When looking for a new smartphone, one always looks for a phone with more RAM, better camera, a high capacity battery or a large internal memory. But not often any attention is paid to the processor, the primary component on your phone which helps determine the operating speed. Therefore, it is crucial that it operates at a fast speed.
Smartphones with 32-bit and 64-bit processors aren’t a new thing, they have been around for a few years now. Apple has had a 64-bit OS since the iOS 7. Android has been taking advantage of 64-bit architecture since the advent of ARMv8 and Android Lollipop. Let’s take a look at the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit smartphones, what it means for you as a user, and which one is the better choice.
Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit smartphones:
Basically, bits refer to a storage size and the number represents the number of bits that the processor can actually process or execute at the same time. Simply put, the number of bits your processor is, determines the size of the data types the processor can handle and the size of its registry.
What is a ‘bit’?
In simple terms, a bit is the smallest piece of data, and it can have a binary value of either 0 or 1 (Computers can only understand and operate in binary format: 0 or 1). Each one is a considered a bit and eight such bits make up a byte.
Every few years, the chips inside the smartphones (even computers) and the software running on those chips make leaps forward in supporting a new number. The numbers show just how much more powerful a chip that supports higher bit computing can be. The first microprocessor, Intel 4004, had a 4-bit architecture. The Intel 8080 chip in the 1970s supported 8-bit computing. The first smartphone with a 64-bit chip (Apple A7) was the iPhone 5s in 2014.
32-bit processors Vs 64-bit processors:
Arithmetic and logic operations inside a processor are carried out using registers. If the size of registers in a CPU is 32-bits, then it a 32-bit CPU and if the size is 64-bits, it is a 64-bit CPU. A 32-bit processor can handle integer operations of 32-bits long, and likewise, a 64-bit processor can handle 64-bit integer operations. Simply put, a 64-bit processor is more capable than a 32-bit processor because it can handle more data at once.
32-bit processors can handle positive integers up to the number 4,294,967,296 (2 to the 32nd power) while a 64-bit processor can handle up to 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (2^64). This means that 64-bit processors have four billion times more addresses at their disposal than 32-bit processors.
Using these values, memory locations are mapped to physical memory. A 32-bit processor uses 32 bits to point to locations in memory. That means that a single program can address only 4GB (2^32) with a 32-bit chip, even if the processor can address more. A 64-bit processor uses 64 bits to point to memory locations. Hence programs can address 18.4 exabytes of memory. Such a large amount of memory is not yet required for practical purposes.
64-bit processors can process more data per second than 32-bit processors. This is because a 32-bit CPU can only handle 4 bytes of data in one CPU cycle (8×4=32), while 64-bit CPU can handle 8 bytes of data(8×8=64). So, 64-bit processors do not need to go back to memory as often as 32-bit processors do. Hence, 64-bit processors work faster than their 32-bit counterparts.
Which Smartphone Is Better?
As discussed earlier, 32-bit processors can handle up to 4GB of RAM, but 64-bit ones can handle more. With apps demanding more and more resources these days, 4GB RAM will soon not be enough. The more we do with our phones the more memory we need. A little extra RAM also ensures that you will not face those occasional lags during multitasking.
64-bit phones will do everything better and last longer. The ARMv7 architecture that powers most 32-bit phones is good, but it’s also getting on a bit. The newer ARMv8 architecture is much more streamlined, energy efficient and faster when it comes to everyday tasks.
The most notable change in 64-bit OS over 32-bit will be the device performance. While many users may find that a 32-bit processor provides them with enough performance and memory access, applications that tend to use large amounts of memory may show vast improvements with the upgraded processor – the apps will load faster, and the interface will be more responsive.
How to check if my device is 32-bit or 64-bit?
If you want to check if your own device is 32-bit or 64-bit, you can do so easily with AnTuTu Benchmark. Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, press the Info button on the bottom right and check under the CPU category for the Type field. It will tell you what type your phone’s processor is.
In iPhones, every iOS since iOS 7 is 64-bit. In Android smartphones, anything above ARMv8 is a 64-bit device.
Now, almost all new mobile processors and operating systems are 64-bit, and the question of whether to buy a 32-bit smartphone or a 64-bit smartphone disappears.