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Why do all the new Android flagships need 24GB of RAM?

Published Aug 15th, 2023 7:08PM EDT
Red Magic 8S Pro+ gaming smartphone from Nubia comes with 24GB of RAM.
Image: Nubia

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We’ve yet to see whether Apple will bump up the RAM of iPhone 15 Pro models to 8GB or stick with 6GB across the board. Meanwhile, Android vendors are moving beyond the 16GB memory that even seemed like overkill a few years ago. The next target appears to be 24GB of RAM, and in the coming months, several new phones from China will feature as much RAM as a top-of-the-line MacBook Air. Why do we need that much RAM on a smartphone?

24GB RAM Android phones are here

Samsung leaker Ice Universe translated a teaser for the upcoming OnePlus Ace 2 Pro last week, revealing that 24GB is about to be the new norm for Chinese Android flagships. The Ace 2 Pro will be one of the first, featuring a 24GB LPDDR5X package.

A day later, the leaker also shared a teaser from Xiaomi for the Redmi K60 Ultra, which will ship with 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage:

Xiaomi unveiled the Redmi K60 Ultra on Wednesday alongside the new Mix Fold 3 foldable. Interestingly, the foldable doesn’t have 24GB of RAM, but the K60 Ultra does.

The Ultra is a flagship phone featuring a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. The 24GB version will cost under $500 in China. There’s no telling when the phone will hit international markets.

Before these two, the Red Magic 8S Pro+ gaming phone launched last month, rocking a 24GB/1TB configuration similar to the Redmi handset.

What 24GB of memory can do

So why do we need that much memory on phones with high-end specs?

It’s apparently about a better overall mobile experience where the phone can keep multiple apps in memory for days. Gadgets360 picked up the OnePlus Ace 2 Pro teaser a few days ago. The Chinese vendor said on Weibo that it’ll use 24GB of SK Hynix RAM to keep up to 54 apps active at once. The alternative is having up to 41 apps running in the background for 72 hours.

That sounds impressive and unnecessary. I can’t help but wonder why you’d want to do that. Not to mention the likely toll on the battery life. Then again, LPDDR5X should be more efficient.

The OnePlus Ace 2 Pro should launch later this week, by the way.

iPhone 15 Pro render reveals the design of Apple's 2023 phone.
iPhone 15 Pro render reveals the design of Apple’s 2023 phone. Image source: Ian Zelbo/9to5Mac

Does that mean the Galaxy S24 Ultra and other flagships will rock 24GB of RAM? I’d be tempted to say that Samsung won’t go as high. But then again, who knows?

I have two other potential answers that could explain why Android vendors are boosting RAM this year. They could be doing it as a marketing gimmick. That 24GB of RAM sounds amazing.

iPhone 15 Pro fears kicking in?

But maybe they’re doing it to better compete against the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.

Apple is about to introduce the 3nm A17 Bionic chip with the iPhone 15 Pros. No other smartphone will offer 3nm chips for the foreseeable future, not even the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Apple has acquired TSMC’s entire capacity for the first year.

That means the iPhone 15 Pro models will have the fastest and most efficient chip. Maybe the best way to compete with the next-gen iPhones is to triple or quadruple the RAM. Again, some iPhone 15 models might come with 6GB of memory. Others might have 8GB of RAM.

Whatever the case, we’ll have to wait for all these devices to hit stores before we can see speed tests comparing the iPhone 15 Pros to Android handsets rocking 24GB of RAM.

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.