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Old October 28th, 2009, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default RAM, ROM, What?

People throw technical terms around during discussions here, which is not unexpected and is encouraged! But new users may be confused and occasionally little arguments start over semantics. Here's some clarification to hopefully help people better understand how their phone works and communicate better the issues they're having. If people wish to help me clarify better, I'd appreciate it.

ROM - Read Only Memory
While the term has changed a bit from it's original meaning, it's essentially computer memory that does not require power to store it's data (non-volitile). In the sense of a smartphone like the Hero, it's the Internal Memory where the OS is stored. From what I've gathered, the Internal Memory is just Flash Memory (a special type of ROM) partitioned into two parts, one for the OS and the rest for apps to use. So, the OS partition essentially is true ROM, unless you root the phone. The software that groups like xda-developers make available are called ROMs because they're a ROM Image. It's why you see games for emulators called ROMs because the games were originally taken from true ROM cartridges.

For the Hero this size is 512MB.

The sdcard is a larger capacity external Flash Memory card.

In a normal computer, ROM in the form of an EEPROM chip is where the BIOS is stored.

RAM - Random Access Memory
This is where current processes that are running are stored and keep the data they need immediately available to them. This is the memory you see when you run any of the Task Managers showing you currently running apps and the available memory. It's a completely different part of the phone from the Internal Memory discussed above. Data stored in RAM requires constant power and does not survive a power cycle of the phone (volitile).
For the Hero this is 288MB.

Root
This is the term being thrown around for modifying a smartphone to put custom software on it that normally wouldn't be allowed through means included with the phone (Android Market or an .apk file for a non-Market app). "Root" is the common term chosen because, in a Unix environment, the "root" user has complete and total control of the entire operating system of the computer. So, "rooting" the phone means taking complete control over its operating system. This is usually done by means of finding a flaw somewhere in the phone's firmware to allow access to the restricted Internal Memory where the OS resides. You then install a custom ROM (see above) to let you use your phone from then on.

Android is a bit more unique than any of the previous smartphones in that you don't really need "approval" from a higher power (ex, the Apple store) to install an app that hasn't made it onto the Market. Just uncheck the box Settings -> Application settings -> Unknown sources and you're free to install any .apk file you wish. So Android phones are more like a regular computer in that you're free to install whatever software you want from whichever source you want. Just be careful of where you get apps from outside of official Market sources. Also like a regular computer, you could open yourself up to having your personal data stolen.

Rooting still gives some advantages for power users, but for normal or even intermediate users, you probably don't need to root the phone to enjoy it as much as you'd have needed to for previous smartphones.
For further discussion, please see our Developer Forums.

Tethering
This is the term used for using your phone as an Internet access point to allow an attached computer to access the Internet. It turns your phone into a mobile modem. Please don't discuss Tethering here. See the thread Does Tethering work? to discuss this further.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 03:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pdragon View Post
People keep throwing these terms around and causing a great deal of confusion and occasionally little arguments start over semantics. Here's some clarification to hopefully help people better understand how their phone works and communicate better the issues they're having. If people wish to help me clarify better, I'd appreciate it.

ROM - Read Only Memory
While the term has changed a bit from it's original meaning, it's essentially computer memory that does not require power to store it's data (non-volitile). In the sense of a smartphone like the Hero, it's the Internal Memory where the OS is stored. From what I've gathered, the Internal Memory is just Flash Memory (a special type of ROM) partitioned into two parts, one for the OS and the rest for apps to use. So, the OS partition essentially is true ROM, unless you root the phone. The software that groups like xda-developers make available are called ROMs because they're a ROM Image. It's why you see games for emulators called ROMs because the games were originally taken from true ROM cartridges.

For the Hero this size is 512MB.

The sdcard is a larger capacity external Flash Memory card.

In a normal computer, ROM in the form of an EEPROM chip is where the BIOS is stored.

RAM - Random Access Memory
This is where current processes that are running are stored and keep the data they need immediately available to them. This is the memory you see when you run any of the Task Managers showing you currently running apps and the available memory. It's a completely different part of the phone from the Internal Memory discussed above. Data stored in RAM requires constant power and does not survive a power cycle of the phone (volitile).
For the Hero this is 288MB.
thanks for the education buddy!
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Old October 29th, 2009, 09:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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does that mean the more apps stored and have to run from the ram the worse the bat life would be since it has to continuously be accessed. lol now that i typed that the answer seems pretty self explanatory sorry im going to post any way maybe im wrong or theres a better explanation
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Old October 29th, 2009, 10:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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No you are right and this is why it is important to have a task manager app so you can preserve battery life. Android is awesome at managing the RAM for the many different apps and processes running but for any mobile device battery life is at a premium so we must take that into consideration before speed. Some people advocate against a task manager just because linux manages RAM so well. That is grrrreat for a desktop computer. With no juice you have no RAM so there.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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more RAM used = more power thats needed. pure and simple...
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Old October 30th, 2009, 08:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Actually, that may not technically be true. I believe the power supplied to RAM is constant throughout the whole chip at all times, despite whether it has data or not. So more apps running would not cause a higher power drain due to RAM, but more due to higher CPU usage. And background tasks don't necessarily have to be using the CPU to reside in memory. Using linux as an example, run the "top" command next time you're at a command prompt. You'll see plenty of programs resident in RAM not using any CPU cycles.

So, again, because of the way the Linux kernel works, you really don't need to constantly be using Task Killers to make the phone run more efficiently. From some things I've been reading, killing tasks that may be writing to Internal Memory may be causing some of the lost free space issues because you're killing the task before it had time to to properly allocate/unallocate it's used space. That may leave space marked as used that's actually not in use anymore.

Now, if apps are being run from the sdcard (which they hopefully will be able to at some point) and/or reading/writing data to it constantly, that could possibly cause additional power use.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 09:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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New user to a smart phone here. For me and others, would it be possible to add to this first post what "root" and "tether" mean. I see these words frequently in this forum. Thanks!
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:24 AM   #8 (permalink)
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New user to a smart phone here. For me and others, would it be possible to add to this first post what "root" and "tether" mean. I see these words frequently in this forum. Thanks!
Done. Good suggestion.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Done. Good suggestion.
Thanks!
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Old October 30th, 2009, 11:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pdragon View Post
Actually, that may not technically be true. I believe the power supplied to RAM is constant throughout the whole chip at all times, despite whether it has data or not. So more apps running would not cause a higher power drain due to RAM, but more due to higher CPU usage. And background tasks don't necessarily have to be using the CPU to reside in memory. Using linux as an example, run the "top" command next time you're at a command prompt. You'll see plenty of programs resident in RAM not using any CPU cycles.

So, again, because of the way the Linux kernel works, you really don't need to constantly be using Task Killers to make the phone run more efficiently. From some things I've been reading, killing tasks that may be writing to Internal Memory may be causing some of the lost free space issues because you're killing the task before it had time to to properly allocate/unallocate it's used space. That may leave space marked as used that's actually not in use anymore.

Now, if apps are being run from the sdcard (which they hopefully will be able to at some point) and/or reading/writing data to it constantly, that could possibly cause additional power use.
I completely agree... I'm of the non-task killer camp and believe that if your phone is running slow then you should find the actual problem app and uninstall it, rather than manually babysitting it with task killers. This is only my assumption, but killing tasks left and right will eventually lead to some sort of data corruption and system instabilities.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 04:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I completely agree... I'm of the non-task killer camp and believe that if your phone is running slow then you should find the actual problem app and uninstall it, rather than manually babysitting it with task killers. This is only my assumption, but killing tasks left and right will eventually lead to some sort of data corruption and system instabilities.

Now what about in the case of say like Sprint Navigation running? I have never used that program, and honestly i dont know why anyone would. Google maps is more than sufficient, for myself at least. I digress. everytime i check my task manager, that damn program is running, and everytime i kill it. Im strating to think its like 'peep' and 'footprints' and just wont die.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 04:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, since we cannot easily inspect where the inter-dependencies are with some of these Sprint apps, there's not much we can do until we have root access.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I see both sides now. We don't need to kill programs if they are using no CPU, I understand the science behind the ram chip and power I overlooked that before. The prospect of killing something before it can finish its task is murder on the system stability. I do have issues and I am sure others do as well with programs starting up on their own.

Always after using Handcent SMS my active tasks list has the native messaging app, sprint nav and a couple others that are out of place. I am going to stop using the task kill widget for now and monitor the cpu use of each of those random apps.

I believe the spare parts settings app has the measurement tool needed to track the cpu cycles.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 04:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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can you sticky this on the GSM page please?
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Old November 4th, 2009, 02:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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can you sticky this on the GSM page please?
Not ignoring you. Trying to see if there's a more universal FAQ option that would be more appropriate for general info like this.
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Old November 7th, 2009, 08:15 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I just wanted to thank everyone but pdragon especially. It is because of these threads that I have been able to expand my limited knowledge of my new device. Technology is changing so quickly. So it is wonderful to learn to fully utilize and envision future uses for my device vs planning my next purchase. Lord knows I cannot afford to keep up. Anyways this was just a long winded thank you.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 03:16 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Newbie here,

In the first post (BTW thanks Pdragon) you said that the RAM in the Hero is 288MB. After I kill all the apps with the task manager, it tells me that I only have 45MB available. Where is the rest of the rest of the memory being used when the phone is not running any apps.

Thanks,

LA
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Old November 8th, 2009, 10:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Part of it is the Android OS itself. The other part is just how the Linux kernel works. Below is an article that explains fairly well.

The Linux Newbie: "Linux Uses Too Much Memory!" A (very) Basic Linux Memory Guide
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Old November 8th, 2009, 11:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Part of it is the Android OS itself. The other part is just how the Linux kernel works. Below is an article that explains fairly well.

The Linux Newbie: "Linux Uses Too Much Memory!" A (very) Basic Linux Memory Guide

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Old November 9th, 2009, 09:36 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I was holding at 70Mb of 'Available space' (ROM) for a while, and have dropped to 52Mb in a matter of days. I haven't really installed any apps recently...certainly not 20Mb worth, anyway.

What's the best way to try recovering some of this space? Uninstalling apps barely seems to make a small dent, and I also deleted all SMS threads in Handcent which had no effect.


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Old November 10th, 2009, 08:02 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Have you tried rebooting the phone after uninstalling & clearing SMS history?
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Old November 10th, 2009, 11:17 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I was holding at 70Mb of 'Available space' (ROM) for a while, and have dropped to 52Mb in a matter of days. I haven't really installed any apps recently...certainly not 20Mb worth, anyway.

What's the best way to try recovering some of this space? Uninstalling apps barely seems to make a small dent, and I also deleted all SMS threads in Handcent which had no effect.


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are you using bluetooth?

if the phone is in a connecting state when you shut off the phone, when it starts up again it shows less free space. theres a video showing it happening multiple times in a row, i think the worst one it did was lose 13MB on one restart.
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Old November 10th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Have you tried rebooting the phone after uninstalling & clearing SMS history?
<sigh>

I'm rather disappointed in myself for not thinking of this on my own. Upon reading your post and rebooting my phone, I regained 9Mb of ROM...went from 54Mb to 63Mb. Thanks! I'm still curious as to where the other 9Mb went, but am not holding my breath that I'll ever find out.

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are you using bluetooth?
No. Heck, I've never even turned the Bluetooth service on...partially because I don't have a BT headset, and then I read about the 'BT eats ROM' bug, and am really not getting one now!


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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:15 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Nice write up.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #25 (permalink)
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@Pdragon: quite often I see people confused about the actual ROM values their phones report. For example, the HTC Magic has 512MB of ROM (and 288MB RAM), but I see users saying "I only see xMB, but I'm supposed to have 512MB! Where is it?"

Your original post alludes to this where you say "From what I've gathered, the Internal Memory is just Flash Memory (a special type of ROM) partitioned into two parts, one for the OS and the rest for apps to use."

It might be helpful to clarify that if people are seeing less than the 512 MB of ROM, it's because of this partitioning, and give an example.

For example, on my HTC Magic when I run Useful Switchers, I can see that I have 180MB of 295MB available from my internal memory (ROM). So I can assume that the partition for the OS is 217MB, and the partition for apps is 295MB.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Does anyone know what the partition split size is for the Hero? At the time I wrote this I didn't know what it was, which is why I didn't include it. I haven't come across what it actually is either.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Does anyone know what the partition split size is for the Hero? At the time I wrote this I didn't know what it was, which is why I didn't include it. I haven't come across what it actually is either.
I used Useful Switchers to see how much memory I have left displayed as xxxMB/295MB. I assume from this that 295MB is the size of the Magic's app partition.

Try the same on your Hero and see what it says.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 07:39 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Man, pdragon, this thread was helpful as S-ugarH-oney-IcedT-ea!!!
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Old January 11th, 2010, 09:44 AM   #29 (permalink)
 
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Android is a bit more unique than any of the previous smartphones in that you don't really need "approval" from a higher power (ex, the Apple store) to install an app that hasn't made it onto the Market.
LOL... Nice but not even close
Blackberry (install JAD/JAR files via the web or internal memory.. didn't even have an app world until more recent)
WebOS (can install files via the web.. forgot the format)
WinMo (can install via the CAD files, which can be downloaded via the web or installed via internal memory)
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Old February 21st, 2010, 08:04 PM   #30 (permalink)
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What programs (or are they built in) to view the amount of ROM / RAM being used? I downloaded an app called "Android System Info" and it says total internal memory (I assume that is ROM) is 159 megs. Total RAM is 192 megs......
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Old April 19th, 2010, 04:24 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyEDB View Post
I was holding at 70Mb of 'Available space' (ROM) for a while, and have dropped to 52Mb in a matter of days. I haven't really installed any apps recently...certainly not 20Mb worth, anyway.

What's the best way to try recovering some of this space? Uninstalling apps barely seems to make a small dent, and I also deleted all SMS threads in Handcent which had no effect.


sleepy
There is probably a lot in some app caches. If you have root, use cachemate from the market. If not, go into settings>applications>manage applications and then go to apps like market, music, maps, albums, etc. Also, you can sort apps by size by pressing menu. Look at the largest ones and either uninstall, or see if they have large caches. This should free up a lot of memory.
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Old April 19th, 2010, 04:27 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by regression View Post
What programs (or are they built in) to view the amount of ROM / RAM being used? I downloaded an app called "Android System Info" and it says total internal memory (I assume that is ROM) is 159 megs. Total RAM is 192 megs......
Hmmm... You can find out free memory by going into settings and looking at sd and phone storage. For RAM, you can use a task killer, (just don't kill anything) or get 2.1 and you can see a lot under Android's built in services manager.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 01:42 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Default Im super new at this....

Forgive me,but i couldnt find this answer anywhere....if I root my phone and then install the 2.1 rom...will my phone not be eligible for the official sprint/htc update (whenever it comes out) ??? Thanks guys this forum has helped me alot!
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Old July 14th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Great Resource! Linked to this from the Sprint Community. Feel free to log in over there and create it as a Document in the Android Phones community. Very clear explanation.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 10:08 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Forgive me,but i couldnt find this answer anywhere....if I root my phone and then install the 2.1 rom...will my phone not be eligible for the official sprint/htc update (whenever it comes out) ??? Thanks guys this forum has helped me alot!
JF - to get the official Sprint updates you need to be running the same RUU that Sprint expects. So you'll have to restore back from your custom root version.

At least that's how I understand it works.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 04:54 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Hi,
Ive had the Hero for around a year now and have never updated any software, is it recommend that i do.

Cheers

Carl
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Old September 15th, 2010, 06:22 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by 123carl View Post
Hi,
Ive had the Hero for around a year now and have never updated any software, is it recommend that i do.

Cheers

Carl
If you want the features of 2.1, which I feel is worth it, then yes, update the software. Some would argue that 1.5's speed and performance is better than 2.1. But I would recommend updating to 2.1
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Old January 6th, 2011, 03:44 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Default T-Mobile My Touch 4G RAM ROM question

Hello, I just checked the t-mobile website and it shows that the My Touch 4G has 4GB of ROM and 768MB RAM. Why is this phone so much higher then all the others for both RAM and ROM? Is it just made to run tons of apps?

Do those numbers mean I can install an insane amount of apps to the internal ROM and be able to run many of them at once without the phone having to swap ram?
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Old January 6th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rripperr View Post
Hello, I just checked the t-mobile website and it shows that the My Touch 4G has 4GB of ROM and 768MB RAM. Why is this phone so much higher then all the others for both RAM and ROM? Is it just made to run tons of apps?

Do those numbers mean I can install an insane amount of apps to the internal ROM and be able to run many of them at once without the phone having to swap ram?
Meh - thats not more than any of the new phones.
As tech improves rom/ram improves.
Enjoy your phone.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 04:46 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Default ROM RAM for voip

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Originally Posted by MahaloCat View Post
Meh - thats not more than any of the new phones.
As tech improves rom/ram improves.
Enjoy your phone.
Thanks MaholaCat for the quick reply.

I now see the G2 also has a 4GB ROM, but only 512MB RAM. I compared all the "new" phones on t-mobile.com and none come close to the ROM size of the G2 and MyTouch.
The Vibrant says it has 16GB internal memory but I cannot find out how its divided up.

Maybe if I tell you what Im trying to accomplish you can guide me better. I have Google voice, sipddroid, Google Voice Callback Free, all installed on my G1. Im playing around with a data only plan and making all calls using voip and no minutes/voice plan at all on the G1.

It works great on fresh reboots and continues to work great if thats all im doing. When I run other apps even small ones it sometimes becomes slow and unreliable, but not always, depending on the apps I run.

I was thinking it was due to lack of cpu and RAM memory because the G1 is so old and on 1.6 so I was looking for phones with good cpu and maxed out RAM, well maxed out for whats available "today".

Do you think Im on the right track to improve the reliabilty of my voip setup?
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Old March 26th, 2011, 02:00 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by andy22 View Post
No you are right and this is why it is important to have a task manager app so you can preserve battery life. Android is awesome at managing the RAM for the many different apps and processes running but for any mobile device battery life is at a premium so we must take that into consideration before speed. Some people advocate against a task manager just because linux manages RAM so well. That is grrrreat for a desktop computer. With no juice you have no RAM so there.
Hi I'm a n00b!
Gotta say I'm in the task killer app camp. A tech at Sprint actually recommended I install one. It seems my beloved solitaire app likes to activate other apps on my HTC Hero for no apparent reason, so the task killer is really helpful for me. But I completely understand why there are people who think they're more of a negative than a positive
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Old March 26th, 2011, 04:01 PM   #42 (permalink)
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You don't need task killers. Most salesmen only have the same knowledge on your device as you do. Trust me. I'm telling them how the phone works and selling for them when I go in the stores.
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Old March 26th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #43 (permalink)
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http://geekfor.me/faq/you-shouldnt-be-using-a-task-killer-with-android/
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Sprint wants me to make this absolutely clear: “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of Sprint.”

I work for Sprint, I do not represent them on this forum!
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Old April 29th, 2011, 08:26 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Default Tools to know how much memory RAM ROM and EXTERNAL you have

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjschmidt View Post
@Pdragon: quite often I see people confused about the actual ROM values their phones report. For example, the HTC Magic has 512MB of ROM (and 288MB RAM), but I see users saying "I only see xMB, but I'm supposed to have 512MB! Where is it?"

Your original post alludes to this where you say "From what I've gathered, the Internal Memory is just Flash Memory (a special type of ROM) partitioned into two parts, one for the OS and the rest for apps to use."

It might be helpful to clarify that if people are seeing less than the 512 MB of ROM, it's because of this partitioning, and give an example.

For example, on my HTC Magic when I run Useful Switchers, I can see that I have 180MB of 295MB available from my internal memory (ROM). So I can assume that the partition for the OS is 217MB, and the partition for apps is 295MB.
Quote:
Originally Posted by regression View Post
What programs (or are they built in) to view the amount of ROM / RAM being used? I downloaded an app called "Android System Info" and it says total internal memory (I assume that is ROM) is 159 megs. Total RAM is 192 megs......
I definitively found useful the Android System Info
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.electricsheep.asi&feature=search_re sult
which provides lots of detail about your phone. Regarding my interest here, the memory, for the NS it reports (after loading the apps that I had on the N1):
Data Max: 0.98GB/ Free 848MB
External Storage Max: 13.31GB/ Free: 12.13GB
Compared to the N1 that reported something like 196 MB Max and 26 MB Free
For the apps that you can move to SD, now it says something like move to USB storage, so those apps can still be moved out of the internal (1GB) memory, if I ever need it. So Thumbs up for the NS regarding memory 

Another tool that I used was Disk Usage
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.android.diskusage&feature=se arch_result
which lists very nicely all apps and free space (that is visible with a non rooted device)
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 11:28 AM   #45 (permalink)
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1st, thanks for all the information in this forum!! I've bookmarked it to refer back if needed. Can anyone tell me what things like flashing a Rom and RUU means? Obviously I'm somewhat of a noob. Thanks again.
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The Sprint HTC Hero was announced on September 3rd, 2009, making Sprint the 2nd American mobile carrier to offer a phone based on Google's Android operating system. While HTC had already launched the Hero, making it available on European carrie... Read More



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