The next iPhones, which are expected to be referred to as the iPhone 13 series, are on everyone’s lips. The next iPhones will obviously have superior processors and cameras. But there is one main feature Apple may be added to the iPhone 13 lineup, especially for the top-end iPhone 13 Pro models – LTPO displays with variable refresh rates.
For some time now, Android smartphones have offered displays with high refresh rates such as 90 Hz and 120 Hz. And Apple could finally offer the feature this year. Smartphones with 120Hz Refresh rate display Provide a smoother scrolling experience and games become more intense.
Before we go any further there is another term called ‘Touch sample rate‘which you must be clear about.
Show touch sample rate versus refresh rate
There are several smartphones with a touch sampling rate of 180 Hz while hiding the fact that the display offers a standard refresh rate of 60 Hz. Note that the touch sample rate has nothing to do with the refresh rate. Brands can easily achieve a touch sampling rate of 180 Hz with a standard 60 Hz refresh rate panel. While it sounds good in real life in marketing brochures, it hardly makes much of a difference.
The touch sample rate is how much touch input the screen can register in one second. So a higher sample rate means you can expect games to be more responsive to light touch. In practice, however, the difference is barely noticeable when playing the most popular games. On the other hand, with a higher refresh rate display, you can actually feel the difference in the game’s responsiveness.
60Hz vs 90Hz vs variable refresh rate up to 120Hz: How is that important?
Back to the refresh rate. All smartphones come with a 60 Hz refresh rate by default. And now there are phones with 90 Hz refresh rate displays. Newer models now offer displays with variable refresh rates up to 120 Hz.
To be honest, in most cases where you are using a phone, a display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz will do. You would only feel the difference if you were using a display with a higher refresh rate of 90Hz or 120Hz only when playing or watching action movies. However, to really understand the difference you need to hold two phones next to each other with different refresh rates. The easiest way to differentiate is to focus on the general scrolling speed.
Don’t assume that buying a phone with a higher refresh rate will give you an unfair advantage when playing games like PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile. There were PUBG Mobile teams in India who also made it into the top 10 on the All India list with an old Samsung Galaxy S6.
The biggest problem with displays with higher refresh rates is that these phones tend to use more battery, requiring users to charge their phones more often, which ultimately reduces battery life. To address this problem, brands have developed variable update rates.
With variable refresh rate, the phone uses software to decide how much refresh rate is required for the display to show certain content. Just surfing the Internet, chatting with friends, calling people, or doing other regular activities with just your phone will drastically reduce the refresh rate to below 60 Hz. The moment you play a game, the refresh rate is increased up to 120Hz for a smooth gaming experience. This is simply a clever use of software to extend battery life. To achieve variable display, brands have to rely on a new technology like LTPO.
What is LTPO?
Technically, LTPO means polycrystalline low temperature oxide. This simply helps smartphones to change the refresh rate according to the content without additional hardware requirements. This helps in getting the refresh rate you want without putting a lot of pressure on the battery.
LTPO is patented by Apple. The next logical question should now be why Samsung and OnePlus are offering this technology in their flagships at a lower cost when it is patented by Apple.
Well, both Samsung and OnePlus use some kind of LTPO technology by tweaking it to avoid Apple paying license fees. Samsung uses hybrid polycrystalline silicon oxide in the Note 20 Ultra, while the OnePlus uses low-temperature polycrystalline silicon, or LTPS. Now LTPS alone cannot provide a dynamic update rate without additional hardware, and users have to choose between 60 Hz and 120 Hz. This is where the need for more hardware comes into play, in which LTPS TFT panels are backed up with IGZO transistors (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide). These technologies offer better battery life with the desired refresh rate at the same time. It should also be noted that most phones offer a high refresh rate of 120 Hz with a reduced resolution of 1080p HD instead of QHD.
Apple uses LTPO in Apple Watch 5 This allows the refresh rate to vary between 1 Hz and 60 Hz. This contributes to a smooth experience and also improves battery life. There’s no word on whether or not LTPO will eventually be available for iPhones.
So what can you expect from future iPhones?
If Apple uses LTPO on its next iPhones, it can be expected that responsiveness will increase significantly and that playing games will become even more intense. You can expect battery life to increase with the overall experience to get smoother.