I have found that a significant number of people have RAM optimisers on their smartphones. I would see those RAM Cleaner apps but it didn’t register in my mind just how many people were using those useless apps.
Then I looked at the top apps in Zimbabwe. Turns out that people really do love those phone boosters. On the Google Play Store, five such apps crack the top 20 free app downloads this mid-March 2022.
The five are SHAREit Lite (3), Junk Smasher (9), Smart Clean (11), Safe Clean (15) and Clean Keeper (16).
Apple Airpods pro
Lenovo ThinkPad T460
3TB Desktop HDD
Macbook Air 2015
We all know SHAREit and know that its main feature is fast file sharing. If you can even get to that with all the ads and videos. The app got so convoluted and unpopular they had to create a Lite version that reverted to what SHAREit was at the beginning. It is this Lite version which is popular now.
We also know that SHAREit also packs a lot of extra features that no one ever asked for. Wouldn’t you know it, even the Lite version packs a junk cleaner, ram optimiser and battery saver. You don’t need all this, and in most phones you don’t even need the file sharing feature. Most modern phones have Nearby Share, try that instead.
The other 4 apps above do not really have a killer feature besides the ram optimising, junk cleaning and magical battery life improving sauce. You don’t need this. So, just as SHAREit is redundant now, the other four are even more useless.
The idea with ram cleaning apps is that your phone might not have adequate RAM. Most budget Android phones, like the itel A26 have 2GB, whilst flagships mostly have 8GB with some models packing as much as 16GB.
Ram cleaners claim that when RAM fills up it leads to reduced performance. Some apps have to be removed from RAM to restore performance. So, by having a RAM cleaner you ensure that your phone always performs perfectly. WRONG!
Remember that RAM is the fast memory in your phone in which the operating system, apps and data in current use are stored.
For you to use, say WhatsApp, it has to be loaded in RAM first. When you hit home and open Facebook, it too will be loaded into RAM. As you open more apps, you will reach the point where your RAM is not enough to keep all those open apps.
Android will compress the oldest and least used pages of memory but still store it in RAM (zRAM). However, even with the clever compressions, RAM and zRAM may fill up.
Your phone will therefore remove some app or apps so you can load the new app. Android and iOS do this really well. You will notice some apps starting over from scratch when you open them, indicating that they had been removed from memory.
In all this, notice how Android is perfectly capable of managing RAM. You don’t need an app to do that, your phone manages RAM well out of the box.
Tests have shown how much RAM some popular apps use:
Chrome – 2.2GB
Subway Surfers – 750MB
Candy Crush – 300MB
My phone reports WhatsApp often using a maximum of around 355MB, but an average of 24MB.
How the RAM cleaners actually hurt
Let’s say you want to respond to your friend asking for $100 on WhatsApp. You switch to the messages app to see the balance in your EcoCash account from the last text they sent to you. Then you switch back to WhatsApp to tell your friend he’s out of luck, there is $2.41 in your account.
You will notice that when you go back to WhatsApp, the app is ready and still in your friend’s chat. However, if you had an aggressive RAM cleaner it would have killed WhatsApp when you switched to Messages. Resulting in WhatsApp having to be opened from scratch.
That sucks for a couple of reasons:
One, the experience is terrible. You can’t be waiting for the same few apps to reload every time you tap on them. It’s even worse when you have a flagship phone with 8GB RAM which would be perfectly capable of keeping over 10 apps in memory.
Two, opening apps is taxing on the battery. The phone’s processor is called into action hard when an app needs to be opened. So the phone uses more power and drains the battery faster when you constantly have to open apps from scratch, as opposed to just switching back to them.
You can look up battery tests that show that the app opening cycle is the hardest on the processor and battery. So, it’s ironic that the would-be battery saving technique of ram cleaning actually leads to worse battery life.
Note: you should not be concerned that your RAM is full. In memory management philosophy free memory is wasted memory. So, you don’t have to close apps unless they are malfunctioning/misbehaving. You can do this via your phone’s settings and so do not need a RAM cleaner app even then.
This is actually a somewhat useful feature. Every once in a while you should remove the trash in your phone. Android already does a good job of managing this but you may want to jump in and delete those WhatsApp group chat auto-downloaded Merry Christmas images from 2019.
If you have been getting your WhatsApp updated by receiving apk’s through SHAREit, those apk’s are still just wasting your space. They need to go.
Like I said, Android out of the box can help you do that. Usually in Settings, under Storage you can delete temporary files and raw files, go through the Downloads folder and also be shown the idle apps you can uninstall. Why do you still have that app you haven’t opened in 15 months? It has to go.
The junk cleaner apps can even make the clean up process easier and so better. They can show you files that are duplicated in your storage and the photos that are already backed up to the cloud so that you can delete them. They also wipe cache data from apps, purge empty folders, and delete various histories. That’s in addition to revealing junk files and unused apps.
I would recommend Files by Google for this purpose. Being a google app you won’t have to contend with ads in the app. Neither will it be bloated with useless RAM cleaners like most other junk cleaners are.
Battery savers, CPU coolers and phone boosters
Your phone has its own battery saver. It mostly reduces your phone’s performance and restricts what apps can do in the background. Of course, the usual battery chowers, Auto-sync, GPS, WiFi, mobile data and Bluetooth are also switched off.
You don’t need an extra app to pretend to do this for you. Some of these apps will tell you that the battery has been optimised when nothing has been done. Stick to the phone’s battery saving settings.
CPU coolers are just RAM cleaners by another name. Their fib is that all those apps in RAM overwork the processor, leading to heat and battery drain. Hence by dumping apps from RAM they cool the CPU. You don’t need these shenanigans in your life.
Phone boosters are yet again RAM cleaners in a different suit. They don’t actually boost anything. As we discussed they make things worse in most cases.
So, please, delete that RAM cleaner/ CPU cooler/ Phone Booster/ Battery Saver – you don’t need it. You are probably worse off for having it.