Why Galaxy S III doesn’t get KitKat with 1 GB RAM but other devices do with even 512 MB RAM

Ever since Samsung announced that the Galaxy S III (the international model) would not be getting Android 4.4 KitKat, we’ve seen an avalanche of comments from (rightly) disgruntled users who thought their beloved S III was worth at least one more update. Two recurring points we’ve seen many people making is that KitKat should run fine on the Galaxy S III because KitKat supports devices with as low as 512 MB of RAM, and because if other, lower-end devices with less than 1 GB of RAM can have KitKat, so can the S III.

Well, unfortunately, things are not as clear cut as people may think, and there are many reasons why the Galaxy S III, despite having 1 GB of RAM, can’t be compared to low-end and mid-range devices or considered an ideal candidate for getting KitKat even though the latest version of Android is optimized for 512 MB of RAM.

In case of the latter, what folks don’t understand is that KitKat is meant for 512 MB of RAM in its stock unadulterated form, as you see it on Nexus devices (and on Motorola’s latest phones), not in a form where manufacturers like Samsung dump a plethora of software features on top that all demand more memory and negate the advantages in memory usage that Google introduced in KitKat.

Which brings us on to my next point: Being a flagship device, the Galaxy S III has numerous software features, considerably more than what you would find on a budget or mid-range device, which means it requires more RAM for proper operation. Furthermore, since the phone has a high-resolution (720p, or 1280×720) display, apps also demand more resources, which includes RAM and CPU power – the increased demand on resources isn’t that great, but it’s still a factor compared to phones with a WVGA (480×800) or even a qHD (540×960) resolution display.

It also doesn’t help that Samsung’s TouchWiz UX is the heaviest OEM skin out there, with so many apps and features that it becomes difficult for a device to handle with just 1 GB of RAM. All devices that Samsung is updating to KitKat have at least 1.5 GB of RAM, and on low-end devices like the new Galaxy Ace Style or the Galaxy Ace 4, Samsung is using a lighter version of TouchWiz called TouchWiz Essence, which strips away some of the features that you generally see on Samsung’s smartphones and tablets.

Some would argue that Samsung would be better off removing some of those features in order to update the phone to KitKat, but that solution isn’t suitable for the real world, where millions of general consumers might be using at least one of the features that Samsung might remove, consumers the company has to think of in the grand scheme of things.

This article isn’t meant to support Samsung’s decision to not update the Galaxy S III, though it’s not that I don’t see why that decision isn’t as harsh as people make it out to be, considering the Galaxy S III started at Android 4.0 and ended its life at Android 4.3 and was given the support that is commonplace in the Android ecosystem, and more than what other manufacturers have provided to their devices that launched in 2012. Granted, Android 4.3 has a lot of issues that Samsung needs to fix, but it’s still a fact that the S III got three major updates in its lifetime.

The point of this article is to simply list out the reasons why people’s comments about the Galaxy S III not getting KitKat when it’s there on other devices with an equal or lesser amount of RAM are not based on the facts. I agree that it is amazingly sad that Samsung has bloated Android to a point where even 1 GB of RAM wasn’t enough for a new version of the OS that actually reduces memory consumption, but at the end of the day, the 1 GB of RAM is a limitation, and it probably would have reduced the user experience like Samsung said it would in its statement.

P.S.: We at SamMobile do believe that Samsung should support its devices for longer than 18 months, since there are people who buy the phone at the last moment, but that is a discussion for another time, and another article. 

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1 year 11 months ago

But, when my S3 contract ends I shall not have another Samsung product in my life. I’ll be going with a Nexus or Xperia :-)

1 year 11 months ago

Unlucky guys, I am running Android 4.4.4 on my GT-I9300 and it’s very stable with a lot more features than the 4.3 update. If you want KitKat just install a custom ROM called paranoidandroid for the S3 and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

1 year 11 months ago

can samsung grand GT 19080 upgrade with kitkat.

2 years 1 day ago

Let me guess, you are an indian right?
Too much words, all air.

2 years 5 days ago

stop this. This is driving me crazy about the updates…

k venu
2 years 6 days ago

plz make kitkat version for samsung galaxy quatrro

2 years 7 days ago


2 years 10 days ago

I have rooted and installed Cyanogenmod M7 with 4.4.2 instead of complaining to samsung for not updating S3. 2 days ago i also got 4.4.4 update (CM11 – M8).

2 years 15 days ago

Samsung might have his reasons for not updating the S3, and I have mine,
4.3 doesn’t run well in s3 at all. It destroys memory card, drains battery too quickly and of course the phone is charging very slowly. That’s the reasons people are crying. They spent a lot of money on their phone and that became useless with an update and then you say that you’ll not update it any further. The thing is push a good update or do not update at all, what was all that testing for?

I’m starting to think, what your testers actually do, like testing, n then testing in final stages, Ridiculous, all of us have witnessed your troubled updates…. Is it allowed to get drunk in your office?

No!! think seriously, maybe they drink n test…

2 years 18 days ago

Samsung May his reasons for not update the S3 GT-9300, and I have my reasons for not buying a Smartphone againg, and won’t spend a lot of money to have hardware problems (sudden death),software problems (4.3 Multi bugging) and a prematurely stopped support (and they keep saleing it).


2 years 19 days ago

As the baseline just wondering how much RAM used by 9305 after upgraded to Kitkat?
I am sure S3 International user will satisfy if Samsung could scarify some of the bloatware to lower down the RAM usage…

Something can be considered SAMSUNG….

2 years 21 days ago

Samsung is losing market because this there are millions s3 customers around world. Think about it. There is nothing impossible for samsung they are just ignoring it so that they can push the sales of new products thats all. Even 2gb ram model with kitkat has issues.

Samsung stop this cheating to customers..S3 is the phone that you made a history. that the phone got you all the sales and the push up you need and try to respect that..

2 years 23 days ago

this is bulls**t

so what happend to phone 512 mb ram in LG??

they have kitkat

2 years 23 days ago

this is bulls**t

so how LG have phone with 512 mb ram with kitkat??

2 years 23 days ago

For all the cry baby’s with the s3 get a life even if samsung updates this phone to 4.4.2 or 4.4.3 or 4.4.4 touchwiz will remain the same have any of you check the changelog if are any of 4.4.2 from 4.3 of touchwiz music lock screen translucent status bar with grey icons and that’s all i can recall beside bug fix now the phone is 2 years old it went from ics 4.0.4 to jb 4.1.1 to 4.3 so the phone is 2 years old and probably out of warranty and if you really want you phone to be different root it flash a custom rom like cyaonagenmod or other 4.4.2 4.4.3 4.4.4 base rom with stock android experience for a real change then you will get all the features the you see at google i/o and more you will also lose lot of the features of touchwiz like smart stay motion features screen mirroring keyboard multiwindow camera also the lag

ps almost forget the stock android 4.4.2 kitkat can run with 512mb of ram it only apply to stock android not bloated kitkat touchwiz will require more ram

I also have a galaxy s3 sgh-t999 with 4.3 root custom tw waiting to be retire whene the note 4 come out also have sgh-m919 galaxy s4 root custom tw 4.4.2 and a sm-900t 4.4.2 unroot tw a gt-n5110 galaxy note 8.0 4.4.2 root stock tw and a gt-p5113 galaxy tab 2 10.1 runing cyanogenmod 4.4.4 root stock android

2 years 21 days ago

“that’s all i can recall beside bug fix”
But that’s what people want: bug fix.

2 years 23 days ago

When will be launched kitkat for galaxy s3 neo i9300i?

2 years 23 days ago

Plzzz plzzzz plzzz update galaxy s3 international varient with kitkat 4.4.2 or 4.4.3…..

2 years 23 days ago

just three simple words: “no more samsung”

2 years 23 days ago

:) Sammy sucks regarding S3 (s3 lte).

I have Sony Xperia Z1 compact and since yesterday KitKat 4.4.4 :)

2 years 23 days ago

I don’t buy into this. Why can’t Samsung reoptimize the touchwiz so it can run with KitKat. I owned Galaxy S, S2, S3, Note 1, 2, Galaxy Nexus and Original Samsung Tab. I must say Samsung lost me. Samsung support have been very bad. I still own note 3 because of the unique S pen features other than that I don’t miss Samsung devices at all. I love my HTC one M7, this device is fantastic. It is running 4.4.2 Sense 6.0, the update feels timely. Note 3 in Australia still running 4.3, which is another example of Samsung incompetence. I am confident android L will land on my old HTC before S5. I also don’t bother with Samsung Tab. My 3 years old iPad still feels great and surprisingly running ios7 and will get ios8.

2 years 23 days ago

Samsung sucks! Even with 2 GB RAM, 2.3 quad core I9506 still no kitkat.

2 years 23 days ago

The GS3 has had it’s share of major OS updates in the two years it’s been on the market. It’s time to stop beating the dead horse, even more so the delusion that they will port S4 and S5 features back to the S3. That said, several US variants of the device were updated to KitKat, so Samsung can technically do it. Having used several of those devices though, I can say the overall responsiveness under KitKat seems a bit sluggish.

It’s really a shame that Samsung insists on sticking with the bloated TouchWiz UI. It would be much nicer if they took a queue from Motorola and used a largely stock experience, but add some of the Samsung specific enhancements on top of that. Between that and offloading bloatware to the Play Store, it would probably go a long way toward making OS updates easier, faster, and possibly continue beyond the two year limit we see today.

2 years 23 days ago

I understand the reasons, but what about turning their apps into shortcuts? If someone needs the WatchOn app, then he/she will download it with Samsung Apps. This way a lot of RAM (and disk space) could be spare and not lose any useful feature.

2 years 23 days ago

Why s4 i9506 doesn’t get kitkat? 4.3 is full of bugs it’s a nightmare.

2 years 23 days ago

So, now that Samsung has agreed with Google to remove all Media Hub apps and already installed applications will be erased from phones, doesnt that allows more freedom for S3 to coop with Kit Kat OS?

2 years 23 days ago

Kitkat to T-Mobile S3 pleaseeeeeee or make a android stock rom please do something

2 years 23 days ago

Or help me to get CM10 or CM11 ciz I need another build to install it, HELP PLEASE

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