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Samsung might launch the S22 Ultra with less RAM, but that's okay

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Module Closeup
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Module Closeup (Image credit: Android Central)

If Samsung decides to launch the Galaxy S22 Ultra phones with less RAM (random access memory), it won't be a "deal-breaker" for consumers, despite it being a "straight downgrade" to the S21 Ultra devices, experts say. They add that it would be disappointing, but Samsung has a clear reason for targeting a specific demographic who want a premium phone without having too much power.

Samsung is expected to launch the S22 series on February 9, and while the standard and Plus models aren't expected to change too much, the S22 Ultra may see the most drastic change of the series.

Rumors and leaks have pointed to Samsung lowering the base RAM of the S22 Ultra to 8GB, down from 12 GB on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. RAM would top out at 12 GB instead of 16GB. Yet rumors indicate that the phone will arrive with the same launch price as its predecessor.

One reason why Samsung might have chosen to go this route could be because it is still dealing with the effects of the global chip shortage, which has impacted the availability of many of the best Android phones. Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's worldwide device tracker, says this is likely what has impacted Samsung's specs decision.

But he adds that for the average consumer, the replacement cycle for a phone tends to be above three years, "so realistically those who purchase the S22 Ultra would be upgrading from an S9 or S10 era phone and back then it was still common to have 6GB RAM."

If the S22 launches with less RAM, it's not a deal-breaker

He adds for most average consumers, RAM as a spec is "far less important than other features such as camera, processor, screen, and battery life."

"Assuming that the S22 Ultra launches with less RAM than the S21 Ultra, it won't have a huge impact on [Samsung's] sales," he says.

Mishaal Rahman, senior technical editor at Esper and former editor-in-chief of XDA Developers, agrees, adding that it's not a "deal-breaker" if the S22 Ultra had less RAM than its predecessor.

But in saying that, he notes that a consumer willing to spend upwards of $1,200 on one of Samsung's premium flagship devices will "expect nothing but the best."

He notes that while it might be too soon for the company's next-generation LPDDR5X module to be included in the S22 series, he expects the series to feature Samsung's slower LPDDR5 modules.

"That means that assuming the rumors are true, the base model S22 Ultra is a straight downgrade compared to the base model S21 Ultra when it comes to RAM capacity," he says.

Do we actually need more RAM in a phone or is less RAM okay?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Rahman explains that for most phones there should be a bare minimum of 6GB of RAM, and anything beyond offers minimal benefits.

"The last time I used an Android phone with 4GB of RAM, I had a miserable experience when trying to replicate my workflow on a phone with 12Gb of RAM. Apps would frequently be unloaded from memory after putting them in the background. This was especially noticeable when playing music in the background, leaving multiple Chrome tabs open, or opening the camera app to take a photo," he says.

The amount of physical memory, or the RAM, that is available plays a huge difference in performance, Rahman explains, adding that the more memory available the more processes that can run in the background.

But most average users rarely notice a difference, he adds.

"The RAM capacity is not a figure that most consumers care about, and it's not a specification that will appear on most of the marketing material for the S22 series. Samsung will undoubtedly target as many different audience segments as possible, however, and mobile gamers are more likely to pay attention to the amount of RAM in a device. To those consumers, Samsung may choose to market its higher RAM [stock keeping units] and its 'RAM Plus' feature, which reserves space on the devices' internal flash storage for additional swap space," — Mishaal Rahman, senior technical editor at Esper

Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint Research, says the users that really care about more RAM are the "premium power users" who look to invest and get the latest and greatest. He adds that they understand that 4K video recording and size of images for 108MP camera warrants a higher RAM + ROM configuration."

But perhaps, with a premium phone with less RAM, Samsung is catering to "less power users who don't look at memory configurations but look at just sporting the latest premium device from a design and brand's aesthetic perspective."

"We will have to see if this happens, what is Samsung's explanation with respect to 8GB+128GB entry-tier version if it is certain market-specific or demographic-specific," he says.

While having 8GB might be enough for most use case scenarios, Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, believes that "12GB should be the standard for flagship devices and 8GB should be table stakes."

"I think that if the S22 Ultra has less RAM than the S21 Ultra it won't necessarily appear as premium without some added features," he says.

Will consumers care that the S22 Ultra's RAM is potentially smaller?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in Phantom Black

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

"Apple, for example, never advertises the amount of RAM in its iPhones. When targeting those consumers, Samsung has no need to advertise the RAM capacity of its phones, because it's not a figure that those consumers care about," he says.

Android Central recently conducted a poll asking readers if they cared that Samsung may lower the RAM.

Out of more than 1,100 votes, 54% said they would prefer that Samsung keep the same RAM configurations as last year or increase it. Of the total votes, 36% say that the rumored 8GB base RAM is fine, but Samsung should offset the downgrade by lowering the cost of the phone or at least increasing storage memory.

Only 8% say they are okay with the rumored base RAM.

One reader, Steelatx, isn't too happy given the compromises Samsung has made with recent flagships:

"I didn't get the s21 because of the downgrade in screen resolution, lack of SD card, reduction in RAM, and the change in mobile payments. It seems that this iteration of the S22 (base) is going to be similar or more compromised.However, I got to thinking, what if Android 12 is a better more efficient OS with better memory management? Could this be a reason to cut RAM? Because the OS is no longer hogging it? Law of diminishing returns, right? If 8 gigs performs optimally, why do we need 12 or 16? Increased cost is all we'd be facing. I am in desperate need of a new phone, my s20s battery is shot, but not quite sure what to think. I need a small phone and even the s20 is too big :(."

And perhaps for users like Steelatx, the rumored smaller size of the regular S22 might be more attractive than choosing a model with more RAM.

There is also the potential that the 8GB Ultra model could convince buyers who have other priorities, including the fact that there is likely an S Pen support, a great battery life, and the promise of a high-quality camera.

Would it make more sense to have more storage if there is less RAM?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in Phantom Black

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Ubrani says that storage is more important for many users rather than RAM and "storage tends to get more important over time as many phones don't offer expandable storage anymore leaving users with limited storage over the lifetime of the phone."

He adds that it might be worth it for Samsung to explore focusing on larger storage options as a way to ease long-term concerns that users run into.

Sag is less convinced of this argument, adding that RAM is a commodity item and has a pretty stable price structure for manufacturers, especially for one like Samsung, which manufactures its own RAM and could use its own RAM at cost.

"It would be disappointing to see Samsung move away from providing more RAM considering it is one of the world's leading producers of RAM. It's a differentiator and to back away from that seems like a mistake," he says

In the same vein, Rahman agrees. He notes that past a certain threshold of RAM, increasing the RAM won't yield many benefits, while with storage, over time consumers require more.

"A few years ago, 64GB of storage space would have been adequate, but it's far too low today. Having adequate RAM and storage is necessary for a good user experience, but you can't supplement a deficiency in one by increasing the capacity of the other, because they serve very different purposes," he says.

Shruti Shekar
Shruti Shekar

Shruti Shekar is Android Central's senior reporter and also the second Canadian on the team. She was born in India, brought up in Singapore, but now lives in Toronto and couldn't be happier. She started her journalism career as a political reporter in Ottawa, Canada's capital, and then made her foray into tech journalism at MobileSyrup and most recently at Yahoo Finance Canada. When work isn't on her mind, she loves working out, reading thrillers, watching the Raptors, and planning what she's going to eat the next day.

36 Comments
  • I don't think it is ok. "Enough" isn't good enough on a device with the suffix of "Ultra".
  • Define "ENOUGH!" Rather ambiguous.
  • In this case, the definition of "enough" (lowercase without an exclamation mark, as originally written) would be 8 GB of RAM. Try to keep up old chap.
  • Most people don't know how much RAM their phone has, as long as the phone runs okay they won't care.
  • But those aren't the people buying the 1200 USD Ultra series of phones...
  • Maybe yes, maybe no. There's more to the Ultra vs. Plus than just RAM.
  • Ya know, it's people like yourself that allow these companies to give less for more. Do you honestly think a power user spending 1400.00 dollars plus for an "Ultra" won't care?? Reeeeally?
    A $249.00 Android phone will run " ok".
  • Hmm. why not put 32GB RAM then? There's always a ceiling.
  • I don't think the modules exist
  • There has already been more than one media outlet/reviewer out there that has proven 8GB RAM is more than enough for an Android phone.
    RAM is overly advertised and used as a selling feature.
  • And there have been several who have demonstrated that the extra Ram contributes to speed and performance.
  • And yet the iPhone 13 pro has only 4gb of ram......
  • The iPhone has the fastest mobile cpu of any smartphone. And it doesn't run Android.
  • And yet you're wrong as it has 6GB. The iphone without the pro distinction has 4.
  • Yes, you are right. I was meaning the regular. My bad..
  • Give a lower price of 200.00 less.
  • "Maybe Samsung is catering to an audience who doesn't care about power but wants a premium phone" See, this is where you lose me. What the heck is your definition of a premium phone - if not one that's powerful? One that has an expensive price tag? This entire article makes no sense. You're trying to convince us that Samsung is targeting a more mainstream demographic - by loeering the amount of RAM? That's the purpose for the S22 and S22 plus! Those are your "premium" phones for mainstream users and they have been for years. The Ultra and Note variants have always been for the power users. They combined those two into one device for power users and lower the RAM? AND take away the SD Card slot? If they try to still is at the same price point, not only will I NOT purchase this phone, I will waive plenty of people who come to me for tech advice, away from it.
  • Would be nice if I could edit some of the typos. "loeering" should be "lowering". "still" should be "sell".
  • Despite the typos he's 100 percent right. I'm not buying any more Samsung devices that don't have micro SD or come with at least 1tb. They've completely lost me and I'm with Sony now until they get it together.
  • Agreed, it's funny how they continuously try to gaslight us into thinking it's OK to settle for less while paying more.
  • I care if they're going to charge more! But otherwise I don't care. 8GB is fine. Remember 8GB RAM is still common on PCs and a phone isn't a PC.
  • An Android phone basically is. And Samsung's especially have been for a while. You could run Linux apps (though that project has been discontinued by Samsung), and can still hook it to a monitor for desktop experience. The premium phones are more powerful than your average laptop for a good reason. And 8GB has long been the bare minimum for a proper PC, not to mention a good one.
  • Someone at Samsung needs to go back to biz school. If you are pushing a flagship device that is somehow inferior to the outgoing one while charging the same amount, it's a tough sell to consumers. It's like Porsche releasing a new 911 and saying, "Performance and handling have declined, but most drivers won't notice on their commute to work." It's not about normal performance like checking email or browsing the web for most users buying flagship devices. Considering that the S21 had sales numbers that were disappointing to Samsung, their plan to rebound from it is to sell a lesser device for the same money, at a price point that people many flagship buyers were unwilling to pay for the "superior" S21? Either price it higher and provide more or drop the price. They already sell something "good enough" in the FE series (although those prices are starting to creep up).
  • S21 sold in record numbers. The S20 was the disaster. You are right, but I think part of the reason is that due to inflation and chip shortage there's a huge upward push on prices, and doing a compromise like this is part of the tradeoff. However, if they don't offer me an option to upgrade my S21U with 16GB of RAM, I'll be disappointed.
  • Samsung is acting just like the food companies and restaurants. The former... Same package, same price, less weight. Restaurants... raising prices, many are also serving reduced portions. Sammy is giving less RAM, increasing price.
  • It's called inflatation. But obviously device manufacturers are not selling the same thing as a pizza joint, and could cater to their power users accordingly.
  • Hey! My comment made the post! But seriously, a smaller phone for me is > than ram. I agree that 8 gigs is enough. However, I disagree with the downgrade in specs and features and the device being labeled as premium (the best of the best and highest cost.) At this point, why wouldn't I just get a zenfone 8? It's half the price and has the same features / performance as Samsung. The big caveat is that if you want ram the zenfone has 12gig + options. How is Samsung differentiating itself from the rest of the marketplace? This I think is the most important question in this argument.
  • The average person looking at a premium android phone cares about specs more than an iPhone owner.
    I Almost didn't buy my Note 20 Ultra because the base storage was half of my Note 10+. It's cheesy for a company to step down every 'upgrade.'
    With 8k video saving to a fixed internal storage (and no SD slot) the average person will really want a larger hard drive than 128g if they plan to actually use the phone. My current 12GB of RAM has 3.2GB free, and I'm just using Chrome to read this page. Whether it's due to inflated ratings or system processes, only 10GB of the rated 12 is actually usable memory.
    While efficiency may go up with progress, I sure wouldn't buy a computer with worse specs than one that was 3 years old. Premium Android phones generally are aimed at those who pay attention to specs, and Samsung should keep pushing the bar higher. Once Samsung gives up the hardware advantage it's going to have a tough time keeping customers from the big fruit company that believes its customers don't care about specs and has a better ecosystem.
  • I have been a Galaxy/Samsung Flaship user since the S5. They reduce the specs on their "premium" phones, I switch to Apple. I've already had it with S21 Ultra. I've been describing my S21 Ultra as ... a great camera, but a horrible phone. Sounds to me like S22 is going to be junk all around.
  • Less RAM is not okay. As others have said, they are getting rid of the Note but fusing it with the S Series to create the S22 Ultra. The Note is historically a "power user phone". Why include an S Pen if not aimed at power users? RAM matters where Android is concerned as it's RAM hungry. My wife's Oppo Find X3 Pro has 12GB RAM at a fraction of what Samsung are pushing. Why should Samsung users pay more for less?
  • I keep looking at these new announcements and it's making me love my S20+ even more.
  • I was very excited about owning the most powerful cellphone Samsung has ever produced. The S22 Ultra leaks were hyping the new processor with 16 gigabytes of ram and 1tb of storage, I was delirious with anticipation. Then I hear that the 1tb version wouldn't be available till later in the year, if at all. So I resigned myself to settle for 16gb of ram with 512gb of storage. Now they're saying there will only be 12gb of ram and 256gb of storage??? This is a dealbreaker for me. I'm out.....
  • Only two words for this. Samsung “****** up”. The S22 Ultra is a power phone (aimed for the power users willing to shell out 1200+ bucks for it). Makes no sense to reduce RAM on the Ultra model because it’s OBVIOUSLY going to be marketed as the best of the best that one can buy. And it will have trouble keeping that title on paper with 8 and 12 gigs of RAM instead of 12 and 16 gigs. One way Samsung can compensate for this is either increasing storage options or reducing the price.
  • "it won't be a "deal-breaker" for consumers, despite it being a "straight downgrade" to the S21 Ultra devices, experts say." Experts are idiots.
  • I am a tech guy but come on we are at a point that a mobile phone has as much ram than a high end gaming laptop and those have been at the 16gb sweet spot for quite a while. I don't see the overwhelming hype for more ram is better, to me it's just shows that android is very poorly optimized if it requires that much ram because let's face it you are not running nearly as heavy tasks as on windows, the apu simply can't handle that. Maybe Google needs to better optimize Android so we don't feel the need for so much ram on a device most of us are only going to be consuming content. I have 8gb and I can game just fine and do some video and photo editing, it's not like you will be running full premier or davinci resolve on your phone. Eventhough I love tech I'd say 8gb should be more than enough on the tasks you do with a phone especially if the os would be better optimized. Maybe if you're gaming and streaming of your phone at the same time you could benefit from more ram but that's such a niche market
  • That's a BS excuse. Chip shortage I can accept but not "most people won't need/notice it". Let me cut your left nut off, you're not using them, so you won't notice one missing.