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Why does Android need high specs?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by rozenman, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. rozenman

    rozenman Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hey guys,
    I was wondering why does Android OS need high specs to run smoothly?
    Why "simple" phones, with like 1GB RAM and dual-core processor have lags, while with other operation systems (aka iOS and WP) you will never notice any lags or slowness (even with lower specs than these).. Is there something that different in Android's core architecture that make Android run smoothly only with really strong hardware?

    I am really interested in this, as I've just started learning computer science and programming..

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  2. dibblebill

    dibblebill Android Expert

    iOS and Windows Phones both have high end specs. I've had several dual core services running at 1-1.3GHz with 1GB of RAM with no lag or slowness. On the other hand, my old phone barely had the RAM to run the OS. It ran Android fine, but not games or anything. Just like a computer and older Apple devices running newer applications.
  3. Welcome to Android Forums.

    The problems can be caused by misbehaving apps that you install (there are over a million of them in Play Store now), contaminated cache, or upgrade problems that finally appear.

    It is highly recommended that you do a Factory Data Reset with any major system upgrade wiping all apps and data that you had previously installed and then reinstalling.

    After that you if you are on Jelly Bean and you run into a problem you can run in Safe Mode disabling all apps you added without uninstalling them. If the problem goes away it is pretty certain that an app you installed is the cause.

    Apps save date in the cache and over time it can become contaminated. If you did the Factory Data Reset after upgrade and it is slowing down the clearing the cache may correct the problem.

    ... Thom
  4. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;)

    If you try android on a galaxy nexus (pretty old phone now) youll see how fast it is. The problem is that theres thousands of different android phones and the manufacturer add a heavy skin to them so they arent running pure android and they lag. apple phones are running pure ios built exclusively for the iphone.
    Try a phone running an almost pure version of android and its a whole other experience :)
    stratct likes this.
  5. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor

    I have a dual core mid range Samsung phone which is basically the same specs as an iPhone 4S and it runs pretty good and smooth. Of course there are some games that it finds difficult to run. But it does so on iOS as well. My friend's iPhone lags on Asphalt 8.
  6. rozenman

    rozenman Lurker
    Thread Starter

    cool guys, thanks!
  7. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood

    Welcome to the forums!! :D

    Android can run on lower specd phones just fine. The problem is, not all of "android" is created equal.

    The problem tends to be, each manufacturer adds their own "skin" or overlay on top of the base android code. The only devices that ship free of these overlays are nexus devices.

    To do a comparison, lets take a look at a ROM (the operating system) for a nexus device. The total size of the ROM comes in around 100-140MB.

    Now on my Galaxy SIII, the size of the ROM is over 800MB. Samsung added 650+ MB (or 5X the original size of android) of software "enhancements" to the stock android to make their flavor of android "touchwiz". Many of these added features run in the background to keep track of your eyes (such as "Smart Stay" or "Smart Scroll"), or actively monitor the devices sensors for gesture based things.

    Thats why so many people in the rooting community are trying to get back to these "stock" android ROMS. They are much slimmer, have performance gains, and generally are better on battery.
    Crashdamage and funkylogik like this.
  8. redpill2016

    redpill2016 Well-Known Member

    I just upgraded my iPhone 4 to iOS7 and it seems to run slower, especially Safari. So I think it's just a matter of matching the right software to the right hardware.
  9. jhawkkw

    jhawkkw Chinchillin'

    Roms are only that small because they don't have GAPPS baked into them like Nexus factory images do. Those stock roms from Samsung and HTC do have GAPPS baked in. So if you count the fact that you need them, the actual rom clocks in between 250-300MB. Still much smaller though.
    funkylogik and Rxpert83 like this.
  10. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor

    It's just that the hardware can't compensate. Apart from the usual services, you have a live wallpaper with parallax effect and many transparent and active icons running. Same reason why some low end Androids run slower when you try to customise them too much.
  11. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood

    Doh! Get your maths outta here ;)

    You're right, I did forget about the gapps add-on
  12. dibblebill

    dibblebill Android Expert

    Still, the 800MB for a ROM is bloated. I can get an all-in-one ROM with AOKP, PA, and CM in it, clocked in at 197MB + 100-150MB for GApps.
  13. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;)

    True man. My aosp based rom (hybrid rom with lots of enhancements) and full gapps on my sgs3 add up to 1.6GB but the speed and smoothnes is like night and day compared to touchwiz :thumbup:
  14. Slug

    Slug Check six!
    VIP Member

    It doesn't include the 'Smart Stuff' that Samsung include to differentiate their devices and appeal to buyers, though. That's one of Android's biggest strengths.... diversity and choice.
    funkylogik likes this.
  15. aysiu

    aysiu Android Expert

    I don't know about Windows phone, but I would say for iOS it's because Apple has taken a very cautious approach to multi-tasking, opting to freeze apps rather than continue to run the apps in the background.

    There are many things I love Android for (and prefer it for). I have not, however, had a good multi-tasking experience on Android. And I've had the MyTouch 3G, the MyTouch 4G, the Galaxy Nexus, and the Nexus 7. I've got 1 GB of RAM on my Galaxy Nexus, which should be plenty for what I do, but if I'm listening to a podcast and I switch back and forth between some apps, eventually the podcast app will get killed when I run out of memory.

    What I would love is for it to be a standard part of Android that you can designate certain apps as "never kill" apps and then have whatever foreground app take up as much RAM as possible that's leftover, and kill the rest.

    I don't use a Task Killer. I also don't buy the party line of "Just let Android handle all the RAM." Android handles the RAM terribly. So do Task Killers. If there was one thing I would change about Android, it would be the RAM handling.

    Even my Nexus 7 with 2 GB of RAM sometimes seems sluggish switching between apps.

    Everything else about Android I love. Love the Google Play store. Love the Gmail app. Love the quick toggles. Love the soft nav buttons. Love all that.
    funkylogik likes this.
  16. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Can't just be RAM though: my HTC One, also with 2GB RAM but with a Sense-based ROM (Android+manufacturer skin, so should be larger) does not lag at all switching apps. Don't recall it doing so when I ran unmodified HTC software either.

    I do like the "don't kill" list idea though (or rather a heavy weighting against killing, since if you have too many apps on that list the system will have to make a choice at some point).

    BTW with my last phone my favourite Gingerbread ROM fitted into 60MB (SUroot's very stripped-down Desire ROM). Now IIRC the only Gapp included in the ROM was the Market (not Play), and others you added as user apps if you wanted them, but for comparison CyanogenMod 7 (also GB) for the same phone was about 140 MB. I'm mildly curious as to how small JellyBean could be stripped down to, but not going going to go there just now (I mean I'm not even running AOSP at the moment...).
    Crashdamage and funkylogik like this.
  17. funkylogik

    funkylogik share the love peeps ;)

    Id like to be able to prioritise apps on a scale of 1 to 5 for how theyre prioritised in ram when it gets limited. Id imagine it isnt the amount of total ram a phone has that causes multitasking lag but the way either the OS or the apps handle it? Think some apps are prioritised too high so itd be nice to manually adjust that.
    Do any roms have that option?
    Must say though, the multitasking on my 1.5yr old 1gb phone is pretty sweet and seamless
  18. aysiu

    aysiu Android Expert

    That's what I think, too. There's absolutely no reason 2 GB shouldn't be enough. At most I'm running three apps simultaneously, and only two I care about.
  19. Medion

    Medion Android Expert

    There are many reasons that the iPhone's OS is consistently more fluid (and still is). My wife's iPhone 4s has a more consistent UI throughout than my Galaxy S4 GPe. I'll focus on a few quick reasons for this, but there are several more, some of which were touched upon already. But they can be summed up in two terms; higher specs on the iPhone and lower overhead on the iPhone.

    Some people don't want to hear that the iPhone is higher specced than their Android device of choice. However, these people would be well served to look at the history of Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 and the Core 2 Duo E8400. On paper, the Q6600 was more powerful. However, it couldn't reach the same clock speeds as the dual-core E8400. Since most applications are not quad-threaded, the E8400 was (and still is) noticeably faster in most games.

    We're seeing a similar approach with the Moto X. The Moto X and HTC One essentially have the same CPU and GPU combo, except that the Moto X uses a dual-core CPU. And yet, the X outpaces the HTC One in most benchmarks (except the most demanding synthetic CPU benchmarks). That is likely due to thermal throttling. The combination of too much heat (small form factor) and no real need for those four cores leads the system to throttle down to a lower speed than the Moto X, leading to lower effective performance.

    Apple has always had a capable CPU paired with the best GPU (usually a generation ahead of what's on Android). On top of that, Apple had a heavily GPU accelerated UI before Android did. Lastly, Apple had lower overhead.

    Take for instance, the home screen. In early 2010, it was the Nexus One versus the iPhone 3Gs. The Nexus One had to account for at least three active screens (application drawer, notification shade, and home screen) at 800x480 resolution, while the iPhone 3Gs had just a 320x240 home screen. Assuming 24-bit color, 8-bit transparency, 60fps, and nothing fancy, we're talking about a fill-rate requirement of 276.5 megapixels (Nexus One) versus 18.5 megapixels (iPhone 3Gs). But here's the problem...the Adreno 200 inside the Nexus One had a peak fill-rate of 90 megapixels. The only thing hardware accelerated back then was the notification shade. Apple had significantly less overhead because it wasn't trying to do as much.

    Lastly, there's a "communication" issue. Apple deals primarily with native apps, while Android deals primarily with Java (via Dalvik) and HTML 5 (through a Java interface...through Dalvik). Apple's approach is like two guys communicating with English. Android's is like two guys speaking different languages using a translator, at best. Their HTML approach is like four people communicating, each speaking two languages, trying to relay messages between person 1 and person 4.

    Don't get me wrong. Android is a far superior operating system when it comes to what's under the hood and what can be done. But Apple has always prioritize UI interaction, to a fault. As a result, iOS has always been and likely will continue to be the more fluid operating system.

    Summary: This is a relatively simplistic explanation. There are many more issues that come into play, but the overall theme is that Android does more, causing more overhead, and it often does more with less.
  20. ari-free

    ari-free Android Expert

    ios has its roots in MacOS X, which goes back years before Android. And what was the constant complaint of Mac OS X? It was lack of 'teh snappy.' It took quite a while for Apple to fix these problems but once they did, they had a solid foundation for ios with OS X.

    Apple had years of OS experience going all the way back to the Apple 2 and Next while Google devs could only count on their experience with Danger, Be and some time with Palm (not even the PalmOS or WebOS that some may be familiar with but rather an unreleased OS for Palm called Cobalt). Google works very quickly but you can't ignore the huge experience bench that Apple has.
    funkylogik likes this.
  21. bjacks12

    bjacks12 Android Expert

    I would have a hard time calling my Nexus non-fluent. It works so perfectly and smoothly, I can't imagine it getting better.
  22. aysiu

    aysiu Android Expert

    I don't call my Android phone non-fluent, either, but there are times it stutters unnecessarily. It's not a horrible experience, of course. It's just the priorities are a bit out of whack sometimes.

    My Galaxy Nexus has 1 GB of RAM. Yet sometimes (on rare occasion) if I press the Home button, it won't go to the home screen right away. It'll take an extra second or two. Why? By pressing the Home button, I'm telling the OS that getting to the home screen is the priority. Whatever other multi-tasking in the background should either be put on hold or given a lower priority. Clearly that's not happening.

    I've tried stock, factory images, rooted roms, Sense... I've always had this experience. It hasn't deterred me from getting Android devices, and I'm planning on a Moto X next. I just don't get why Android wouldn't prioritize resources better.
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