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Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: What can you do with 12GB of RAM and 1TB storage?

The 1TB variant of Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus has 12GB of RAM, but is it actually useful? Let's find out.

Published onApril 7, 2019

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus comes with various storage capacities: 128GB, 512GB and 1TB. The 128GB and 512GB variants have 8GB of RAM, but the 1TB variant is unique, offering 12GB of RAM. If you are willing to pay nearly $1,600 you can get a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus with 1TB of storage, 12GB of RAM in either Ceramic Black or Ceramic White. In my unboxing video I asked, “is it worth $1,600?”

Assuming you think the answer is “yes,” the next question is what you can do with it.

12GB of RAM

Android RAM management can be complex. I did deep dives into the details in a video and an article, but to quickly summarize: When you start a new app and there isn’t enough RAM available, Android will kill an older app to free up memory.

The 1TB variant of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus comes with 12GB of RAM. At boot, there is around 8.5GB free and 2.5GB earmarked for zRAM swapping. Different apps have different memory requirements. A modest game like 2048 needs less than 100MB. A casual game like Rise Up needs less than 250MB. A big game like Fortnite or Need For Speed: No Limits needs anything from 800MB to 1GB, or more.

Ignoring GPU, general performance requirements, and so on, devices with at least 3GB can play the most strenuous games. If you are a casual gamer, 2GB still works even in 2019.

The issue with RAM is not if you can run one app, but how many apps can you keep in memory before older apps need to be removed to make way for new launches.

In the article I mentioned above I looked at how much RAM you really need and concluded that 4GB is usable, between 6GB and 8GB is the sweet spot, and anything more is just a waste.

My time with the 12GB version of the S10 Plus hasn’t changed my mind.

To test the usefulness of 12GB of RAM, I launched an app, recorded the amount of resources used, and then launched another, and so on, until the out-of-memory (OOM) killer removed its first app from memory.

Starting from 8601MB available, I launched Ram Truth, Smash Hit, and Asphalt 9. The available memory dropped by just over 1.5GB to 7034MB, which was expected as Asphalt 9 is a big game. Next, I launched the Play Store, Stack, 2048, Temple Run 2, Real Racing and Need For Speed: No Limits. At this point, the available memory dropped to 4865MB. Real Racing and Need for Speed are also memory hungry apps.

Next I launched Color Bump and the phone starting using zRAM swapping, to the tune of 1MB! From there the pressure started to increase on the device to find room in RAM for the apps. Subway Surfer, Rise Up, Termux, and PUBG Mobile all followed. Swap usage increased to 636MB and the available RAM went down to 3670MB. Remember all the other apps were still in memory at this point, so we had Asphalt 9, Real Racing, Need for Speed: No Limits, PUBG, and a range of more modest apps all residing in RAM.

Between 6GB and 8GB is the sweet spot, and anything more is just a waste. My time with the 12GB version of the S10 Plus hasn’t changed my mind.

I launched Waze, then Fortnite, followed by MS Office, Google Photos, Chrome (with 10 tabs open), and Happy Glass. Available RAM went down to 2774MB, while the zRAM usage went up to 1797MB. Since zRAM is also part of the overall RAM usage, clearly the memory was getting full. Next, I launched Drum Pad Machine, which caused the OOM killer to activate, killing Smash Hit and removing it from RAM.

So the 1TB variant of the S10 Plus can hold at least 20 apps in memory simultaneously including five very large and memory hogging games.

1TB Storage

Two key attributes of a device’s internal storage are its capacity (in this case 1TB) and its speed. When I did my unboxing video quite a few people remarked on the “used” and “free” numbers shown by Android.

Having just unboxed and started the device, it was reporting 88.7GB used of 1024GB with 935.3GB free. 88.7GB, yes you read that right. It turns out this seems to be a bug/feature in Samsung’s One UI software (as I’m seeing the same thing on my Note 8 with One UI). It is incorrectly calculating the total size as 1,024GB and then calculating the “used” space by subtracting the “free” space from that 1,024GB total. The problem is what is a gigabyte? Is a gigabyte 1,000,000,000 bytes (i.e. 1,000^3 bytes) or 1,073,741,824 bytes (i.e. 1,024^3). Technically one gigabyte is 1,000^3 and one gibibyte is 1,024^3.

The size of the usable internal storage (excluding all the OS partitions, etc.) on the 1TB S10 Plus is 982,984,064 bytes. Which is 982.9GB or 937.4GiB. The settings menu is actually displaying gibibytes not gigabytes, but calling it gigabytes. This is a common problem. So 1,024 minus 937.4 is 86.6, which then is being shown as 86.6GB. Once you add the pre-installed apps (2.1Gib) , this jumps to 88.7GB.

The 1TB S10 Plus has enough space for 40,000 photos, plus 33 hours of recorded footage, plus six weeks of non-stop music, plus 200 hours of Netflix, and there would still be more free space than the 128GB model!

The real sum should be 1,000 minus 982.9, which is 17.1GB, plus the pre-installed apps. If you what to know more about this subject, I get into it in this video.

Ignoring the difference between a gigabyte and a gibibyte, the storage on the 1TB S10 Plus is massive. Assuming one photo (taken on the device) uses 5MB of storage, a minute of video (recorded on the device) takes 100MB, a minute of music uses 3MB, and one hour of high-quality Netflix downloads uses 1,000MB, the 1TB S10 Plus has enough space for 40,000 photos, plus 33 hours of recorded footage, plus six weeks of non-stop music, plus 200 hours of Netflix, and there would still be more free space than the 128GB model!

Generalizing the overall performance of the internal storage of any device can be tricky. Flash memory has some interesting characteristics. Writing to the storage is always slower than reading. That’s OK for a smartphone, as most of the time you are reading (loading apps, viewing movies, listening to music), but write speed is also important (downloading the latest social media posts, receiving your email, installing apps, recording 4K video). The read and write speeds can differ depending on the size of the data. Reading a big sequential chunk of data is different to reading 500 small files. The same is true of writing.

Therefore internal storage tests (often referred to as Input and Output tests, or IO tests) are often split into four: Sequential Write, Sequential Read, Random Write and Random Read. To test the IO speed of the 1TB S10 Plus, I used an app called Cross Platform Disk Test (CPDT), a disk speed test tool that runs on Android, macOS and Windows. I compared the internal storage speed of the S10 Plus with the HUAWEI P30 Pro and the OnePlus 6T.

Here are the results, with all the scores in MBps:

DeviceSeq write [4MB]Seq read [4MB]Random write [4KB]Random read [4KB]
Galaxy S10 Plus 1TB
Seq write [4MB]
Seq read [4MB]
Random write [4KB]
Random read [4KB]
Seq write [4MB]
Seq read [4MB]
Random write [4KB]
Random read [4KB]
OnePlus 6T
Seq write [4MB]
Seq read [4MB]
Random write [4KB]
Random read [4KB]
Typical PC SSD
Seq write [4MB]
Seq read [4MB]
Random write [4KB]
Random read [4KB]

Overall, the IO speed of the 1TB S10 Plus is pretty competitive with its closest rivals. It offers the fastest sequential write speed, but it has the slowest sequential read speed, the slowest random write speed, and the slowest random read speed. It’s worth noting the all-rounder performance of the OnePlus 6T 128GB here, but it is also interesting to see the random write and the random read speed of the P30 Pro, which is clearly in a league of its own.

I also added the results for a typical desktop PC SSD drive, so you can see the difference between our mobile devices and a desktop machine!

Too much?

$1,600 for a smartphone is a lot of money, especially when you can buy a Galaxy S10e and a Dell gaming laptop for the same total price. You could even get the 512GB variant of the Galaxy S10 and still have change from $1,600 to buy a PlayStation 4! Clearly having lots of RAM and lots of storage means the 1TB S1 Plus is highly capable, you probably don’t need to store six weeks of non-stop music, plus 200 hours of high-quality Netflix downloads on your smartphone.

Do you need a device capable of keeping Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Real Racing, Asphalt 9, and Need for Speed: No Limits in memory simultaneously, along with a handful of other apps? My guess is no.

There are people who spend money on expensive luxury cars or designer watches. Those people can afford the 1TB Galaxy S10 Plus and won’t even think twice about the price. If you aren’t one of them, maybe consider getting a different variant and spend the rest of the money on something else.