.

        Video memory is shared with main RAM on “Joe Schmoe” notebooks. It’s really noticeable when a few browser tabs are open. Source: Me when I had an 8GB RAM HP notebook with an iGPU.

        • icedterminal@lemmy.world
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          6 months ago

          Linux uses half the RAM Windows does in a fresh install. 8GB can absolutely be done on a Linux system without worry. To aid systems with 4-8GB RAM, Windows compresses. This has allowed OEMs to ship systems with 8GB as a minimum. This just isn’t enough for multitasking. The CPU is tasked with constantly compressing and decomposing if you’re attempting to multitask. This can make an already cheap laptop feel a little more sluggish. 16GB has always been the minimum for gaming systems and these days it’s becoming apparent 32GB is needed. 8GB is just pitiful for a computer these days.


          Addressing the OP, mobile devices used to only need 2-4GB for the longest time. The OS wasn’t that heavy because the ARM CPU could only do so much. As the CPUs improved, higher resolutions were used, prettier animations and more features got added. This all needs more RAM. Android developer options will tell you how much RAM you’re using. A feature of Android is to keep a process cached in RAM that’s been recently used. This is present to aid in battery life. Even if you swipe the app away from recents list, a portion is cached so the next time you start it, the CPU doesn’t have to work as hard to load it up. You can see this under Running services > Cached processes. This means it’s more beneficial for the mobile device to have more RAM.

          • Moonrise2473@feddit.it
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            6 months ago

            The point isn’t that 8gb is unusable for light tasks. I have a $300 Lenovo with Windows and 8gb RAM and I don’t see any problems.

            The point is that a $1500 premium device should come with 16gb RAM at minimum, because for the manufacturer the cost is almost nothing. Yes, Apple makes much more money selling extra 8gb of RAM for $300 rather than just put a 16gb chip for literally pennies and adsorb the cost but that’s because they’re scammers

          • Case@lemmynsfw.com
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            6 months ago

            I mean, 8 gigs of RAM is overkill depending on what you’re doing.

            For general computing sure, but if you build out a device for a specific purpose, you can really cut down on a crap ton of resources including memory.

            Unix principle, adopted by Linux. Do one thing and do it well.

            Applies to more than just software design.

  • Skull giver@popplesburger.hilciferous.nl
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    6 months ago

    Phones are developed to store as much in RAM as possible. Storage is slow, and users are expected to switch between apps constantly. It’s not uncommon for hundreds of apps to be loaded, including their state, at the same time. Apps that don’t fit into memory are saved to storage, but the most common apps and services are kept around.

    Common files are also cached in memory for performance reasons. If you don’t have any RAM available, browsing files or photos would be terribly slow.

    The GPU shares RAM on many devices, and that’ll take a significant chunk out of your system memory. Rendering 60 frames per second on a 1440p screen isn’t cheap, especially if you have ten different apps ready to render full screen at all times.

    My phone has about 4½GB assigned to applications, the rest is cache. I’d say phones with less than 6GB of RAM would work, but not very smoothly.

    The more RAM, the easier switching between apps becomes. Websites and apps have become huge, not only because of inefficiencies but also because of how huge the graphics they need to render have become, and the expectation that everything works with a smooth 60-90-120Hz all the time. Do you need 12GB? Hard for me to tell. I can tell that my phone’s 6GB struggles when Firefox is open while Youtube is playing and I need to switch to my password manager. It’ll hold out, but only just, one more app and Firefox gets unloaded. Then again, my password manager seems to be suffering from some kind of memory leak, because there’s no reason it would need this much RAM.

    I don’t know what Macbook you have, but if someone is buying a laptop these days, I wouldn’t recommend getting anything with less than 16GB of RAM or an upgrade slot. Web browsers have become operating systems of their own and buying 8GB laptops now will make your device last less than five years, at least comfortably. I would personally advocate for 32GB or more if you’re planning on using your laptop for ten years, based on current trends.

    Even still, many people can and do use phones the wag they did desktops ten years ago. It’s not surprise to me that phones have grown to have desktop class RAM specs. Many people don’t know about it, but you van hook up a Samsung phone to a monitor and have a fully featured desktop right there waiting for you in DeX, you just need a Bluetooth keyboard+mouse to control it. I bet my parents could use a phone as a desktop without ever running into any trouble, partially because of how much RAM those phones sport.

    If all you need is basic browsing and social media, you can go with 6GB of RAM, or even less. As time goes on, your phone will start to struggle with the ever growing websites and apps, but it’ll keep doing what it always did, you just see a few more loading screens when switching between apps. Any €350 phone will do fine for most people these days, I don’t get why people spend three or four times that on a phone if all they do on it is browse social media.

  • I Cast Fist@programming.dev
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    6 months ago

    Because software bloat grows faster than storage and RAM sizes. Remember when Android phones had 1GB RAM and felt fast? Roughly 12 years ago. For what most people use their phones for, those old phones would still be perfectly usable, but gotta bloat the software because fuck you

  • 9point6@lemmy.world
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    6 months ago

    Rule of thumb in 2024:

    • 8GB is a good place for a phone
    • 16GB is a okay place for a computer that doesn’t do anything heavy duty (basically just web browsing and word processing)
    • 32GB is the minimum for a computer doing anything heavy.

    I’m probably going to go up to 64GB on my desktop soon

    • M500@lemmy.mlOP
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      6 months ago

      I’m not doing anything particularly heavy on my desktop and I’m pushing 8-10gb while in zoom meetings?

      • 9point6@lemmy.world
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        6 months ago

        You don’t want to max out your ram with running applications, modern operating systems are designed to have several gigabytes of cached stuff in the memory next to your applications. You will be experiencing less than Ideal performance (and in some cases, quite abysmal performance) if your application usage is brushing up against your capacity.

        A good rule of thumb is when you’re running your heaviest task, you probably still want at least a quarter of your RAM “free” (free memory is not unused).

        If you’re specced at 16GB and the most you’re doing is zoom plus a couple of web pages, then you might be cool for the next couple of years, but I’d not recommend someone buy a new computer with that amount today as software inevitably gets heavier and a new computer shouldn’t only last a few years

    • kratoz29@lemm.ee
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      6 months ago

      Bro, I bought my current MacBook Pro in 2014 with 16 GBs of RAM for “future proof” how is that 10 years later that is the “bare minimum” right now?

      I don’t do anything heavy but tend to let lots of apps run in the background and never close my tabs of Firefox and I never get to use that much RAM, even nowadays, sometimes I also add Parallels running Windows 10 lol.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pub
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      6 months ago

      I agree with this rule of thumb, not because you can’t have a great user experience with less memory, but because memory is relatively cheap these days combined with the popularity of SSDs that have limited write cycles, making swap space even on fast media a much less attractive proposition.

  • catharso
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    6 months ago

    My Pixel 6a has 6GB.

    I’m very happy with it.

    I think 4GB is ok but on the lower end.

    8GB is plenty.

    • cmnybo
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      6 months ago

      I’ve got 6GB in my phone. It’s been plenty for me even though Android eats half of it. The most resource intensive thing I do is use Firefox with a few tabs open though.

      I can’t believe how bloated Android has gotten. My first Android tablet only had 256MB and it ran fine on that. Now my phone uses 3 times more memory than my desktop at boot.

      • woelkchen@lemmy.world
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        6 months ago

        I can’t believe how bloated Android has gotten. My first Android tablet only had 256MB and it ran fine on that.

        Retina resolution graphics need more memory.

        3 times more memory than my desktop at boot.

        Phones don’t have virtual memory and desktop PCs often have dedicated video RAM.

        • TheEntity@kbin.social
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          6 months ago

          Just for the sake of correctness: phones almost definitely do have virtual memory, that’s how any modern memory allocation works. You probably meant swap files/partitions.

    • ramble81@lemm.ee
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      6 months ago

      I had a 4GB phone and after an update, processes were constantly swapping or closing because I was bouncing off the limit. I later got a 6GB phone and I was able to get multiple updates and run more programs without any issues.

  • Cloudless ☼@feddit.uk
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    6 months ago

    Because Android multitasking is inefficient with memory use.

    My Palm Pilot had 512 kB of RAM and it could multi-task properly. When I re-open an app on Palm, I could always get back to EXACTLY where it was left off. Palm OS saves the app state before swapping it out of the RAM.

    Android apps have to completely restart from fresh after being closed. It multi-tasks by keeping apps running in memory. But you are never going to have enough RAM for the apps if you use a variety of apps.

    Samsung’s RAM Plus does something similar, but the apps are not designed to be efficient for virtual memory.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pub
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      6 months ago

      I think inefficient is a matter of perspective. Android has somewhat different goals. For example, Java has been an enormous pain when it comes to memory use, but it provided developers when the platform critically needed attention with its first phones.

      Much work has been done on that front, but today Android places a lot of weight in helping developers write applications quickly, somewhat to the detriment of the specifications.

  • loki@lemmy.ml
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    6 months ago

    Well, Android runs over JVM which runs over Linux. There’s overhead and Android needs to compensate. Add in poor memory management and OEMs that happily kill apps in the background for no good reason (even if you tell them not too), and marketing guys trying to out RAM competitors just so they can release a phone with an “upgrade” every year, you get current Android RAMathon.

  • Kokesh@lemmy.world
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    6 months ago

    My Xiaomi 12 has 8GB. Those bastards close any 3rd open app in the background. Sometimes even the second back in line when switching apps. MIUI is pure shit.

  • limerod@reddthat.comM
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    6 months ago

    Your wife’s macbook and your desktop rely on swap space under pressure while your android will start killing apps.

    As for your question

    How much ram is needed if you’re not gaming or video editing?

    The answer will vary depending on your use case and how long you intend to use your current smartphone and if it will receive future OS upgrades. If you plan to keep the smartphone for longer than 2 years get the higher ram variant with more storage.

    In my case, it’s a very occasional picture or video recorded and then just social media apps and web

    Get at least 8gb of ram smartphone for smooth operation. 6gb is serviceable but it will be a bottleneck down the line in a few years. You don’t necessarily need 12gb of ram. It’s just nice and makes things smooth overall. You have budget smartphones with 12gigs of ram. If the price is not high get it. Otherwise, you should be fine.

  • rbesfe@lemmy.ca
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    6 months ago

    RAM chips are dirt cheap these days, and uninformed consumers will gravitate towards the bigger number even if it doesn’t have a real impact

  • Varyk@sh.itjust.works
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    6 months ago

    Makes a pretty noticeable difference for me on operational speed, but I’m a power user, lots of apps running all the time.

  • 30p87@feddit.de
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    6 months ago

    A gaming phone will obviously need more RAM, that’s why ROG phones etc. have 12 GB or more. I currently have 8 GB, which is definitely more than enough for “normal” gaming, with spotify open in the BG. My old phone had 3 GB, which was OK for gaming, and perfect for other tasks. With newer Android versions and newer system apps that would be different tho. In general, all manufacturers will deliver enough RAM, so you can just ignore that specification in your use case, and focus on support length, size and camera quality.