RAM is one of the most important components for a smartphone: it allows you to use more apps and get the most out of the device
If you're inquiring because you want to buy a new smartphone, among the many features in the data sheets that you need to pay attention to is the amount of RAM in the phone. It is known, in fact, that having little RAM slows down the smartphone in daily use and makes it unstable if you use very heavy apps. But how much RAM does a smartphone really need today, to run apps well in 2019?
The first smartphones with 12GB of RAM have just been presented on the market, such as the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT or the Vivo APEX 2019, but is it really necessary to have so much memory on a cell phone? Or maybe it would be better to settle for less RAM and focus on other aspects such as the camera, the battery or the software optimization offered by the manufacturer? To answer this question we must first understand how much free RAM a smartphone has and how much of it is occupied by the most popular and used apps. When an Android smartphone runs out of available RAM, in fact, Google's operating system moves part of the RAM content to the phone's storage memory.
What's the use of RAM on a smartphone
A large part of the RAM on any smartphone is always taken up by the operating system, the apps and services that are automatically loaded at startup, and the various features that make up each manufacturer's customization. The rest is for the apps. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8, for example, has 6GB of total RAM but only 50% is actually available for apps. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and OnePlus 6T have 8GB of RAM, leaving about 66% free. But how much RAM do the most used apps consume in 2019?
The amount of RAM used by apps varies considerably: if YouTube takes about 230-250MB, in fact, to run the Chrome browser with just 3 open pages requires 900 MB. In between we find apps such as WhatsApp (250-300MB), Spotify (300MB minimum), Google Photos (no less than 400MB) and Instagram (at least 700MB).
With these numbers in mind we can assume that a smartphone with 12GB of RAM really has about 6-8GB of free fast memory available for apps (if the manufacturer doesn't overdo it with pre-installed apps that load at startup). With 6GB free, you can run just about anything without having slowdowns. But for everyday use, it's very likely that already 4GB free is more than enough, which means we could settle for a smartphone with 8GB and focus on other technical features, such as cameras or storage memory for photos and videos.