I have an unrooted LG Revolution with 512MB of RAM (really about 330MB or so available), and it bogs down with
- about 200 installed apps, whether or not they are running (it makes a difference, I guess the pointer information to apps is stored in RAM at startup).
- lots of widgets and apps and services running,
- a couple of RAM hogs running, like the standard e-mail client (it consumes about 50MB of RAM).
After a year of dealing with lag and observing that lag is inversely proportional to available RAM, I am on a stricted diet of widgets (only one as of today), running apps and services, and total installed apps. And I watch Running Services constantly (I keep having to kill the Amazon appstore app, for example, after I use that app).
So 512MB of RAM on an unrooted phone (bloatware consumes precious RAM, I don't know how it'd be if I rooted) requires my attention in order to run acceptably.
512 MB of RAM is ok if:
- you're on a budget
- you monitor running apps and services and respond appropriately to low RAM.
- you kill running processes before you play RAM-intensive games,
- you don't install many apps, like keep it below 100 or 125.
For me and my app usage, I'll never buy another 512 MB RAM phone. I'll probably go for 2GB on my next phone. I sometimes read posts mentioning occasional lag on high end 1GB phones, but have seen none saying that about 2GB phones.
P.S. Listen to chanchan05, who set me straight about total number of apps, and thus helped me get a more usable phone.