Mr Phone speaks – Does Android use more memory (RAM) than iOS?

Android against iOS

No doubt Android and iOS have taken all over the smartphone market. There may be times when you would get into a fight on which is better android or iOS. One of the most common allegations made on Android is that it uses more memory(RAM) than iOS. Well is it true?? Let me explain.

Updating the basics!

Before getting into the discussion remember that we are talking about the Random Access Memory(RAM) and not the internal storage of the devices.

I would like to introduce you to some terms that you might not have heard of before getting into anything. There is no such term as free RAM as if a particular section of RAM is empty then it is used for caching and buffer management purposes.

  So, the free RAM may be negligible when compared to the total size of the RAM. We will use the term available RAM for the unallocated RAM. When app requests for a residence in the main memory, the OS in the RAM is responsible for allocating the available space (if exists) to the designated app. The amount of RAM used by an application in memory is called the Resident Set Size(RSS). So, let’s move on.

Google has shut down the Zooper app and you MUST see this if you use an Android!

RAM

Is Android really a culprit here?

It’s been a trend that Android devices come with more RAM packed into them than the iOS devices. For this comparison, we will be using iPhone 7 and Google Nexus 5x as both have the same amount of RAM(2 Gigs each). First of all, we will check the amount of RAM used by both devices just after booting up. It is surprising that the Nexus 5x has around 840 MB of available RAM whereas iPhone 7 has about 740 MB available RAM. Remember, this is when the phone loaded it’s OS on the RAM and the phone hasn’t been touched since! 

iPhone 7 RAM

Next, we will run some tests on both the phones by running basic applications like Subway Surfers, Temple Run 2, Facebook etc. On running these tests I found that Android uses about 6% more RAM than iOS at an average.

Yes, it is true that Android uses more memory than iOS. We cannot deny this fact but it does not justify the Android devices coming with almost double the amount of RAM. This just got interesting right? Let’s dig furthermore.

One of the most important factors that add-up the awesomeness of the smartphone line up is multitasking. The efficiency of the phone is measured in terms of how many apps can it run in the background. When you switch between applications, the user expects the application to start where it was left off in the previous stable state.

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What if the user did not use the application for over a week? Will you expect the application to start where you left it a week ago or to get a fresh start? This totally depends on the user experience, so, you may not find a consistent answer to this question. After all this digging, a question arises what if an application requesting the memory is not available is occupied by the foreground and the background applications?

This question leads to a new concept called swapping. If the resources requested are not available then the OS performs swap procedures to flush the applications onto the hard disk and free up the required space. This is a common feature you would see on Laptops and desktops. Unfortunately smartphones are not efficient enough to perform this procedure.So, the manufacturers have come up with different ways to manage the swapping in the RAM.

Method by Android:

RAM on Android

Android uses the concept of compressed swapping. This is a bit different from the traditional swapping you see on the computer systems. Basically what it does is groups a bunch of applications and compresses them like a zip file into the RAM to free up space. This helps in efficient memory management but will need a larger memory which in turn justifies the memory conditions in Android devices.

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Method by Apple:

Apple uses a totally different concept called compression. Apple uses some kind of compression for an individual application so that they use minimum memory when in the background. Applications like Subway surfers which use around 300 MB  RAM in foreground use memory as low as 10 MB when in the background (figures may vary). Apple has not disclosed how it does this but I gotta say I’m pretty impressed with this technique!!

At last, the topic comes back to the square, which is better Android or iOS?? This battle will go on endlessly as we cannot point on which one is better. Both the methods are a solution to a single problem. One may be better than the other in many ways. I hope this makes the topic of memory consumption on both the devices pretty clear.  

Did I solve your questions? Was this knowledge valuable to you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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