Android Tut: What is the difference between RAM and ROM on Smartphones?

We will be starting a section based on demand on things regarding how you can better make use of your iOS and Android Smartphones and devices. These sections will be called Android Tut and iPhone Tut.

RAM and ROM are commonly thrown about terms when phone companies sell their phones but how much is enough and what does it actually affect.

According to the AndroidForum:

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-volatile). 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.

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 (volatile).
For the Hero this is 288MB.

In other words, ROM is like your file cabinet where you store all your folders and files if you use an office context to explain and RAM is the secretary that you hire to find these files when  you need.

So lets say you start off with 10 secretaries (which is equivalent to 300MB or RAM). If 9 of your secretaries are in the middle of finding things for you, essentially you are only left with 1 secretary to handle your incoming app request.

Running low on ROM Memory

If you are low on ROM Memory, it means you cannot install more applications on your phone. To install more applications without deleting, your Android phone will have to be on FROYO 2.2 where you will be able to move your apps to run on your SD card.

Alternatively, if you have ROOT your Android phone you may want to use this hack to move your apps to your SD card.

Running low on RAM Memory

If you are low on RAM Memory, it means that total applications running in the background is maxed out. This will greatly slow down current phone usage or the current apps you are running.

You will need a task killer application to kill some of these background applications to free up RAM Memory.

Kyith is a blogger with interest in all things on Wealth Mastery, Technology, Business and Productivity.
  • http://www.nokiashops.com abdul jabar

    If you are low on RAM Memory, it means that total applications running in the background is maxed out. This will greatly slow down current phone usage or the current apps you are running.

  • http://www.nokiashops.com abdul jabar

    RAM and ROM are commonly thrown about terms when phone companies sell their phones but how much is enough and what does it actually affect.

  • Elimathew

    If you are low on ROM Memory, it means you cannot install more applications on your phone. Then cant we store them on hardisk?

  • Bob

    amateur article. task killer app is NOT needed. learn some things about the linux kernel, then act like you know what you’re doing

  • Talibanishere

    easy-to-understand article.
    good for beginners

  • The Muss

    so rom is actually storage and ram is short time memory?

  • Supria

    Very clear and useful explanation!