ZTE Axon 30 5G update adds 8GB more RAM with a big catch

The ZTE Axon 30 5G is already an intriguing smartphone. The second-ever commercial smartphone with an under-display camera, it claims to have taken the technology to the next level and addressed the flaws of its predecessor. A new update is seemingly pushing the envelope of smartphone technology even further, though in a slightly different direction. The Axon 30 may now be considered the first smartphone to boast 20GB of RAM, but that seemingly magical upgrade is almost smoke and mirrors.

It seems that smartphone manufacturers, at least those hailing from China, have finally caught up with a technique that has long been used by operating systems for decades. It may have different names on different platforms, but all of the desktop operating systems had implemented the concept of virtual memory or virtual RAM long before there were smartphones. Vivo called it Extended RAM, and OPPO has dropped the name "RAM+ Expansion." Curiously, ZTE's update doesn't give a flashy title to the feature.

An update to the phone in China has given the Axon 30 8GB more RAM without actually adding any hardware component, of course. As a form of virtual memory implementation, it simply means 8GB out of the phone's 256GB has been allocated to act as RAM instead of storage space. This gives more room for apps and app data to operate, in case that already generous 12GB RAM wasn't enough.

That whopping 20GB of RAM doesn't come without some costs, of course. In addition to losing some storage space, virtual RAM is also slower than actual DRAM because of the different memory technologies used. It might not be that noticeable in actual practice, though, and users might appreciate the fact that their apps don't immediately get killed in the background from lack of memory.

It's interesting that the concept of virtual RAM is slowly starting to creep into Android, and it might only be a matter of time before it becomes a mainstream feature. That leaves ample opportunity for manufacturers to polish the feature or, better yet, for Google to make it a standard Android feature.