I'm sure many people like me are aware and annoyed by the extremely limited amount of RAM in Nexus S (512MB but only 300+ is usable), I have searched all over google for a solution to increase the amount of RAM available and came up empty (I tried swap file applications but they just broke my system's SD card partitions causing a complete reset).

I wonder if there is any hardware solution to this problem. Is it possible to swap the chip out for a bigger capacity one? I realize that it is not as simple as swapping out PC RAM from a dimm but I haven't seen any schematics for the chip layout on the ARM boards in the smartphones so I really hope that it is somewhat possible to increase the amount of RAM on the board.

  • It may be possible to add swap space, see Adding Swap Space Ram to G1
    – nik
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 9:55
  • 4
    The rest of your RAM is used by the OS, "not usable" isn't exactly true. Commented May 14, 2012 at 16:20
  • I can only wish :(
    – Narayanan
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 8:47

8 Answers 8


You can't. Most smart phones are designed as a System-on-Chip; which means that the CPU, RAM, GPU, device controllers, etc are all in a single chip. Updating RAM in such system means replacing a whole lot of other stuffs. Not to mention that you probably would have a hard time finding a chip with different specification which fits perfectly into the hole that was left behind after you dismounted the chip; due to size restrictions, the components around the chip are designed to fit tightly into the available space.

  • 1
    In addition, having changed the hardware, it is highly unlikely that the existing drivers will work with that hardware. You would have to recompile Android with your new drivers! This is harder than it sounds. Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 14:06
  • 1
    And, you may ask, "why don't the designers make it possible to perform upgrades?" It basically comes down to size. Supporting upgradable RAM greatly increases the amount of space the internals take up which increases the size of the phone, the weight, etc.
    – JasCav
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 15:30
  • 2
    Project Ara from Google might be able to bring this concept to reality! Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 20:04
  • 1
    @chromozonex Google announced that Project Ara won't allow you to change the CPU , RAM , Storage or even the battery
    – Suici Doga
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 7:36
  • Note that RAM is rarely on the same chip as CPU and GPU. It's on a different chip that's packaged together.
    – iBug
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:26

The actual hardware: No. It is System on Chip (SOC) and cannot be upgraded.


You can use Swap for this purpose. However, the performace will take a large hit, even on a class 10 SD card.

Swap is, in short, virtual RAM. With swap, a small portion of the hard drive is set aside and used like RAM. The computer will attempt to keep as much information as possible in RAM until the RAM is full. At that point, the computer will begin moving inactive blocks of memory (called pages) to the hard disk, freeing up RAM for active processes. If one of the pages on the hard disk needs to be accessed again, it will be moved back into RAM, and a different inactive page in RAM will be moved onto the hard disk ('swapped'). The trade off is disks and SD cards are considerably slower than physical RAM, so when something needs to be swapped, there is a noticeable performance hit.

Unlike traditional swap, Android's Memory Manager kills inactive processes to free up memory. Android signals to the process, then the process will usually write out a small bit of specific information about its state (for example, Google Maps may write out the map view coordinates; Browser might write the URL of the page being viewed) and then the process exits. When you next access that application, it is restarted: the application is loaded from storage, and retrieves the state information that it saved when it last closed. In some applications, this makes it seem as if the application never closed at all. This is not much different from traditional swap, except that Android apps are specially programmed to write out very specific information, making Android's Memory Manager more efficient that swap.

There are also other pitfalls with this method:

You need to turn off swap before you mount SD via USB, if you don't you will not be able to mount sd as swapfile is active and set to read only which will deny request to mount USB Storage.

TL;DR: Yes in theory, in practice it's not good!

As an alternative KitKat has a smaller memory footprint and is supposed to be optimised for 512 RAM devices, look around XDA for a ROM for your device maybe and see if that would help!

  • Is there any thing such as a RAM SDCard which is a RAMDISK SDCard
    – Suici Doga
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 13:41
  • @SuiciDoga no, there is no such thing.
    – RossC
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 23:56
  • Maybe someone could make them
    – Suici Doga
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 2:05
  • zRAM replaced swap. Swap is harmful to flash storage. Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 23:44

No it isn't. At least if you have to ask about it. Replacing any chip would require several thousand dollars worth of equipment and experience. Not to mention obtaining the correct replacement.

  • ??? Replacing component chips is not something that requires thousands of dollars worth of anything. You need a compatible replacement chip which you’re trying to swap out and then you need a decent rework station, some solder balls (or paste) a proper chip stencil to line up the pins, flux and some kind of camera or trinocular in order to see the chip. You can get all that for under $100! Soldering tiny components doesn’t require lasers, it’s a hot air tool. When you place solder properly and use enough flux, the solder literally will attract right into the metal points all on its own. Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 6:14

An Android device? Sure.
Hear me out.

Android is an operating system like any Linux distribution, or Windows.
Android can run on x86 hardware, or ARM boards too. (Well, usually it runs on ARM CPUs.)
You can put Android-x86 on your laptop/desktop. Or a virtual machine. Whatever.

The thing is, that you also mentioned that you want to upgrade a phone hardware.
That's a no go, since they use "SoC"s. (System-on-chip.)
Like a blackbox. Yeah, you can spot the components, disassemble it, but you cannot expand / repair it.

But for the original question... the main question, the answer is: Yes.


The answer is 'NO' you cannot upgrade the RAM of a smartphone yourself! Probably you are comparing it to the computer, as we can change the RAM in a computer but you're stuck with the size shipped with your smart phone (:

  • You can, use swap files and partitions on the external SD card to mimic RAM thus increasing what the device thinks it has as RAM. It won't be as fast, it's messy and inelegant though. "This kind of question made me laugh" is why I have downvoted this. Let's keep the tone polite. @Deepak.pm realistically you can swap, see the answer here: android.stackexchange.com/questions/22997/…
    – RossC
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 10:48
  • I wasn't being harsh by saying it made me laugh. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 10:52
  • It looks rude to be honest, and it isn't fully correct either. You CAN upgrade the RAM on your device, just not in a way that would be of use to most people. Link2SD causes a big hit at times let alone using Swap for RAM usage.
    – RossC
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 10:54
  • Yea well you're right, i was thinking more as a lay person. Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 10:55

You definitely can upgrade your RAM on your Android device. (I've done it before). It is, however, a lot of work and very expensive. It isn't as easy to replace as it is on a laptop. You need to be very specific when ordering new parts and for some devices, RAM isn't the only thing you'd need to replace. So of course you can, if the manufacturer does it, obviously so can you. You can do anything, you just need the money, knowledge and sources. But for most people it's just worth buying a new phone. But yes, you can -- I've done it for my Blu Studio 6.0 and a Nexus device.

  • 1
    How did you do it?
    – Suici Doga
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 13:40

This is possible but not even remotely easy to do by yourself (unless you are experienced repairman or electronics hobbyist). Unfortunately, device manufacturers are interested in quickest possible technical obsolescence of products so it's unlikely that they will agree to install some standard RAM slot so hardware solution to this problem requires soldering.

For example this site explains how to replace RAM chips on a HTC Universal which is Windows Mobile phone but it can be considered Android device too ;)

Basically it is enough replace RAM chips. To find compatible RAM chip you should first find out which chips are inside your device and teardown reports may help with that. Then you can try to find usual computer RAM modules with bigger compatible chips (datasheets about your RAM chip may help with that). If compatible RAM chips are accessible and you have good soldering skills you can replace them using rework station, heat gun, soldering iron or of course you may ask some repairman to do this for you.

If you have any questions about RAM replacement process you can ask them on electronics.stackexchange.com

  • Even if you were to replace the RAM you'd also have to patch the BSP software to change the memory map visible to the CPU, so that it can use the extra RAM. Without access to the internal specifications that the manufacturer has, you'd probably brick the device trying to do that. The site that "explains how to replace RAM chips" is a dead link.
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 13:47

Use RAM Expander expanding to SD card

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    That doesn't add more RAM. Could you also provide a link?
    – ce4
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 4:43
  • 1
    The OP already stated that they've tried swap file apps.
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 10:15

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