Why use Fragment#setRetainInstance(boolean)?

The question:

I find Fragment#setRetainInstance(true) confusing. Here is the Javadoc, extracted from the Android Developer API:

public void setRetainInstance (boolean retain)

Control whether a fragment instance is retained across Activity re-creation (such as from a configuration change). This can only be used with fragments not in the back stack. If set, the fragment lifecycle will be slightly different when an activity is recreated:

  • onDestroy() will not be called (but onDetach() still will be, because the fragment is being detached from its current activity).
  • onCreate(Bundle) will not be called since the fragment is not being re-created.
  • onAttach(Activity) and onActivityCreated(Bundle) will still be called.

Question: How do you as a developer use this, and why does it make things easier?

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

How do you as a developer use this

Call setRetainInstance(true). I typically do that in onCreateView() or onActivityCreated(), where I use it.

and why does it make things easier?

It tends to be simpler than onRetainNonConfigurationInstance() for handling the retention of data across configuration changes (e.g., rotating the device from portrait to landscape). Non-retained fragments are destroyed and recreated on the configuration change; retained fragments are not. Hence, any data held by those retained fragments is available to the post-configuration-change activity.

Method 2

It’s very helpful in keeping long running resources open such as sockets. Have a UI-less fragment that holds references to bluetooth sockets and you won’t have to worry about reconnecting them when the user flips the phone.

It’s also handy in keeping references to resources that take a long time to load like bitmaps or server data. Load it once, keep it in a retained fragment, and when the activity is reloaded it’s still there and you don’t have to rebuild it.

Method 3

Added this answer very late, but I thought it would make things clearer. Say after me. When setRetainInstance is:


  • Fragment gets re-created on config change. NEW INSTANCE is created.
  • ALL lifecycle methods are called on config change, including onCreate() and onDestroy().


  • Fragment does not get re-created on config change. SAME INSTANCE is used.
  • All lifecycle methods are called on config change, APART FROM onCreate() and onDestroy().
  • Retaining an instance will not work when added to the backstack.

Don’t forget that the above applies to DialogFragments as well as Fragments.

Method 4

The setRetainInstance(boolean) method is deprecated, use ViewModels instead.

The setRetainInstance(boolean) method on Fragments has been deprecated as of Version 1.3.0 of fragment API.

With the introduction of ViewModels, developers have a specific API for retaining state that can be associated with Activities, Fragments, and Navigation graphs. This allows developers to use a normal, not retained Fragment and keep the specific state they want retained separate.

This ensures that developers have a much more understandable lifecycle for those Fragments (one that matches all of the rest of their Fragments) while maintaining the useful properties of a single creation and single destruction (in this case, the constructor of the ViewModel and the onCleared() callback from the ViewModel).

All methods was sourced from stackoverflow.com or stackexchange.com, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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