The OnePlus 5 has a lot going for it, if you do manage to escape or forgive some of its flaws. In terms of specs, save for the screen, it pretty much trumps most flagships this year. But then OnePlus went above and beyond the call of duty and offered one of the very few and first smartphones with a whopping 8 GB of RAM. But what does this $60 addition to your bill really give you? Someone finally made an unscientific test to find out.
As a bit of a preamble, RAM or memory is used by programs to store their code and sometimes their data when they’re running. This is an optimization because fetching those data from internal storage like SSDs or especially eMMC is really painfully slow and inefficient. The more RAM there is, the more room apps can run in and the more apps can store their code and data on memory.
Running out of memory is a common occurrence in computing but mobile platforms handle them differently from desktop systems. On Android and iOS, apps and processes are often “killed” to make room for newer or more important apps. If the user loads an app that has been kicked out of memory, it would be like running the app from the start again, sometimes forgetting where you left off.
Most high-end smartphones so far have 4 GB of RAM, so with the OnePlus 5 having 6 and 8 GB of RAM, there’s definitely a lot of wiggle room for apps. But what of the 6 GB vs the 8 GB version? As it turns out, there’s really not much of a difference, although the lower RAM model naturally kicks apps out of memory sooner.
So why bother with the 8 GB RAM model? It’s really about future proofing. For now, there is no compelling reason to get one, but the mobile industry grows at a rapid pace. With features like Samsung DeX and similar, it might only be a matter of time before 8 GB is going to be the minimum. It’s also the only way to get a OnePlus 5 with 128 GB of storage that can no longer be expanded. So if you have $60 more to burn, sure, why not.