What to Expect for iPhone 12 Models Featuring a 120 Hz ProMotion Display

Multiple rumors are converging upon the possibility that at least two models in Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 lineup will feature faster 120 Hz displays.

iPhone 12 Purple
The rumors reach back to July 2019, when Notable Samsung leaker "Ice Universe" first suggested that 2020 iPhones could feature faster displays made by Samsung and LG that would allow for a smoother on-screen experience.

Also last year, DigiTimes linked the then-nascent era of 5G with the wide adoption of higher refresh rate smartphone displays. The Taiwan industry publication based its prediction on the penetration rate of over-120Hz panels in the gaming notebook segment, which was prompting panel makers to step into the sector and develop panels with refresh rates ranging from 120 Hz to 240 Hz.

This year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has suggested faster 120 Hz displays could be coming to two high-end ‌iPhone 12‌ models, and over the weekend, Twitter leaker Max Weinbach suggested that the iPhone 12 Pro, which is expected to come in 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes, will exclusively feature a high refresh-rate 120Hz display.

An increasing number of phones launched in the last 12 months have boasted panels with faster refresh rates than the standard 60 Hz panel, which remains a holdover from traditional CRT displays that required the refresh rate to match the power supply frequency and thereby avoid potential interference.

Apple already uses proprietary variable refresh rate technology in its iPad Pro models under the moniker "ProMotion," which dynamically adjusts the display to the movement of content for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness, and smoother motion.

The ‌iPad Pro‌'s display refresh rate changes on the fly depending on what's being viewed, which conserves battery life. If you're watching a movie or playing a game, for example, the refresh rate is at 120 Hz, but if you're reading a web page or looking at a photo, you don't need a 120 Hz refresh rate, so it adjusts accordingly. This adaptivity means the refresh rate also matches the viewed content more precisely, eliminating judder and distortion.

Of course, Apple's ‌‌iPad Pro‌‌ models use LCD panels rather than OLED, and rumors have suggested Apple will complete its transition to an all-OLED iPhone lineup in 2020 with new 5.4-inch, (two) 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models, so this would be the first time we have seen ProMotion tech in an OLED panel.

The implications for the ‌iPhone‌ viewing experience are hard to overstate. Current pixel resolutions as high as they are, doubling the refresh rate would bring a whole new fluidity and realism to viewed content. In that sense, combined with HDR10 support and a wide color gamut, Apple's wider adoption of 120 Hz ProMotion tech could do for OLED iPhones what the company's Retina Displays achieved for LCD iPhones in 2010.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 12 (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

JBGoode Avatar
10 months ago

So all this cool features are reserved for the larger Pro models?
And why is Tim forcing me to carry an "adult toy" sized phone in my pocket? Why can’t we keep the 5.8 size?
Why don't you just quit Apple? All of your 'contributions' to the forum are nothing but Tim Cook/Apple bashing posts and threats to leave anyway so you may as well just pull the trigger now. (And no one is 'forcing' you to carry anything. If you buy the new Pro it's your choice.)
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joosst Avatar
10 months ago

If you're watching a movie or playing a game, for example, the refresh rate is at 120 Hz, but if you're reading a web page or looking at a photo, you don't need a 120 Hz refresh rate, so it adjusts accordingly.
Is this correct? I don’t think so. I would say: watching a movie at 25fps doesn’t require a 120hz framerate. Scrolling through a website at 120hz does make sense, as it would make the scrolling much smoother. So, isn’t it precisely the opposite?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
10 months ago

And why is Tim forcing me to carry an "adult toy" sized phone in my pocket?
Let's get one thing straight, you are not forced to buy anything. There are literally thousands of smartphones on the market you could have purchased but you did choose to buy the one you have with your own free adult will.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mavis Avatar
10 months ago

No, Apple doesn’t need to come up with a ‘crazy name’, if they continue to use the ‘Promotion‘ moniker as it stands with the iPad Pro, it make more sense to keep that same marketing name for the iPhone, as users will make sense of what it is for those who have the iPad Pro. What Apple probably should focus on, is how do they market Promotion for the iPhone that would entice average consumers to want to upgrade when they see this new display technology. It’s a significant factor in terms of a viewing experience for the display, but they need to sell this feature, which their marketing typically has always been very unique.
At the very least, they need to capitalize that M. "ProMotion" is much clearer, IMO.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gk4 Avatar
10 months ago

because the 5.8" is just too small for media consumption. Your eyes literally need to squint to read the text, and movies and games are just downright pathetic at a screen this small. The current 6.5" (and upcoming future 6.7") are the minimum comfortable screen size for content consumption.
120hz doesn't really make sense for 'media consumption'. Its still common for people to actively disable 120hz+ when it comes to watching movies and TV shows.

As for reading text - I think this is what a lot of people miss when thinking about smaller phones. Assuming you want it to be this way, it's totally possible to have text be the exact same size - just less of it on screen at a time. If I look at my original SE and X side by side, the actual size of text in various places is physically identical - there's just less of it so I need to scroll more on the smaller screen.


It’s funny how people want all the latest and greatest features on Apples lower end iPhones.
It you wanna play you gotta pay.
I think what you're missing is that nobody wants this to be a lower end phone. They just want a small phone. If my current phone was priced identically to the Max, I would still by my current phone because i prefer a smaller size.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NBAasDOGG Avatar
10 months ago
So all this cool features are reserved for the larger Pro models?
And why is Tim forcing me to carry an "adult toy" sized phone in my pocket? Why can’t we keep the 5.8 size?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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