What are the most common RAM specs for smartphones?

While 2GB of RAM is enough for iOS to work smoothly, Android devices need more memory. If you’re stuck with an older Android phone with less than 2 gigs of RAM, you are likely to experience OS hiccups even during typical daily tasks. According to the most recent statistics from DeviceAtlas, this is the reality for a lot of phone users today.

How much RAM is enough?

The general rule is that the more space in RAM, the more efficient file processing is and, as a result, the faster the device behaves in most tasks. The reason for this is that the CPU can’t access files directly from storage. Files stored in RAM are CPU-optimized and queued for rapid access.

A smartphone with more RAM will perform better than the one with less RAM in most cases mainly due to the fact that a lot of files need to “sit” in RAM at all times. This is particularly visible in multitasking when you switch between apps and expect the one in the background to continue running in case you want to pick up where you left off rather than opening the app again.

But how much RAM is enough for a smartphone in 2017?

Lao Shi, an executive at Huawei, said recently that 4GB of RAM is plenty for a phone to run smoothly. He argues that companies should focus on optimizing the OS rather than adding more RAM which only increases the cost of the device. iOS is optimized to run smoothly with only 2GB of RAM and this should be the case for Android too.

However, what strikes me the most in the said quote from the Huawei executive is inadvertently admitting that phones with less than 4GB of RAM may not run smoothly. The vast majority of Android devices used today have a lot less than 4GB of RAM.

RAM specs in the most recent releases

Adding more RAM to the newly released devices is understandable given that in the tight Android market it takes a lot of effort to differentiate your device and RAM seems like a viable option. Especially when the difference in the amount of RAM is likely to affect performance.

While 1GB-1.5GB of RAM or less was the standard for smartphones and feature phones for many years, in 2012, the competition to increase RAM specs began to ramp up significantly.

The first ever smartphone to offer 2GB of RAM was the LG Optimus LTE2 released in 2012. Then, in 2015, the first ever 4GB phone was released (Asus Zenfone 2), soon followed by the first ever 6GB phone (Vivo Xplay 5 — 2016) and the first ever 8GB phone (Asus ZenFone AR — 2017).

At the same time, fewer devices with 512MB of RAM were released in consecutive years.

Releases Phones with 500MB RAM Phones with less than 500MB RAM
2014 174 30
2015 96 19
2016 36 2

Source: GSMArena

Most common RAM amounts are 1GB or 2GB

The recent RAM race makes you think that most users today enjoy enough RAM for smooth OS operation, gaming, multimedia, and other power-intensive tasks. However, it looks like the lifespan of smartphones with little RAM is a lot longer than we think.

According to DeviceAtlas statistics, the most typical RAM amount is between 1GB and 2GB which is enough in the iOS world but not necessarily in the Android world. In fact, 0.5GB of RAM phones have a large share in many countries, including Colombia, Nigeria, or Brazil where it reaches around 10%.

Phones with 4GB of RAM or more have up to 12% of share in some countries, including Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the USA.

The following charts show you the share of mobile web traffic for devices offering between 0.5GB and 4GB of RAM (or more) based on web traffic stats collected by DeviceAtlas in Q2 2017.


Looking to better understand smartphone hardware?

In order to get a better understanding of which smartphone hardware is the most common today you may want to download the latest DeviceAtlas report. The new study covers a number of important characteristics of the mobile market, including chipsets, GPUs, SIM slots, viewport sizes, diagonal screen sizes, and a lot more.

All statistics are based on web traffic to a network of partner websites using DeviceAtlas for content delivery and web optimization. Click the link below to download your .pdf copy.

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