Low-Power LTPO Technology Not Expected on iPhones Until 2021, Possibly Delaying ProMotion
Multiple sources have indicated that Apple is considering expanding its ProMotion technology to the iPhone, allowing for a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz for smoother motion content and greater responsiveness. The feature debuted on the iPad Pro in 2017.
The rumors began in July 2019 when a reputable Samsung leaker known as "Ice Universe" on Twitter said Apple was considering a switchable 60Hz/120Hz refresh rate on at least one iPhone in 2020. This was followed by a DigiTimes Taiwan report in October that claimed Apple would release an iPhone with a 120Hz display this year.
More recently, both Max Weinbach and Jon Prosser have claimed that this year's higher-end iPhone 12 Pro models will in fact support ProMotion, although Prosser said there is a possibility that Apple could disable ProMotion at the software level prior to the devices launching if it decides the feature consumes too much battery life.
On that note, display analyst Ross Young today tweeted that the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note20+ will be the only flagship smartphone in 2020 to feature low-power LTPO display technology, adding that the iPhone will follow in 2021.
I meant only one flagship in 2020 will have LTPO — Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 11, 2020
About Display Technology. With LTPO, you can vary the display refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz based on the content. In always on mode, 1Hz. In gaming modes, 120Hz. Big power advantage for Samsung. Apple won’t have LTPO until 2021. — Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 11, 2020
Young believes LTPO is essential if Apple plans to support ProMotion on the iPhone, as it would allow for a variable refresh as low as 1Hz when the device is inactive to optimize battery life. As with the Apple Watch Series 5, the technology could also pave the way for iPhones to have an always-on display option next year.
Here is how Apple describes LTPO for the Watch:
The low temperature poly-silicon and oxide display features a reinvented pixel architecture that lets the screen refresh rate dip from 60Hz to a power-sipping 1Hz when the watch is inactive. A new low-power driver, ultra-efficient power management, and a new ambient light sensor work together so the display can stay always on with up to 18 hours of battery life.
It is worth noting that the iPad Pro supports ProMotion without LTPO, so perhaps the feature really will launch on the iPhone this year, but it sounds like there is a possibility that Apple will simply wait until 2021.