Smartphones are becoming more powerful but it isn’t by magic. Platforms like Android and iOS offer new features but also require newer hardware that supports those features. As software grows, however, it might become necessary to actually require more powerful hardware even in the most constrained circumstance. That is probably why Google is reportedly setting the baseline for Android phones at 2GB of RAM, at least if they want to ship with Google’s apps and services.
A leaked configuration guide for Android 11’s Go Edition details new requirements that Google will practically be imposing on manufacturers. The most basic is that any phone that will be running a standard Android configuration with Google Mobile Services will require more than 2GB of RAM. In fact, any phone that wants to have Google Play preloaded will need to have more than 512MB RAM, setting the bar higher for the first time in years.
The requirements for Android Go are likewise changing. Previously, this specific configuration designed for resource-constrained devices was only meant for those with 1GB RAM or less. Now any Android phone with 2GB or less MUST launch as an Android Go device.
The wording here is rather curious. While Android Go has always been recommended for these entry-level phones, Google has never made it mandatory. Now it will be requiring OEMs to use Android Go for low-memory phones, using Google Mobile Services as its bargaining chip. Of course, it could also raise Android Go phones’ profile as more usable and more reliable devices, though it could also raise their prices as well.
To be clear, only new phones launching with Android 11 or even Android 10 starting in Q4 2020 will be required to follow these new guidelines. That said, XDA does warn that the leak goes back to April and Google may have changed its tone.