What is UFS 3.0, and why should you care?

Best answer: UFS 3.0 is the latest iteration of Universal Flash Storage, a storage standard designed for the likes of smartphones and digital cameras. UFS offers read and write speeds that are significantly faster than eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) while retaining the same power consumption figures. Think it of as a mobile SSD for your phone.

UFS delivers SSD-like speeds on smartphones

UFS (Universal Flash Storage) has emerged as the preferred flash memory standard for high-end phones in recent years. eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) is still the most prominent memory standard around — with the Pixel 3a series using an eMMC 5.1 storage module — but UFS offers significantly higher bandwidth while consuming the same amount of power.

UFS was primarily designed to deliver SSD-like speeds on mobile devices. The first-gen UFS modules offered three times faster file copying times, as well as vast improvements in multitasking over eMMC modules. UFS is able to do this as it is a full duplex standard, meaning it can read and write data simultaneously. By contrast, eMMC can only read or write data at any given time.

Here's a quick illustration to give you an idea as to how quickly the standard has evolved in just a few years.

Category Sequential Read (MB/s) Sequential Write (MB/s) Random Read (IOPS) Random Write (IOPS)
UFS 3.0 2100 410 68,000 63,000
UFS 2.1 850 260 45,000 40,000
UFS 2.0 350 150 19,000 14,000
eMMC 5.1 250 125 11,000 13,000

UFS 3.0 introduces sizeable gains in performance from UFS 2.1, with the standard now offering sequential reads of 2,100MB/s and writes of 410MB/s. And when you pit it against eMMC 5.1, there's a 6x increase in random read and an 8.5x increase in sequential reads. UFS relies on a dual-lane system wherein there are two channels for reading and two for writing data, and the way it works is similar to that of MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) in networking.

That's more than adequate for everything from seamless 4K video playback to intensive gaming and all mobile VR use cases. Theoretically, you won't even notice any difference between a phone running UFS 2.1 and one using UFS 3.0. With sequential reads of over 2Gbps, the storage module isn't going to be the bottleneck anytime soon, and at this point, UFS 3.0 is simply a way to future-proof your device.

Your phone doesn't need — or even won't make use of — all of that RAM and high-bandwidth storage, but a few years down the line it could start to make a difference. What it all boils down to is that your OnePlus 7 Pro isn't going to slow down anytime soon.

Beyond speed

OnePlus 7 Pro

The fastest phone on the market today.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the first phones to feature UFS 3.0 storage, and the rest of the hardware is just as impressive. You get a Snapdragon 855, a QHD+ display with 90Hz refresh rate for buttery-smooth scrolling, and up to 12GB of RAM as well as a massive 4000mAh battery. When it comes to specs, OnePlus is once again showing that it is the company to beat.

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