What good is 4GB of RAM if your smartphone can’t properly hold five apps in the background? That’s the question of concern in online discussions about the multitasking performance of Samsung’s newest smartphones, the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+.
Videos are making the rounds in various online outlets showing how aggressively Samsung’s latest phones kill background tasks, an approach that seems to render the copious RAM near useless. When about five apps are opened and exited (by way of hitting the home button) in succession on the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ then opened again in the same order, each app reloads (or “reflows”), requiring the user to wait longer than they would on other smartphones with less RAM. Video evidence of this occurrence is doing no favors for Samsung’s TouchWiz, which is already a four-letter word in many Android circles.
One example of this was shared by YouTube user DroidModderX ROOT Master, who recorded a speed test pitting the Galaxy Note 5 against the LG G4. The video shows that while the Note 5 won the first lap of opening apps, it struggled mightily in the second lap of reopening each app. After both laps, it finished four seconds after the G4, which has 3GB of RAM.
Another speed test posted by PhoneBuff pitted the Galaxy Note 5 against the OnePlus Two (4GB of RAM) and the G4. Again, the Note 5 blazed through the first lap but finished just one second ahead of the G4 after the second lap.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ has the same problem with reloading apps, as shown in a video from Android Police, which notes that the reflow issue was reproducible on their S6 Edge+ and Note 5 review units.
“Essentially, if you run an app on the S6 Edge+ or Note 5, then subsequently open four or five other apps in the meantime, going back to that first app almost invariably results in a full “reflow” of the application — meaning longer load times and more data usage,” according to Android Police, which used the Nexus 6 for comparison.
The reason for the reflow issue is a mystery for now. Unless Samsung can promise a future fix for the issue, multitasking will be a bugaboo that may scare away potential buyers of the Note 5 and S6 Edge+.