Multitaskers Should Avoid Low Memory Budget Phones

Don’t micromanage how many apps you have running

Key Takeaways

  • Motorola is coming out with yet another budget phone, the Moto G Pure.
  • The Moto G Pure will retail for under $200 and only will include 3GB of RAM and 4G network connections.
  • Experts warn that users who don’t want to micromanage apps should go with budget phones that offer more RAM, as lower RAM phones could suffer from lower performance.
man in black shirt using smartphone

Jonas Leupe / Unsplash

Budget phones that offer lower memory (RAM) amounts can work, but experts say users who don’t want to constantly close apps after use should avoid them.

The world of budget smartphones has absolutely exploded in recent years, with big companies like Samsung, OnePlus, and more offering some fantastic options for users who don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new phone. Not all budget phones are created equal, however, and one way many manufacturers tend to cut down on the price is by lowering the amount of RAM the phone has. Motorola’s upcoming Moto G Pure is a perfect example of this, only offering 3GB of RAM, which might not be enough if you don’t consistently close apps after you use them.

"The amount of RAM a phone has will affect the number of apps [you can load] at one time, and the speed that each app will reload once it has already been started," Paul Walsh, a smartphone repair expert, and director of refurbished technology at WeSellTek, told Lifewire in an email.

"Imagine you have loaded a game but then need to answer an email quickly without shutting the game. The amount of RAM will determine how quickly the game reloads after you have finished answering the email if you did not quit the game app. This is the main effect that RAM has on how smoothly phones run."

Do You Really Need RAM?

For the everyday consumer, the idea behind RAM, short for random access memory, might not seem like an important factor. After all, many of us only think in terms of how good the camera is and how many photos our phone can hold before we have to worry about offloading them to a cloud service of some type.

However, RAM can play a very important part in your phone’s overall performance, especially if you’re someone who spends a lot of time on their phone multitasking.

"If you are actively running [multiple data-intensive] apps constantly, ​then 4GB is probably too low."

RAM in mobile devices works very similarly to how it does in PCs. Essentially, it allows your phone to store data in the RAM, which it can then access much more quickly than it can from the main storage on the device. This lets you hop between apps like email, text messages, Twitter, and other social media along the way. This is why flagship phones, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, tend to come with higher amounts of memory, like 12GB.

In computers, you can easily upgrade RAM if you end up having too little. In smartphones, though, it isn’t that simple, which means you’ll want to choose a phone that has enough RAM to do all the things you need it to do for the next couple of years. 

Bottom line: the more RAM you have, the smoother your device can run with multiple apps open.

How Much RAM is Enough?

Walsh says phones with lower amounts of RAM, like 2GB or 3GB, can work for users, but it isn’t the ideal amount if you plan on using your phone a lot throughout the day.

"If you are actively running [multiple data-intensive] apps constantly, ​then 4GB is probably too low. It will result in your phone being laggy and slow, noticeably so. However, if you are only using one app at a time, and are in the habit of closing each app as soon as you have finished using it, then realistically 4GB is more than enough," Walsh noted.

Of course, more RAM isn’t always better. Sometimes it also comes down to optimization—as seen with speed tests comparing the iPhone XR and Galaxy Note 9 back in 2018. Despite having more RAM, the Note 9 lagged behind the iPhone due to Apple’s optimizations within its operating system.

With budget phones, though, it's possible you aren’t getting the same optimizations you might see on a flagship. So, if you’re looking to purchase a budget phone and you want to make it last as long as possible, going for a device that offers more RAM can save you the trouble of dealing with a laggy phone early on.

Was this page helpful?