Your Android device most likely came with 64GB (or more) of storage, but it's the RAM that really affects what you can do with it. Most high-end Android devices ship with 2GB or more of RAM, but some cheaper devices might have only 1GB of RAM or even 512MB in some cases.
But can you add RAM to a phone like you can with a PC?
Why Does Your Phone Need More RAM?
The importance of additional RAM cannot be overstated.
While more storage space gives you more media and app storage, additional RAM helps the processor to work faster. This aids media creation and playback as well as running apps and games more efficiently.
For instance, some playback problems are erroneously blamed on a slow internet connection. In truth, they could be speeded up with additional RAM, rather than faster wireless.
How Does RAM Swapping Increase Phone RAM?
On a desktop computer or laptop, you can dedicate a portion of hard disk space to increase RAM. This is known as a swap file and takes advantage of free space on your HDD or SSD when RAM fills up. Rather than discard the data, it is stored on your drive.
Windows 10 has advanced swap file management which mean you will probably never need to adjust the settings. If you did, however, you would be able to increase the portion of your HDD or SSD allocated for swap file purposes.
The same can be done on Android to effectively increase RAM.
While the underlying principle is the same, the execution of this on Android differs. You'll need dedicated software to make it work. You'll also need to root your device.
By default, certain files and permissions are blocked in Android. By rooting the device, you gain control of the entire operating system and hardware. This enables you to access otherwise restricted files and hardware, as well as install and run specialist software.
While easier than it used to be, rooting can be a difficult process. But if you want to increase RAM on your Android phone or tablet, it is necessary to root the device first.
What You Need to Increase Android Phone or Tablet RAM
Using the swap file method of increasing RAM on Android has three main components:
- A quality microSD card (class 4 or higher is best)
- A rooted Android phone or tablet
- An app for managing the swap file
While rooting Android is straightforward, it may not be enough. Some phones (e.g. the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4) limit swap file size at the kernel level. This means that no amount of rooting and swap file management will increase RAM on your Android.
Instead, you'll need to buy a new phone.
To save time investigating whether you can manually increase Android RAM, use a checking app. A good example is MemoryInfo & Swapfile Check.
Download: MemoryInfo & Swapfile Check (Free)
Simply run the app and tap Start RAMExpander Test Here to begin checking. If increasing the swap file is possible, the app will indicate this with a message of "Congratulations", along with the maximum possible increase.
You'll notice that this is a useful utility that also lists various RAM and storage details.
Choose a Good Quality SD Card to Increase RAM
If your phone or tablet's swap file can be tweaked, it's time to consider your phone's microSD card. As noted above, this needs to be a fast and resilient card.
Don't just buy any old microSD card. Instead, spend a little extra on some storage that is more resilient, which will result in better reliability. Check the rating on box when buying a new microSD card - Class 4 minimum is recommended, but Class 10 is the best.
And be sure to watch out for fake microSD cards. Bad quality SD cards bring several disadvantages to your Android phone
Beware: Using an SD card to increase RAM in your Android device will result reduced lifespan of the media.
It is important to note that some phones will not allow external storage (your microSD card) to be used for swap file. If your phone has sufficient internal storage, however, this can be used instead, but its lifespan can be similarly reduced.
Two Apps That Increase RAM on Android Phones and Tablets
While it is possible to manually specify the swap file on your Android device, you might find it easier to use an app:
Note that these are?all ad-supported options.
Both apps work in the same way:
- Launch the app
- Create a swap file
- Specify the size of the required swap file
- Choose the location for the swap file (external microSD card or internal storage)
- Wait for the swap file to be created
You may need to reboot your phone after completion for the swap file to initialize.
Remember to leave the app installed for as long as you require the swap file to work.
No Root? Practice Better Android Memory Management
If your phone cannot be rooted, or your phone's manufacturer has placed limits on manual swap file management, all is not lost.
Gaining a better idea of Android memory management can make it seem as if you have increased RAM without doing so. This involves things like using lightweight versions of apps, uninstalling apps you no longer use, and avoiding things like RAM boosters and task killers. These don't work quite as described---if anything, they run in the background, actively using RAM!
Find out more in our guide to managing memory on Android.
Does Increasing RAM Improve Your Android's Performance?
If you've been successful in allocating a portion of your phone's SD card to RAM, you should instant results. If you're a keen mobile gamer, you should find that games previously incompatible will now run.
Beyond this, the device should be more useful and productive than ever. This comes with a trade-off, however.
You now need to keep an eye on your storage. This is now essentially smaller than before, thanks to the swap file allocation. With less space dedicated to files and media, it will fill up quicker than expected. Avoid this by keeping your data synced to your favorite mobile cloud storage.
Google Drive is an amazing app, but with these tips, you can use it even better.