We've seen rumours of various forthcoming handsets packing 6GB of RAM, up from the current trend of around 4GB, but now the OnePlus 3 has hit the market as the first handset available with this RAM amount, and what's interesting is that it may not be such a booster when it comes to performance.
Or at least, that's what one set of testing seems to show. Youtube channel C4ETech uploaded a video showcasing its testing of the OnePlus 3 and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge in a head-to-head performance battle, pitting the former's Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset with 6GB of RAM against the latter's Exynos 8890 and 4GB RAM. The vid creators tried to ensure the test was as fair as possible by disabling all power saving features, clearing all active applications, and connecting both devices to the same networks. The test used the device's built-in stopwatch app to see which was faster at activating and running a set of pre-set applications including Temple Run 2 and Twitter, it was also done three times to ensure the result is consistent.
For the first round the OnePlus 3 completed in 71 seconds compared to the Galaxy S7's quicker 61 second time. In round two the Galaxy S7 perofrmed even better at only 33 seconds to the OnePlus 3's 70 seconds. The testers turned animations off for the final round and still found the Galaxy S7 faster at 90 seconds to the OnePlus 3's 132 seconds. The tests also found that with re-starting the test each time, the OnePlus 3 would indiviudally load apps from scratch where the Galaxy S7 appeared to use its memory efficiently to recall the app data and bring it up again quicker.
The take away is that the OnePlus 3 is anything between 10 seconds and 42 seconds slower than the Galaxy S7 in like-for-like situtations. It would appear that quantity of RAM isn't as important as how intelligently the hardware and software uses it. We should also note that the Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 3 is a custom Android build, so there may be some wobbles in there causing this.
Lastly, in a way it also depends what you think the trend towards 6GB of RAM is actually for. KYM's Richard Goodwin, for example, thinks that firms such as Google and Apple will continue to merge their desktop and mobile environments, something that would benefit from more RAM in smartphones. On the other hand, the push for VR also seems like a viable reason to implement more RAM as VR applications may be more demanding than just running Android straight up; though this doesn't change the fact that the OnePlus 3, regardless of the end application, isn't using its memory very efficiently. Fortunately, this sort of thing could feasibly be patched in a software update.
It also makes us wonder, if Samsung is so good at using RAM and the Galaxy Note 7 is rumoured to pack 6GB, what kind of BEAST is that going to be?!