Low space on smartphones

Hi and welcome to today’s post which is titled low space on Smartphones.

Low space on smartphones is one of those things that tends to get people on edge. It is not a nice place to be in. Having to sort through your files to determine which stuff to jettison and which ones to keep.

I hate seeing that low-space warning on the notification bar at the top of my device. So what is low memory on smartphones or low space and what does it mean?

Read: Memory, storage, and ROM explained

Low space and low memory

A low-space situation is when you run out of internal storage space whilst using a phone. Presumably your phone. This mostly happens when the internal storage begins to fill up.

A low-memory situation happens when you run out of RAM space on your device. When you try to run an app on your phone that requires more memory than your phone can provide, you’ll run into this problem. For example, I tried to run Yuzu (a Nintendo Switch app) that requires 8GB, on my 6GB RAM phone. You know, for science and gaming. My phone promptly ran out of memory not long after.

Read: Why do phones suffer from poor RAM management?

What happens during Low Memory situations?

So what happens when you run out of memory

1. The phone slows down, possibly even grinding to a halt.

Why? Because many apps and tasks need to run in the background for your phone to function properly. If this app forces them out, a lot of functions on your phone would stop. Pronto.

2. System functions begin to fail

Some very popular ones I know from my experience using many low-end devices are: fingerprint processes have stopped, the process has stopped, that process has stopped, etc.

3. Apps forced closed 

The operating system would start making desperate attempts to conserve space by removing apps from the RAM to create space.

4. Freezing, rebooting, or worse, the dreaded boot loop

When the OS no longer has enough space to run, the phone would freeze and reboot. The rebooting process is meant to remove all apps from the RAM and allow the OS to run.

However, some persistent apps or system faults may hamper the rebooting process causing the phone to boot loop.

For the uninitiated, a boot loop is when you try to put a phone on, it comes on, goes off, comes on again, and goes off until the battery dies.

What happens during low-space situations

One of the very first things you would notice is that the phone would begin to run slower. Phones run slower during low-space situations because of the actions going on in the background. These could include the operating system deleting cache and apps trying to re-download them. This back-and-forth between the OS and the apps tends to lag the device.

This is because the OS needs to conserve space and allocate it efficiently but apps need to create cache to function properly. This standoff is not usually a problem if there was enough space on the device.

The next thing to happen would be apps getting forced to close even while in use. This is because the OS goes into overdrive and aggressively manages the available memory.

Another thing is that system functions begin to fail as there’s not enough space for them to run. The fingerprint sensor fails to unlock the device, the screen takes forever to wake up, etc.

Other possible consequences include:

  • Inability to save files to the storage
  • Inability to install new apps
  • Many apps will not work correctly as they have to save data and cache to the storage. The camera won’t take pictures, the Audio app won’t record audio, WhatsApp messages will be left pending, etc.

Please leave a comment if you have any difficulty and remember to:


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