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  • Writer's pictureRobin Alex Panicker

Memory leaks can occur in android app. Here are some scenarios, and how to fix them.

Memory leak can occur in android app. Here are some scenarios, and how to fix them.

Memory leaks can be a significant concern for Android developers as they can cause apps to become sluggish, unresponsive, or even crash.

In this blog post, we will delve into the various ways memory leaks can occur in Android apps and explore Kotlin-based examples to better understand how to detect and prevent them.

By identifying these common pitfalls, developers can create more efficient and robust applications.

1. Retained References

One of the primary causes of memory leaks in Android apps is the retention of references to objects that are no longer needed. This occurs when objects that have a longer lifecycle than their associated activities or fragments hold references to those activities or fragments. As a result, the garbage collector is unable to reclaim the memory occupied by these objects.

class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    private val networkManager = NetworkManager(this) // Retained reference
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        // ...
    // ...

class NetworkManager(private val context: Context) {
    private val requestQueue: RequestQueue = Volley.newRequestQueue(context)

    // ...

In this example, the NetworkManager holds a reference to the MainActivity context. If the MainActivity is destroyed, but the NetworkManager instance is not explicitly released, the activity will not be garbage collected, resulting in a memory leak.

To prevent this, ensure that any objects holding references to activities or fragments are released when no longer needed, typically in the corresponding onDestroy() method.

2. Handler and Runnable Memory Leaks

Handlers and Runnables are often used to schedule tasks to be executed on the UI thread. However, if not used correctly, they can lead to memory leaks. When a Runnable is posted to a Handler, it holds an implicit reference to the enclosing class, which may cause memory leaks if the task execution is delayed or canceled.

class MyFragment : Fragment() {
    private val handler = Handler()

    override fun onViewCreated(view: View, savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        super.onViewCreated(view, savedInstanceState)

        val runnable = Runnable { /* Some task */ }
        handler.postDelayed(runnable, 5000) // Delayed execution

    override fun onDestroyView() {
        handler.removeCallbacksAndMessages(null) // Prevent memory leak

In this example, if the MyFragment is destroyed before the delayed execution of the Runnable, it will still hold a reference to the fragment.

Calling removeCallbacksAndMessages(null) in onDestroyView() ensures that the pending task is removed and prevents a memory leak.

3. Static Context References

Holding a static reference to a Context, such as an Activity or Application, can cause memory leaks since the object associated with the Context cannot be garbage collected as long as the static reference exists. This issue is particularly prevalent when using singleton classes or static variables.

class MySingleton private constructor(private val context: Context) {
    companion object {
        private var instance: MySingleton? = nullfun getInstance(context: Context): MySingleton {
            if (instance == null) {
                instance = MySingleton(context.applicationContext)
            return instance as MySingleton

    // ...

In this example, the MySingleton class holds a static reference to a Context. If the Context passed during initialization is an activity, it will prevent the activity from being garbage collected, leading to a memory leak.

To avoid this, consider passing application context or weak references to avoid holding strong references to activities or fragments.

Leak Detection Tools

Two tools that help in detecting memory leaks in Android apps are LeakCanary and Finotes.

LeakCanary is used in development phase to detect memory leaks.

Finotes detects memory leaks and can be used not just in debug builds, but in release builds as well due to its lightweight implementation


Memory leaks can have a significant impact on the performance and stability of Android apps. Understanding the different ways they can occur is crucial for developers.

By paying attention to retained references, handling Handlers and Runnables properly, and avoiding static Context references, developers can mitigate memory leaks and build more efficient and reliable Android applications.

Blog for Mobile App Developers, Testers and App Owners


This blog is from Finotes Team. Finotes is a lightweight mobile APM and bug detection tool for iOS and Android apps.

In this blog we talk about iOS and Android app development technologies, languages and frameworks like Java, Kotlin, Swift, Objective-C, Dart and Flutter that are used to build mobile apps. Read articles from Finotes team about good programming and software engineering practices, testing and QA practices, performance issues and bugs, concepts and techniques. 

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