Galaxy S7 Edge Tentative RAM Management Test Shows Improvement Over Predecessors
Let’s just admit it upfront: Samsung makes good phones. As a loose and general statement, there is a lot of truth in it. At any given point of Android’s history, Samsung has been making devices that are competitive to the prevailing market leaders, and in a lot of instances, they are the market leader themselves.
Samsung Flagships, as the terminology implies, are the best combination of hardware and software that one can purchase from the company when they are released. The hardware goes well into overkill territory if you consider normal consumer usage and needs. But power users keep wanting more and more, expecting devices to be at the absolute limit in their hardware utilization. So when a flagship considerably underperforms in departments that it shouldn’t, eyebrows are raised and questions are asked.
That is what happened with the Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship duo. If you had browsed over to xda subforums for the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge when the phones were released, you would find a lot of users complaining about the memory management shortfalls of the devices. The phones boasted of 3GB of RAM, LPDDR4 at that too. Android Authority did a breakdown on how much better LPDDR4 is when compared to LPDDR3, so the expectation from the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge was to be amongst the top tier when it came to memory handling. Here’s a video from Samsung comparing LPDDR4 with LPDDR3 and LPDDR2:
But this was all theoretical talk. When it came to actual performance, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge suffered from a bunch of memory management issues. At first, Android 5.0 Lollipop’s infamous memory leaks were blamed for the slowdown that inevitably happened after prolonged use. Even Samsung admitted it was a problem, assuring users that a fix will roll out for the phone.
With Android 5.1 Lollipop eventually rolling out to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, these memory leaks were largely fixed, but other problems surfaced. The phones were criticised for being very aggressive with their memory handling, with users voicing their concerns over at the forums. They complained that app refreshes were abundantly common, with many apps kicking users out of their last position when they were switched back to. The problem was so severe in some cases (Chrome and other webview apps, for example), that the app would refresh even if you just switched to one app and went back. For a phone that boasted of being on the cutting edge of performance, eluding even the most basic forms of multitasking was a killer turn off.
Ofcourse, this is XDA. So unofficial fixes were found for the issue. The same set of fixes were even ported over to other Samsung devices such as the Galaxy Note 4. But the point is, such fixes shouldn’t have to exist in the first place, moreso for a problem so basic to multitasking, and for a phone that will be minutely scrutinized by the media and the public for all the claims that it makes.
The Note5 has aggressive memory management quite like the S6 and S6 Edge did before it, and like many TouchWiz Lollipop devices did. This is a shame, because the phone does not perform like a 4GB RAM phone (evident when compared side-by-side with a ZenFone 2 or OnePlus 2), but it also performs as bad as my also-crippled Note 4 and its 3GB of RAM, and it does a worse job than even 2GB RAM devices I’ve put it against. It really is that bad, but what’s more ironic is that the Note5 included a task-killer application and has a RAM clean-up function, both found under Smart Manager. Yet both are pretty much useless.
The RAM management can and will most likely be fixed through a similar build.prop edit to the one that XDA members figured out for the S6 and ported to the Note 4. But out of the box, the situation is less than favorable and it betrays the whole concept of upgrading the RAM.
As expected, the same set of fixes fixed the issue with the Note 5 as well. For a bit of good news, the leaked Android 6.0 Marshmallow TouchWiz build for the Note 5 was noted not to have memory management issues either. The Android 6.0 Marshmallow build for the Note 5 is currently in a phased rollout, and pending any major issues, the general public will soon be able to multitask much more smoothly on their flagship devices.
With the launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, it was but obvious that the question will be asked again. Do these devices still suffer from memory management issues? Can users expect to keep more than 5 apps open in the background? Or will the system (TouchWiz, to be precise) continue with its aggressive task killing in the background?
The answer to this is, yes, improvements have been made. YouTuber Erica Griffin, popular for her in depth device review videos, uploaded a tentative RAM Management test on a test unit at MWC 2016:
In the video, Erica was able to load and switch between 8 applications without any hiccups, which she notes (and we agree) is a definite improvement over the previous Galaxy flagship devices, which would start struggling after 5 or so apps. The device does start closing apps (Chrome in this case) when Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft is opened, but due to the extremely memory intensive nature of Hearthstone, we wouldn’t really fault the device in doing so.
Hearthstone may have been a bad choice to demonstrate multitasking within apps (understandable, though, given the showfloor constraints), but even before the game was launched, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge showed that it indeed can work better than its predecessors. At the very least, 8 open applications is definitely a better working scenario than 4 or 5 of them. But when being restricted to only apps, even low budget devices that we have reviewed, like the Elephone P8000 or the OnePlus X have no issues holding 10-12 apps in memory and still being able to multitask with no issues on their 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM.
As Erica notes, her test was tentative in nature. The device in question is a demo unit with a test firmware that will most likely be very different than the firmware that the public will get their hands onto. But even with its provisional nature, the test video gives us a good basis in judging the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge over their predecessors since the predecessors barely performed on stock software until very recently.
The absolute limits of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be found out when we get a chance to take an indepth look at the final retail devices. Until then, we can say, that yes, the S7 and the S7 Edge are the best Galaxy devices ever.
Stay tuned for more MWC 2016 coverage!