Smartphone Performance: Is RAM size or processor speed more important?

If smartphone performance is important to you, the key items you need to pay attention to when picking a smartphone for use are processor speed and RAM. Together, they decide the performance of your phone. But they do so in different ways.

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The first step is to spell out what the processor clock speed and RAM do in a smartphone. Remember that while they are complementary, each affects performance in a different way.

Processor Speed

The processor clock speed is what indicates how powerful a smartphone is – and how fast/smooth it will run. The newer the processor and the higher the clock speed, the more powerful the smartphone is for heavy duty. So, all other things being equal, a 3 GHz processor smartphone is more powerful than one with a 2.3 GHz processor.

So, if you need a smartphone for gaming or for other heavy tasks, you should be looking for a smartphone with higher clock speeds.

RAM Size

More RAM enhances multi-tasking. The more RAM a phone has, the smoother it is to launch and switch between apps. More RAM does not make your phone faster. Let me put it differently: the more RAM your smartphone has, the better it can switch between apps and do multiple things at once.

If you are an app junkie and switch between multiple apps a lot, you will suffer on a smartphone with 2 GB RAM. I promise you. You will likely run into a lot of “out of memory” errors or of apps shutting down in the background. Definitely, when switching between apps, you will experience slower transitions.

Smartphone Performance Example

So, together, the processor speed and RAM size determine how responsive your smartphone behaves, each determining a different dimension.

To illustrate this, let us compare two smartphones with different processor clock speeds and amounts of RAM (all other things equal):

  1. Smartphone One: Quad-core 1.3 GHz with 3 GB RAM
  2. Smartphone Two: Octa-Core 2.2 GHz with 2 GB RAM

Smartphone Two is the more powerful of the two because it has a higher processor speed. But Smartphone One will handle switching between apps or running multiple apps better. However, it will run slower than Smartphone Two. The more powerful device – Smartphone Two – will run smoother.

If we add Smartphone Three with 2.2 GHz processor and 3 GB RAM, it will blow both of the above examples out of the water in terms of performance because it has both the higher clock speed and higher amount of RAM.

Quick Tips For Android Users

  1. If you are an Android OS person, a 1.3 GHz processor is bottom of the barrel. It is low-end. For really good speeds, get 1.8 GHz and above.
  2. As for RAM, if you can afford it, 3 GB is the least you should opt for on Android OS in order to enjoy decent multi-tasking.
  3. Also, note that the more cores a processor has, the more efficient it can run. So an octa-core processor is more efficient than a quad-core processor. See another article of mine, How smartphone processors work, for more details.
  4. Lastly, note that the bigger and sharper the display of your smartphone, the more powerful you need your processor to be, because the processor has more work to do than with a smaller screen. Display size and resolution are some of the factors we refer to when we say “all other things being equal“.

I hope that you understand better the factors that determine smartphone performance, so you can make better purchasing decisions.

Do use the comment section below to let me know if you have any questions or areas you need more light shed on. And do not forget to share this post with your network using the share buttons below.

Smartphone Performance: Is RAM size or processor speed more important?
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Smartphone Performance: Is RAM size or processor speed more important?
If smartphone performance is important to you, Mister Mo explains how processor speed and RAM size affect the performance of devices.
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