A quick look around the iPhone 3GS ‘Tech Specs‘ page reveals plenty of info about battery life, screen size, resolution, and a number of other info, but we have yet to see any info on the RAM or CPU speed which claims to make the iPhone 3GS â€œtwice as fast’. Even when asked directly, they refused to say exactly.
It seems a bit strange for them to be doing this, but I have a theory. You may have read my article a short while back questioning the rumors that said that Apple would release a touch oriented slate style device at WWDC. In that article, I mentioned that the App Store has been a huge part of the iPhones success, and Apple wouldn’t be releasing anything that runs the iPhone OS with specs that would ruin app compatibility. So, I feel that Apple has done some work to ensure that apps stay cross compatible with every device of their touch series.
I’ll have to mention that I haven’t yet been able to test the iPhone 3GS, but here is my initial theory. Apple may have doubled the RAM in the iPhone but kept the CPU speed the same; they want to keep the double RAM a secret. Why would they do this? The previous iPhone 3G has 128MB of RAM that gets allocated around the system to where it is needed. If a heavy app uses too much RAM, it crashes because the phone doesn’t have any more RAM to offer it, as it is being used up by the rest of the system. By doubling the RAM, they have plenty of space to allocate to the system, and a much larger space to load and run applications. The RAM speed remains the same (and the CPU) which means that app performance (while it is actually running) will stay the same, but with the increased quantity of RAM, more data can be loaded to the RAM at once, increasing the speed in which applications load. This is important because Apple doesn’t want any of the touch devices to run applications better than any other, ensuring compatibility between all.
Apple understands the success of their App Store. In the WWDC keynote, they mentioned that they have 50,000 applications, over 1,000,000,000 downloads of apps, and an install base of 40,000,000 users, across all generations of the iPod Touch and iPhone. Those numbers are insanely impressive, and as I stressed in the aforementioned article, they are not about to ruin compatibility of their precious app store. If they just doubled the CPU speed and double the RAM, developers would have a new performance bar that they could develop for. This means that an application might be designed specifically for a theoretical, more powerful iPhone, and yet it wouldn’t run well on their older devices, totally breaking the trend that the current app store has had since it was released: complete interoperability between all devices regardless of generation. But here is the really tricky partâ€¦ why keep it a secret?
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