Welcome to the future, and to those who say the spec is dead, get ready to laugh in their faces. What do companies do if they can’t win the quad-core > dual-core wars? They bump up RAM count to divert eyes away from what the public sees as a flaw.
Samsung’s Galaxy S III in Japan, launching next month on NTT Docomo, will have 2GB of RAM in addition to a 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. There is no indication as to why Samsung chose to do this — international and, presumably, North American variants will have 1GB — but with the iPhone taking over the market in a country typically flush with homegrown talent like Sharp and Fujitsu, Samsung likely sees its 2GB play as a way to differentiate.
The same is true of LG’s flagship Optimus LTE 2 which, other than its stunning 4.7-inch HD IPS display, boasts 2GB of DDR2 RAM. At this point we don’t know what performance increase, if any, one will see from this doubling of RAM, though we’d expect there to be no multitasking problems such as HTC is facing with its One Series.
The dual-core/quad-core debate will rage likely into 2013 as consumers face Nvidia’s and Samsung’s marketing blitzes to prove that four cores are better than two. At the moment, however, this is not inherently true: Qualcomm’s dual-core Krait architecture built into the Snapdragon S4 SoC is far more advanced than an equivalent Cortex-A9 chip, and bests the Nvidia Tegra 3 in most CPU-based tasks. In fact, but for the evolutionary GPU results the Snapdragon S4 is the fastest chip we’ve ever used.
Going back to the RAM debate, Samsung and LG are likely using 2GB as leverage against claims that the LTE-capable dual-core Snapdragon chips are not competitive with HSPA-only quad-core alternatives. We’re guessing consumers are going to have no cause for complaint either way, but it looks like the remainder of 2012 will see a transition from 1GB to 2GB in Android smartphones.