How much RAM is too much RAM?

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  • The Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G. We’re getting pretty wordy with these 5G phone names again.
  • When turned on, you can make out that smaller hole punch camera at the top.
  • The back, complete with the new rectangular camera array.

After the recent leak of live pictures of Samsung’s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S20, more details have started to trickle in about the upcoming device.
First, a recap: the Galaxy S20 is the follow-up to last year’s Galaxy S10. Samsung’s naming scheme is apparently changing, and a “Galaxy S11” is not a product that will be happening. It looks like it’s now going to be “Samsung Galaxy S [current year]” so this year it’s the S20. The model lineup is also changing, too, and we’re getting three sizes: the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and the highest-end phone, the Galaxy S20 Ultra. In the US, they’re all going to be 5G with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoCs, and internationally you should be able to find 4G and 5G versions with Samsung Exynos chips.
Now, the new stuff: Max Weinbach, the XDA author who scored the live pictures of the Galaxy S20, has some spec info.
The S20 Ultra 5G is going to keep the SD Card slot. Support for up to 1TB.
It will also be available in 128GB/256GB/512GB and have a 12GB and 16GB RAM option.
108MP main, 48MP 10x optical, 12MP ultra wide.
5000 mAh battery with 45W option fast charge. 0 to 100% in 74 min.
Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) January 13, 2020
16GB of RAM would be a new high point for smartphones. That is an absolutely ridiculous amount of memory and would outclass many laptops out there, which typically start at 8GB of RAM. As for what you’re supposed to do with all that memory, it might be useful for Samsung’s DeX desktop mode, which lets you kick the phone over to a full windowed PC interface by hooking it up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. A baseline of 12GBthe highest-end config for the Galaxy S10would be a big increase, too. As connected Samsung leaker Ice Universe points out, this will most likely be LPDDR5, which Samsung has already put into production.
The Galaxy S10 came in storage tiers of 128GB, 512GB, and 1TB, so the listed S20 tiers of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB would be a downgrade. The good news is that there’s still a MicroSD sloton the “Ultra” model, at least.
A 5000mAh battery sounds like a significant leap over the 4500mAh battery in the biggest Galaxy S10, the “5G” version, but keep in mind it’s going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting. In the US, it’s going to have to deal with the extra power draw of the Snapdragon 865’s separate 4G/5G modem, which should impact the battery more than a fully integrated solution. With speedy display panels being all the rage in 2020, the Galaxy S20 is also rumored to support a 120Hz display. More power draw from the display itself and more power draw from the CPU and GPU having to render everything at 120 frames per second should also affect battery life.And speaking of that 120Hz display, the one disappointing Galaxy S20 rumor comes from Ice Universe, who claims that the Galaxy S20 will need to reduce its screen resolution to run at 120Hz. It sounds like the two options will be a full-resolution 1440p image at the normal 60Hz or a reduced-resolution 1080p image at 120Hz. Do you want a clear image or faster scrolling? It’s not clear why Samsung would do something like this. Reducing the rendering resolution doesn’t have a huge impact on battery life, so are the CPU and GPU the issue? Maybe the phone is just not fast enough for a 1440p, 120Hz image.
Weinbach lists a 108MP camera for the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which would use pixel binning to combine nine pixels into a single pixel for better light collection, outputting a 12MP image. We’re still not clear how the cameras will pan out across the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra or how the camera block designs will look. There are real-life pictures of the S20+ camera arrangement, but what about the other models? The earlier render with the weirdly disorganized camera array was for the “Galaxy S11+,” aka the biggest version of the 2020 Galaxy S line. Under the new naming scheme, the biggest version of the Galaxy S isn’t the S20+, it would be the S20 Ultra, which we haven’t seen yet. So no one knows if the crazy camera array is really happening or not.
The phone is scheduled for a launch event on February 11, but there will no doubt be more leaks between now and then.