Remember how the Android phone manufacturers wanted to beat each other in the mad processor race? Processor cores went up from two to ten in a few years. Similar trend was seen in the screen area. So much that the recent phones can give tablets a run for their money. Now in order to one up each other, the manufacturers have turned to RAM. Phones such as the OnePlus 3, LeEco Le Max 2, ZUK Z2 Pro, Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Vivo Xplay 5 Elite, and Meizu Pro 6 already pack-in 6GB of RAM. That's more than what you get in most laptops. However, is it just a gimmick or something actually useful?
Case against it
Android phone manufacturers have been solving issues with brute force. If the battery does not last long, these people increase its capacity. In case of performance issue, the manufacturers beef-up the processor cores instead of optimising the operating system. Little wonder then, when users complained about Android's poor memory management, the brands went on to add more memory. The problem is that despite packing-in 6GB of RAM, these handsets such as the OnePlus 3 are not that great at multitasking. According to the reports, the so called "flagship killer" can't run more than 3-4 apps simultaneously. The Samsung Galaxy S7, on the other hand, can freeze and resume resource-heavy games without breaking sweat. It is a clear indication that at this point, memory management is more important than simply throwing-in more powerful hardware.
Considering that the every other smartphone user cribs about the battery life these days, adding battery intensive hardware is not a good idea. Look at the iPhones, not a single model has yet surpassed the 2 GB limit, and still Apple's phones run smooth. All this sounds even more absurd when you realise that Windows 10 runs fine on 1GB RAM for the 32-bit version and 2GB RAM for the 64-bit version. Yes, even a full-fledged computer operating system does not require so much RAM. So, while Android fans take a jab at Apple's low-specs, they fail to understand that the iPhone does not require absurdly high specs to run properly. Apple's iOS is optimised to work well with moderate hardware. All in all, what Android needs is fine-tuning more than simply upgrading hardware.
The best case for 6GB RAM is "more the merrier". When you own an Android device, you don't say no to more RAM. Seeing how Android phones have been denied latest updates due to the low specs in the past, complaining about 6GB RAM does not seem like a good idea. You may also remember how similar argument was made when a first wave of Android phones with 2GB RAM hit the market a few years back. Fast forward to the present day, and 2GB RAM has become a norm. There is a good chance that 6GB RAM too will be treated as normal in a year or two, so why fight the change.
If you like the technicalities, it is essential to understand the difference between Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system. What makes Android so resource intensive is its Java programming core. On top of that, UI customisation from brands make things even worse. I'm sure many of you must have noticed how some Xiaomi and Samsung phones eat over a GB of RAM just to run the OS. Apple's iOS, on the other hand, is developed from the scratch. Apple's mobile operating system has relatively less junk code, which is why it makes effective use of resources. Optimising software for Android involves multiple factors, so it is easier manufacturers to go the hardware way.
After weighing in both the options, I would say that you don't need to make a buying decision based on the amount of RAM. However, if the phone itself is good, then additional RAM won't hurt. Just don't expect it to perform significantly better than phones with relatively less RAM.
Chandrakant Isi has been covering all-things-tech for over 10 years. He is a sci-fi aficionado, wannabe space explorer, and Content Lead at MySmartPrice.com. He hates writing about himself in third person....