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BlackBerry KEY2 and 6GB of RAM: Why it's a big deal

The BlackBerry KEY2 might look a lot like the KEYone on the outside, but under the glass, you'll find a whole new set of components. One thing that's new is already a welcome change — more memory. In this case, a lot more as the KEY2 ships with 6GB of RAM.

That's not uncommon in 2018. Samsung's Galaxy line comes with extra RAM, we saw the OnePlus 6 ship with oodles of it, and plenty of companies now offer flagship phones with more than the "industry standard" 4GB of RAM. It's also worth mentioning that no phone needs more than 4GB of RAM (at least not right now), but it's never a bad thing to have a little bit extra. In some cases, and this is one of them, it actually makes things better even if it's not a requirement.

More: BlackBerry KEY2 Hands-on

Space for features

Ask anyone who used a KEYone about the weird lag you see sometimes when you use the BlackBerry Hub. The original silver model that shipped with 3GB of RAM was much worse, but even the updated black version would still get a little slow, then stop completely for a fraction of a second from time to time whenever you opened up the Hub. Everything still worked as expected, but it was there and it was a thing you couldn't unsee.

The BlackBery Hub "app" ties into over 20 other apps and bundles a lot of data together. That needs lots of RAM.

It was because the BlackBerry Hub is a RAM hungry beast. We know this is true because Mr. Mobile and I spent an evening with one attached to the Android studio tool that monitors resource usage (it's called the Android Profiler) and watched things while we used one. You could see it suck up all the available RAM when you first opened it, and it was drawing your list of messages. Once all the free RAM was used, the system had to close something you're not using to free up more until everything was loaded and on the screen.

This is because of the way the Hub works. It's reading and writing a bunch of individual records from many different databases filled with data. This type of data needs read and written in order which means it takes up a tiny bit more memory for each listing. It also means the system can't try and do more than one thing at a time after its CPU cache is full. The Hub is a rich application and it has to work this way. I'm sure BlackBerry is always looking at how it can reduce the memory footprint, but BlackBerry Hub will always be a RAM hog. A worthy RAM hog for most people with the phone, but a hog all the same.

More is ... more

More features take more memory or more time. There is no way to get around this.

Adding memory means extra features can run faster and without any stuttering.

Adding extra RAM gives the Hub room for all this overhead. BlackBerry's core system may not be as bloated as other manufacturer software, but the Hub makes up for it. We know how extra RAM makes the Galaxy S9 seem more responsive while we're using it, and that's because Samsung's system components all take a bit more memory than "stock" Android versions do. That's what happens as you add features and most anyone with a Samsung phone will tell you they love the features and wouldn't complain if the phone was fluid all the time and didn't slow down on occasion. More RAM in the S9 is a way to get there.

Folks who have used the BlackBerry KEY2 aren't seeing the same "microstutter" that was present in the KEYone because there is more room in memory to read and write more single records. This is just like the S9 where 4GB was enough, but a bit extra makes software features run a little faster and smoother.

We all like faster and smoother. Anyone moving up from a Priv or a KEYone to the KEY2 is going to appreciate that extra spec bump in the memory department.

See at BlackBerry Mobile

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

19 Comments
  • As always.. Size matters.
  • Lol to the size matters comment and why can't Verizon just carry these already?
  • They've always been BlackBerry snobs. I could never figure out why they didn't carry the Bold 9000.
  • My business rep for AT@T said they will carry it but she didn't have a date of when which I can understand since no one knows when the unlocked releases either.
  • So more RAM means better performance? (shocker)... Why keep telling people that 4GB is enough when users complain of only 4GB on their latest flagship? Not just this site either - I feel like every site keeps telling people you don't need more than 4 GB when a reader mentions it.
  • Android by design is supposed to work with 4 GB ram. If your device approaches this threshold during usage the system will automatically shut down unused resources to ensure smooth running. Since the OS by design is not supposed to be utilising more than 4 GB at any given point of time is why we keep hearing the oft repeated, "4 GB is all you need" . I am not an expert but maybe if a resource hungry app like the Hub or maybe a large game is running there maybe RAM usage spikes which exceed what the system can handle even after shutting down unused processes. This is where available surplus RAM to manage the momentary overload might be helping out. I would defer to an expert in the know like Jerry to explain the nuts and bolts of Android's resource allocation algorithm better. 🙏
  • The Hub in Android has been terrible on devices with little RAM. Good move, BB.
  • I was told that 6 GB is overkill :)
    Phones Vanilla Android don't need much to run smoothly, but anything extra on top does require extra RAM. Samsung always comes to mind first. And even clean stock Android benefits, because it simply allows better multitasking experience. More apps are kept fully open and transitions are faster.
    Higher resolution displays also require more memory space.
    With this 2k trends, enhanced graphics in every little move and apps getting bigger, 6GB should be a standard.
  • 4GB RAM is enough for now, my Pixel 2 XL is fine with 4GB RAM and nobody leaves the ridiculous amount of apps open in these pointless speed tests I've watched on YouTube. I always close my apps anyway.
  • Figured this would help. Glad it does. The better processor probably helps, too. Let's hope they move up to the 700 series soon, too. 700 series with 8 gigs of ram should = battery life and performance. Dreams.
  • The 3 GB RAM was the main reason I refused to pay full price for the KEYone. I promised myself I'd wait for at least a $50 discount. Regarding those tests you and MrMobile conducted, were the results published somewhere? Months ago, I tried to figure out the cause of the Priv's slowness and couldn't come to any conclusions, so I appreciate you guys doing that! I'm not surprised by the conclusion because I've noticed the Hub is a hog since the Priv. I can't complain though because it's such a powerful tool. The KEY2 looks amazing but I think I'm going to wait for a discount again, mainly because I've only had the KEYone for about 9 months.
  • You only need more than 4gb of ram if your phone is loaded with BlackBerry or Samsung bloat.
  • Ain't gonna lie the key2 looks beautiful
  • As the article says, it depends how many messages and accounts you run through the hub. My phone has 2gb of ram and the hub runs fine because I use it for 2 personal email accounts and nothing else.
  • Jerry - any chance you know why Google Maps often lags a ton when opening up on my S7 Edge? Did you run that profiler with that app to see what resources it's sucking? Would a phone with more RAM be better for this or a phone with a better GPU or CPU or what? Or does having not that much storage free on my phones internal drive part of the problem as it might be on a computer? Really curious to know about this if you've actually tested it.
  • The hub needs a complete overhaul not just with the code but the aesthetics. It is ugly. Plus BB needs to do something with the ads. I keep hitting the dang ad everytime I open the dang thing. Plus, works horrendously with Gmail.
  • @mehofmann - describe how it works horrendously with gmail? It's an android/google OS. I'm just curious actually as someone who's had Samsung phones for years and is considering switching surprisingly to this BB phone of all phones.
  • Because the Key 1 ran like crap, they had to up the ram at least
  • This is about the limit of my knowledge:
    Without doing any research I'll offer a plausible reason 4 GB is advertised as enough ram: 32 bit processors can't read over ~4 GB of ram. 64 Bit processors can.
    In desktop situations lack of ram means things slow down as the OS utilizes dedicated disk space as ram, not familiar with SOC structures; That they drop apps from memory suggests they don't do this.