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iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will be the first iPhones with 6GB of RAM

Updated Oct 16th, 2020 7:01AM EDT
iPhone 12 Pro RAM
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • According to new findings, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be the first iPhones to feature 6GB of RAM.
  • The cheaper iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 will ship with 4GB of RAM, just like the three iPhone 11 version that Apple launched last year.
  • It’s still unclear what sort of memory Apple is using inside the new iPhones. Some Android flagships, including Samsung’s best 2020 phones, have switched to faster, more efficient LPDDR5 RAM.

It’s more likely to hear Voldemort’s name in a Harry Potter movie than to witness Apple officials address RAM and battery specs during iPhone events. Apple will always insist on how powerful the latest processor is compared to previous iPhones and Android, and rightly so. Battery efficiency and battery life improvements will also come up whenever they’re relevant. But Apple will never tell us exactly how much RAM the iPhone packs, or how big the battery is.

Comparatively, Apple will detail RAM when announcing new MacBooks — but not iPads, which it advertises as iPad replacements. Knowing exactly how big the battery is inside a device isn’t necessarily relevant. It’s really a combination of hardware and software that will determine energy efficiency and battery life. But RAM might be important for some buyers. And it turns out that the iPhone 12 Pro will have 6GB of RAM, just as we had suspected all along.

The A-series chips give every iPhone a huge advantage over its Android equivalents. That’s why the newest iPhone turns out to be faster than the newest Android flagships in real-life speed tests. Qualcomm, Samsung, and Huawei are yet to catch up to the A-series chip. In fact, last year’s iPhone is usually still faster than this year’s Android flagship when it comes to processing power. Apple’s tight hardware and software integration makes all that possible.

To make up for that, Android handsets have been receiving massive amounts of RAM in recent years, well beyond what’s really necessary. Those same real-life tests show that the extra RAM helps Android phones keep apps loaded longer than the iPhone does, and that might improve multitasking. We’re still talking about saving insignificant amounts of time regardless of the comparison. A faster chip will shave off milliseconds from app load times, while the extra RAM will do the same thing for multitasking.

Still, with the dawn of 5G, RAM and storage upgrades are also necessary to make up for the faster data speeds. The faster we’ll download content, the more storage we’ll fill up. And the RAM can’t be a bottleneck.

When Samsung announced that the Galaxy S20 would feature LPDDR5 RAM back in February, we told you it’s good news for the iPhone 12. Here’s how Samsung detailed the memory upgrade at the time:

At a data rate of 5,500 megabits per second (Mb/s), the 12Gb LPDDR5 is approximately 1.3 times faster than previous mobile memory (LPDDR4X, 4,266Mb/s) that is found in today’s high-end smartphones. When made into a 12GB package, the LPDDR5 is able to transfer 44GB of data, or about 12 full-HD (3.7GB-sized) movies, in only a second. The new chip also uses up to 30 percent less power than its predecessor by integrating a new circuit design with enhanced clocking, training and low-power feature that ensures stable performance even when operating at a blazingly fast speed.

I explained at the time that Apple would want in on both the speed and efficiency upgrades, especially with the rumored arrival of 5G support. It’s not just that 5G will demand more bandwidth, but it will also consume more energy than 4G. But RAM makers do not make 4GB LPDDR5 modules, so the iPhone would have to jump to 6GB of memory inevitably, I said at the time.

This brings us to MacRumors’ finding that the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max do indeed feature 6GB of RAM. The smaller iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini only have 4GB of memory. The Apple blog got access to plist files from Xcode 12.1 beta, which reveal the finding. Separately, Geekebench test results that got leaked also list 6GB of RAM for the Pro phones. What the leaks don’t reveal is the type of RAM the iPhone 12 Pro Max got. It makes sense to assume it’s LPDDR5 memory, but we’ll have to wait for teardowns to provide additional details.

A comparison from CPU-Monkey tells us the A14 Bionic comes with LPPDR5 RAM, compared to the A12Z Bionic that equips this year’s iPad Pro. This would imply that the new iPad Air and all iPhone 12 phones would rock the faster memory.

Samsung announced in August even faster RAM memory for future mobile devices.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.