Impact of Increased RAM in iPhone 3GS

In our previous articles, we have covered the specifications of  Apple’s new iPhone 3GS and it was no secret that Apple’s new iPhone 3GS is a faster version of iPhone 3G.

The speed and performance of iPhone 3GS were attributed to faster CPU, more RAM, improved graphics etc. But a recent study carried out by iPhone app dev , Tap Tap Tap reveals that the increased RAM in iPhone 3GS was probably not given the importance it deserved.

The study conducted and published on their blog reveals that the 256 MB RAM in iPhone 3GS is one of the biggest factors behind the overall improved performance of Apple’s new iPhone.

Here is an overview of the different components found in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

Central processing Unit (CPU)
iPhone 3G: ARM 11, 412 MHz
iPhone 3GS: ARM Cortex, 600 MHz

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
iPhone 3G: PowerVR MBX Lite
iPhone 3GS: PowerVR SGX

Random Access Memory (RAM)
iPhone 3G: 128 MB
iPhone 3GS: 256 MB

It is noticeable that in comparison to all the above mentioned improvements, the RAM has increased by double. The iPhone app developer has observed that this actually translates into 4X to 10X more available memory in comparison to that of the iPhone 3G.


The older iPhone models have been often considered underpowered when it comes to RAM, so even though the RAM amount is technically doubled, in actual use, you’ll often be working with 4x to 10x the amount of free RAM. And that’s one major aspect that’s contributing to the overall speedier feel of the 3GS.

This conclusion was drawn after folks at Tap Tap Tap carried out the following tests:

Standard Conditions:

1. Both iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS were running an app named ‘Memory Status’. This app displays the usage of RAM on the iPhone.

2. Both the iPhones are tested at two stages, once during the start up and once after the iPhones have been used for a few minutes.

3. Both iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS were running the following application after the startup test is done:

  • MobileMail (Mail)
  • MobileMusicPlayer (iPod)
  • MobilePhone (Phone)
  • BTServer (Bluetooth server)
  • SpringBoard (manages your home screen)
  • Accessoryd (controls accessories connected through the dock connector)
  • Aosnotifyd (controls MobileMe syncing)
  • Mediaserverd (controls audio mixing)

The Memory Status App that is used for this study consists of the following memory states:

  • Wired and Active indicate the memory that is in use.
  • Inactive and Free indicate the memory that is currently available on the iPhone.

Stage 1: iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS during startup

You will notice that the iPhone 3GS has about 156 MB of memory available during startup. If you look at the available memory on iPhone 3G during startup, it is just under 40 MB.

This means that the iPhone 3GS gives the users 4x the memory in comparison to iPhone 3G.

iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G RAM Comparison

Stage 2: iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G after use (after startup)

With a list of iPhone Apps being used on both the iPhones, the iPhone 3GS comes out as a clear winner. Because of the repeated usage of the listed applications, the available RAM of iPhone 3GS has dropped down to about 122 MB. The Safari browser was still running on iPhone 3GS when this drop was noticed.

Now, if you look at available memory in case of iPhone 3G then you will notice that it has actually reduced to a meager 13 MB.

This shows that the iPhone 3GS gives the users almost 10X the memory in comparison to iPhone 3G.

iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G RAM Comparison

The speed of iPhone 3GS is attributed to other factors as well but the clear comparison of available memory in both iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G goes to show the significant impact that increased RAM has made in Apple’s latest iPhone.

Do let us know about your thoughts in the comment section below.

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