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I am thinking to buy the new Xiaomi Redmi 3S phones that got recently launched in India. This is going to be my first Android phone. Now the phone comes with two variants, Redmi 3S with 2 GB RAM and Redmi 3 S prime with 3 GB RAM, both with Qualcomm® Snapdragon 430 64-bit, octa-core processor and other specifications are identical except the prime version comes with a finger print sensor.

I am a light user, that is, I am not going to play games or watching movies or will use lots of apps. I want the phone for general day-to-day use.

Does it really matter to have 3 GB RAM over 2 GB RAM, giving my using conditions? Will it be OK with 2 GB provided I am a light user? Does it really matter to have more RAM? Is it going to give problems with newer versions of Android?

  • @AndyYan yes I want to use it for 2-3 years, so what are the issues here for long term use? – Harry Potter Aug 23 '16 at 12:10
  • Check my separate answer. – Andy Yan Aug 23 '16 at 12:16
  • Simply because the following facts: You'll start using more apps which may consume more memory, Trends show that new devices are launched with RAM above 3 gigs now; thus your device may stand a bit low among others. – Abhishek K Aug 23 '16 at 12:18
  • I have a Samsung Galaxy Alpha, it has 2GB RAM. Majority of the time it's perfect without any lags, but once in a while I'm using the google maps turn by turn navigation and listening to spotify at the same time, it slightly becomes laggy, but it'll be OK after some time. Though with the current trends of Apps I don't think after 2 years my phone is will be still the same. Every app update makes it use more resources. – Farid Nouri Neshat Aug 23 '16 at 15:23
  • @FaridNouriNeshat The fact that it becomes a bit laggy in that condition doesn't imply that you don't have enough RAM. RAM is not the only parameter at play. Did you check that in that particular situation your device is actually using all the RAM? The lags could be due to other issues. – Bakuriu Aug 23 '16 at 16:45
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Key aspect here light user who

  • Doesn't play games

  • Doesn't watch movies

  • Doesn't use many apps

  • Uses only for day to day to use

If the usage pattern continues to be same for next few years. answer is no, it doesn't make a difference

While the other answer has pointed out valid instances of certain apps occupying more RAM as as time rolls, IMO it is not very pertinent given that you are not multi tasking , But if you are using RAM hoggers like Facebook which nearly takes up 0.5 GB of RAM, it may result in sluggish performance if another hungry app is opened up

How much RAM does a phone need? gives an interesting take on current trend of high RAM phones and also mentions that Google’s official minimum spec for a 64-bit phone (that’s pretty much every phone these days) is 832 MB RAM, so, you are left with one GB of RAM for apps, even if Android OS is updated to 64 bit) and you retain your 2 GB RAM device - pretty much future proof !

Edit: Your chosen device OS is 32 bit and occupies 512 MB of RAM and if it is 64 bit it would require 832 MB of RAM , ( as per table it is dependent on screen size and pixel density- large in your case and pixel density is less than 300 dpi ). This size is only for the OS , radio (modem) is extra, which is not much anyway. Source : Page 56 of android Compatibility Definition

Bottom line, for your use, it shouldn't matter, since EMUI 7.0 occupies 0.5 GB and you are still left with 1.5 GB, which is plenty. Even if EMUI is upgraded, I doubt it would make a substantial difference

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    Sure hope his "light" is light enough. I'm conceived as a "light" user by people around me but I use many RAM hog apps that people use, just sparingly and shutting them when not needed. – Andy Yan Aug 23 '16 at 12:42
  • Also, emphasis on "Google": their vision does not cover so far as MIUI goes, sadly. Even when not in use, MIUI takes up a huge chunk RAM too, sometimes leaving ~1.3GB on a 4GB RAM device. – Andy Yan Aug 23 '16 at 12:42
  • true- answer is by his usage specifically – beeshyams Aug 23 '16 at 12:53
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    @beeshyams Why do you assume that Google's minimum spec is assuming that you run zero apps? I suspect that the spec is for minimum usable hardware, which would include running some non-zero number of applications. – Undo Aug 23 '16 at 15:05
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    Could you elaborate on since the pixel density is 300 dpi? It looks like a complete non sequitur to me... sure more pixels means that applications will probably have to need more ram to draw on the screen and the same is true for the kernel, but I don't think there is any easy way to compare how much RAM usage changes based on the dpi on the OS, since this will also depend on what the user is doing etc. – Bakuriu Aug 23 '16 at 16:49
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Not now, but if you plan to use it for >1 year then you need to give it a bit more consideration.

Historically, Android OS updates does not increase RAM usage by much, as far as my observation goes. As of now free RAM at boot time stands at 1~1.3GB for a 720p device with 2GB RAM, lightweight ROM and no Google Apps.

The problem is with third-party apps. As their functions grow they tend to use much more RAM than at the time of release. For example, WeChat typically takes 100~200MB right now. Even if you use few, they will increase usage over time and eat up what remains little by little.

Rewind to 2013: Moto G was a really decent midranger at that time, and 1GB is just enough back then, but multitasking proves to be a burden for it now, with only <500MB remaining at boot and each app taking their share. With no more than 10 third-party apps the auto-killing mechanism will kick in, eliminating background apps, giving a bad experience.

Add MIUI (notorious RAM hog) to the mix, and you have my opinion.

  • Ok with a higher RAM my phone will do it fine after 2-3 years of use right? – Harry Potter Aug 23 '16 at 12:21
  • 2 years I reckon yes, 3 years - not so much, Snapdragon 430 and MIUI (whatever version it'll be at) will be the bottleneck by then, unless you only use the phone for light tasks like browsing and music. Battery will also be quite worn out. – Andy Yan Aug 23 '16 at 12:24
  • So I guess I need a change of phone in every 2 years from now on. :p Thanks for your answer. – Harry Potter Aug 23 '16 at 12:25
  • Or just invest in a more high-end phone (OnePlus 3 seems to be a wise choice right now) so that it lasts a bit longer. Whatever you choose, don't expect smartphones to last as long as feature phones :) – Andy Yan Aug 23 '16 at 12:27
  • Ya I know smartphones don't last long like feature phones. – Harry Potter Aug 23 '16 at 12:28

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