RAM: How much do you need for a mobile device?

Continuing my series on what to look for in a mobile device, today I am briefly covering how much RAM you need on a mobile device, like a smart phone, or tablet computer.

RAM is temporary memory used to store data from the Operating System, and any Applications. It’s a bit like a persons working memory, if they were doing a maths equation. Together with screen resolution, CPU speed, and storage speed, it affects how fast your mobile device will run.

The answer really is ‘it depends’. On an Android device with a moderate screen resolution, and a fast CPU, you can get a fluid response with 1 GB of RAM – if you don’t have a lot of apps open at once.  Similarly, with windows in the live tiles screen, 1 GB with a quad core processor can suffice. Running desktop applications however it will not fair so well.

Some screen resolutions are technically above what the eye is supposed to be able to see, and we will cover this soon – but it’s worth noting now that this will effect both speed and battery life.

Optimally, with  a higher screen resolution, or running a lot of apps in Android, or any Desktop applications in Windows, 2 GBs is the gold standard.

The above picture is a comparison from 2012. But it does show what you might get even with a well known brand, if you buy their cheaper older generation hardware – some of those devices are genuinely too slow.

Look for devices with either a fast CPU (such as 2.0Ghz octocore, or 1.8ghz Quad core), moderate screen resolution and 1GB of RAM (depending on your useage pattern), or 2GBs of RAM for full desktop applications or higher screen resolution.