One of Android’s key strengths is how it handles multitasking. The ability to leave one or more apps running in the background and be able

Multitasking on budget Android smartphones

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Android Multitasking Budget

One of Android’s key strengths is how it handles multitasking. The ability to leave one or more apps running in the background and be able to switch back to them is priceless in a number of use case scenarios. If you have been used to doing this, switching to a budget Android smartphone (in this case, specifically any Android smartphone with RAM of 512 MB or less) can be a little jarring. What you quickly find out is that there is very little multitasking that goes on there, thanks to the low RAM. Usually, when you leave an app and launch another on such a device, chances are that the previous app is shut down at some point. When you return to it, it is opened up all over again.

Multitasking is not quite important to the vast majority of smartphone users. However, it has an impact on the user experience in this case. Low RAM means that you will notice delays in user interaction. It also means that if the app in question requires internet access, e.g. web browser, data is loaded afresh, increasing your data spending.

Of course, as more high end features filter to the budget segment, we can hopefully expect to see more budget Android smartphones with 768MB and 1GB of RAM. After all, years ago, many budget Android smartphones were equipped with only 256MB of RAM. Android OS was launched on the T-mobile G1 in 2008 with just 192MB of RAM. Yes; Android smartphones have come a long way.

If you need a budget Android smartphone and need passable multitasking, if possible, look for one with at least 768MB of RAM. If you cannot, no problems; you still get all the benefits of Android, but just with the above-listed limitations.

  1. My first Android device was a 512mb. Coming from a Symbian Nokia 5800 with a different /better memory management, I was so pissed that I wrote http://is.gd/fIG6y3

    Having used a device with 1 Gigabyte of RAM for a while, some of my complaints, then, still persist, to a lesser degree. You can not be absolutely certain that a particular app, running in the background, would still be open when you come back to it.

    It would appear that you simply need oodles of memory to enjoy multitasking properly, the Symbian Way.. rock solid.

    But with Google promising that Kitkat (and above) versions of the Android OS would be able to run well on devices with paltry RAM, there is hope things would get better. Already, the ability to compile Android apps, using ART, is yielding dividends. Apps will simply be able to make optimal use of less memory, running faster in the process too.

    Good news to all users of budget Android phones.

  2. Good news to all users of budget Android phones

    Correction: Good news to all future users of budget Android phones. I can’t imagine any existing budget Android devices will be getting KitKat, save for the Moto G which happens to run on 1 GB of RAM

  3. MuyoSan, you are obviously putting too much faith in books with titles like, ‘The Wisdom Of The Ancients’.

    Who says that, in a year’s time, Tecno can’t be sooo popular that there would be custom ROMs, fashioned out of KitKat, running nicely on a device with just 512Mb RAM.

    You should NEVER Say NEVER!!!

  4. It could be that some versions of Android were better configured to handle low RAM devices better than others. My first Android device had 512MB of RAM but was doing quite well with multitasking. One reason for this may be the fact that apps are progressively getting more complex in functionality which also means bigger apps sizes and more resource requirements which has seen a few applications either drop support for older Android operating systems (which by extension implies older devices in some cases) or maintain different versions of the app for different Android operating system. My major gripe with the device then was the very limited internal memory for app installation.

    I hope newer low-end Android device will be equipped with 1GB of RAM or at least 768MB, even with the promise of KitKat and later Android versions improving on memory/resource management and general performance.

  5. I recently flashed a 4.4.2 custom rom on my phone with 512mb ram and it’s much more better than JB on a 512mb ram and multitasking is ok but not great so seems like Google’s promise is true but even with that, I believe the standard for low-end androids should be at least 768mb.

  6. I really find it amusing when we are talking about the mass market and people start talking about custom ROMs. Those are exclusively techie/geeky solutions, and hence niche.

  7. MuyoSan, if you are knowledgeable enough to worry, and be particular about, OTA updates, then you are a candidate for custom ROMs

    That apart, how many people are using custom ROMs? We may not be able to say, precisely. See http://www.dailytech.com/Quick+Note+CyanogenMod+Hits+5+Million+Users/article31555.htm

    You could be surprised that quite many people do, just like many many people download and use apps.

    If many people are not using (gearing up to use /) custom ROMs, how did CyanogenMod Inc get investors to put down cold cash, and form a full blown company?

    See…

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/18/cyanogen-mod-7m-benchmark/

    http://phandroid.com/2013/12/19/cyanogenmod-funding/

  8. // // I really find it amusing when we are talking about the mass market and people start talking about custom ROMs. Those are exclusively techie/ geeky solutions, and hence niche.//

    My mentor loves to say, ‘if you want to know what the future holds, look at things through the eyes of a baby.’

    YOU could, if you wish, adapt, saying, ‘if you want to know what the mobile future holds, look at things through the eyes of a Mobile Baby’ . A baby like eye_bee_kay.

    This is not amusing, na serious mata so stop that mirth, Mr Mo.

    CyanogenMod would soon de_niche_fy amusing democratize the use of custom ROMs..

  9. Its actually funny when people talk about mass market and os upgrade and conveniently leave out custom roms.
    A real noob does not care about os upgrade. A good case in point are so many ladies around me using android phones. They care less if its using gingerbread or kitkat as long at it supports the apps they need.
    Just like ibk said, when someone begins to care about os upgrades, then they will begin to care about custom roms, go check nairaland for proof (we are talking non techy geeks here).
    For android, concerns about os upgrade is gradually encroaching into the mass market, so is using of custom rom.
    If custom roms is still niche, then os upgrades is also niche. I believe the two now go together.

  10. Some good points you raised there @bily. People who care so much about operating system upgrades probably know a thing or two about rooting and custom ROMs. Even for iOS users with Apple’s reputation for operating system updates on yearly bases, there are so many people I know who own iPhone 4s still on the original iOS version that it came with and are not even bothered or probably not aware of iOS updates.

    Some of them still don’t even update their installed applications just to show how much aware these people are.

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