Android vs iOS: what are the differences in their management of the RAM?

as Google Pixel XL , Samsung Galaxy S7 and Asus Zenfone 3 all versions with 4 GB of RAM, offer the iPhone 7 was released in October with 2 GB of RAM (3 GB on iPhone 7 more). This brings all we ask how smartphones, at the same price and see more expensive, may offer virtually the same performance with so distinct physical characteristics. This, in fact, supports the idea that the iOS platform is a more optimized than Android platform. However, things are not exactly as they seem.

What is RAM?

Before going further, we must define exactly what is RAM and what it does. RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of technology that accesses files stored on your computer or your smartphone. Unlike a hard drive memory, RAM does not permanently content store. However, it is responsible to read the content when the system needs. So, more a device has RAM, plus the ability of memory to work is important, but it is not necessarily faster.

Given that smartphones are devices that have limited memory, there is a slight difference between the way in which they use the RAM and how computers use. Yet, the final goal is basically the same: provide instructions and data to the processor so that they are treated, in order to reduce the loading time and allow us to switch from one application to another quickly and efficiently.

Finally, the RAM should not be confused with the storage of a phone. Internal and external storage will be always more important than the RAM, in 16, 32, 64 or 128 GB. Today, smartphones like the Zenfone 3 Deluxe in stock version can hold up to 6 GB of RAM.

Android vs iOS: what are the differences in their management of the RAM?

In order to make the management of the RAM by Android easier to understand, I’ll use the explanation of Gary Sims ( video here ), editor at Android Authority. In a recent video, Gary has used a Nexus 5 X (2 GB of RAM + the latest version of Android) and a iPhone 7 (2 GB RAM + the latest version of iOS), in order to show the similarities and differences between the management of RAM on each of the operating systems.

The first thing he discovered, at restarting both devices, that is the iPhone 7 uses more RAM than the Nexus 5 X. This, in practice, dispels the myth that “Android uses more memory than iOS’. In order to understand what this means exactly, I must explain what the ‘free RAM ‘.

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the free RAM in itself is not very important, what really matters is the available RAM. © Android Authority

means free RAM?

According to Gary, in the past, computers used part of their RAM only for the operating system and the other to run programs and data. Today, things are a little more complicated because of multitasking and virtual memory. The latter allows each program (application) to run in its own virtual space. In the case of Android and IOS, well, a part of memory is allocated to the system, but the other is divided and used by each application. So any RAM that is not used is named free.

However, free RAM does not translate effectiveness, on the contrary in fact. Thus, a good operating system doesn’t have free RAM, but the available RAM. He knows how to handle my RAM for things like cache storage. For example, when you reuse an application, she quickly opens and displays the last screen you were. This does not mean that it doesn’t have free memory, which in itself has no meaning, since the system will always use RAM to move data. iOS and Android are as effective in this area.

To return to the comparison between the use of the RAM on Android and iOS, after restarting the devices, the iPhone 7 had 730 MB of available memory, while the Nexus 5 X was still 840 MB on a total of 2 GB.

Android vs iOS: RAM usage by running the same applications

another test sought to show the performance of RAM on both systems running the same application. Observing the results, there is a difference of use of RAM by applications developed for Android, but it does not, for example, the huge disparity between the amount of RAM available on the iPhone 7 and Zenfone 3 Deluxe, which can hold up to 4 GB.

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iOS vs Android: RAM usage by running the same applications (more light, the better they EST. © Android Authority

here, however, it is important to note that applications developed for iOS are half the size of those developed for Android.) Nevertheless, the way in which Google and Apple handle applications, how they are made to how they behave in the background, makes this much more complicated problem than to know what is the system that uses more RAM.

For example, Android apps are freer, meaning that they can access services or perform a post-processing when running in the background. On the one hand, it’s a good thing, on the other hand, it’s bad for users but it is they who will have to analyse if an application installed on their devices way more that it helps them. Apple has a strategy much more controlled in this sense, and is able to choose whether an application can do something or not when it is running in the background.

All this leads me to the last thing Android Authority editor observed:

Android vs iOS: two effective technologies in the management of RAM

in fact, the use and management of the RAM on the two operating systems are quite similar and effective, one of the main differences being how each platform manages the behavior of applications in the background. With a much deeper analysis, it is possible to see how these two experiences differ.

While the operating system Android (Linux-based) chooses to stop applications running in the background, when available memory is exhausted, in order to free up space for a new app, iOS, meanwhile, can compress more data of the applications running in the background that Android at the level of the system. Ultimately, this means that Apple can load more applications before they must be stopped.

I won’t go into the technical details of this process, but I’ll use the same example Gary to show how Android opens an application displaying the last screen used, even after she had been arrested: If you close the browser when it is restarted, the last page on which you are displayed. This is because the system records the URL and not the page itself. This happens because Android has a mechanism that notifies applications running in the background to save the most important information because the use of the RAM is important and that the application is about to be closed. This means that the application maintains that what is really important and charge the same ‘image’ in the future.

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schema showing the judgment of an application running in the background due to heavy use of RAM. © Android Authority

as a result, Google and the rest of the manufacturers will always choose to have more RAM in their devices in order to conserve and better manage processes in use, without having to stop all the time. If we take a look at the Android Smartphone market, we have proof. Now, the solution from Apple is the sharing of software, in other words, a less dependent on material. They use methods different but also smart, to manage the same limitation.

Honestly, I have had problems of management of RAM on my devices a few times. However, it is clear that having more RAM on a device makes it more expensive, with a few exceptions like the Quantum Fly, Zenfone 3 and the LG G4.

To view the full video as well as explanations of Gary Sims on this topic, click here. The video is in English, but you can easily activate the subtitles in french on YouTube. Have a good time!

Which of these solutions makes more sense in your user experience?

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