Samsung has recently announced the new Galaxy S20 range. The flagships of the Korean house will have an incredible amount of RAM: 8 GB and 12 GB.
But which smartphone needs so much RAM? "
Android, the operating system installed on the Samsung Galaxy S20, is the most successful operating system in the world for one reason: it is light and versatile enough to work on billions of smartphones and tablets, most of which are not equipped with 8 GB of RAM. or more.
The Android apps that we will run on the Galaxy S20 will be designed for most Android devices with limited RAM capacity. This basically boils down to the fact that it is very unlikely that we will need those 8 GB of RAM, unless we are doing something similar to recording 8K videos, which although it is a nice feature, it is not widely used by people.
Why did Samsung go too far with RAM?
So why did Samsung pack the Galaxy S20 range with so much RAM? The answer is simple, to distinguish your phones from those of its competitors.
By including a lot of RAM, Samsung will aim to convince consumers that its phones are better than the iPhone, for example, because they have more RAM.
And let's face it, the design and innovation of today's smartphones is practically non-existent. For this reason, smartphone manufacturers are trying to find alternative ways to encourage the potential buyer to change devices every two years but they are running out of ideas. If our phone still works well (and unless it's a Windows Mobile phone), then why spend money on a new phone?
That's why smartphone manufacturers are pushing towards immature solutions to say the least, see folding smartphones that are excessively expensive, offer no real advantage and are plagued by various problems.
The same goes for RAM. Samsung hopes that those who own a smartphone with 2 or 3 GB of memory think that with 8 or 12 GB of RAM the overall performance will improve. Call, control WhatsApp, play Pokémon Go much faster. when, of course, it won't be.
What's the problem?
However, if Samsung wants to put 8 GB or 12 GB into its flagship smartphone, what's the problem? While Samsung is obviously allowed to do whatever it wants with its products (as long as they don't explode), there is something to discuss.
Putting a lot of RAM into a smartphone is not cheap and the Samsung Galaxy S20 is priced at € 929, € 1029 and € 1379 it is one of the most expensive smartphones ever.
They are around € 100 more than the selling price of Galaxy S10 and much of that high price is due to RAM. This means that Samsung is raising prices by aiming for something that people won't use.
However, there are also more serious long-term repercussions. A lot of RAM could encourage developers to make their apps more expensive and ultimately less optimized.
We have seen something very similar happen in computer science. The Amiga A500 was a fantastic device that had some of the best games and tools of its time. It mounted a tiny 512 KB RAM and no hard drives and had to rely on 1,44 MB floppy disks.
These constraints led to some of the most innovative games and applications ever made, with stunning graphics and sound for the time. For anyone who had to download a 50 GB game (or install one a disk) and then download a 10 GB day-one patch, the idea that an entire finished game could be put on a 1,44 floppy disk (or 12 of these such as Monkey Island 2) seems like a utopia right now.
But the point is that if most phones start to have 12 GB of RAM, bet that apps and operating systems will start using that amount of RAM. In some cases, it will involve adding fantastic new features. In others, however, it will simply mean that the software will not be optimized as it was previously and is something nobody wants.