No 120Hz display for iPhone 14: But Apple has a secret to smooth performance (that Android doesn’t)


No 120Hz display for iPhone 14: But Apple has a secret to smooth performance (that Android doesn't)

Sure, the title of this story might lead you to believe that I’m trying to apologize to Apple for omitting ProMotion on its cheaper flagship iPhones, but listen to me…

ProMotion (120Hz) debuted on the iPad Pro in June 2017. Since then, tech nerds have been waiting for the day when the 120Hz refresh rate comes to the iPhone…

Meanwhile, gaming Android phones like the original Razer Phone and Asus ROG phone got 120Hz displays in fall 2017 and 2018, while the OnePlus 7 Pro brought the feature into the mainstream in 2019 with a 90Hz OLED panel , which marked a turning point in the way we look at smartphone display quality.

However, in true Apple fashion, it took Cupertino quite a while to get the iPhone on the same high refresh rate trend, while Android users meanwhile showered in 90-120Hz greatness. Many tech enthusiasts and tipsters like the famous Ice Universe expected ProMotion 2020 to debut with the iPhone 12 Pro, but it didn’t happen.

At the time, top display analyst Ross Young told us that Apple would implement ProMotion in 2021 as the company was preparing LTPO displays that allow for a variable refresh rate that extends battery life, and that’s exactly what happened.

Showing refresh rates on iPhone and Android: Why the elimination of ProMotion isn’t a deal breaker for iPhone 13 and iPhone 14

Well, sure, the variable 10-120Hz ProMotion display The iPhone 13 Pro is a treat. You can certainly notice the difference from a 60Hz iPhone/Android display when scrolling through the UI and playing games (if the game supports 120Hz, which isn’t as common as you’d expect).

However as someone who has used the vanilla iPhone 13 for a while, I can’t help but notice that this display just doesn’t feel “inferior” to me, and that’s surprising, but also…not all of this surprising.

On the other hand, I can’t say the same about mine Google Pixel 6 Pro once I dial its 120Hz refresh rate down to 60Hz (you can do this to save battery life, which you might want to do on the power-hungry Pixel).

I can’t say the same about my Huawei P30 Pro either, which has a display fixed at 60Hz. There’s something that just makes the iPhone’s 60Hz panel look noticeably smoother than most (if not all) Android phones that operate at an equivalent refresh rate. This is virtually impossible to show on camera, so you’ll either have to take my word for it or test it out for yourself the next time you visit the Apple Store.

60Hz iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 displays: Virtually as smooth as 90Hz on other phones and far smoother than 60Hz on Android

So the question here is, “Why does a 60Hz iPhone screen feel smoother than 60Hz on Android?” And to be honest, there doesn’t seem to be any finally answer to this question, but as so often in life, story and Google might help…

If we go back in time (before 2019), we’ll see that iPhones have always felt “smoother” than Android phones. Scrolling, animations, opening and closing apps, etc. – Apple’s devices have always had that the thing This made them feel more fluid than an Android phone. If we look beyond scrolling (where higher refresh rate really shines), five years after the iPhone X debuted, there’s still no Android phone that can match Apple’s incredible implementation of gesture navigation, regardless of screen refresh rate and despite the fact that Android phones have made great strides in this area.

So the feeling of “smooth operation” clearly has to do with holistic operating system optimization and is not just limited to the screen refresh rate. I’m sure most of you who’ve had the chance to use an iPhone and an Android phone side-by-side know what I mean.

Google has an explanation for Android’s “smoothness problem”.

Then there’s Google’s take on the matter… After the release of Android 12, Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Android, made an interesting statement that happened to catch my eye Report more than a year ago:

What Samat was referring to was Google’s intention to introduce tighter control over background processes like the Android system server, activity window, and package manager. In his own words, these background processes “often talk to each other at the same time,” which could force Android devices to “think” more while trying to respond to simple user input and the background processes mentioned above. For the record, none of this relates to screen refresh rates or even touch-sensing rates.

Does screen touch sample rate make a difference?

Speaking of the touch sampling rate, virtually all mid-range and flagship Android phones these days have a 240Hz touch sampling rate. For those who don’t know, the “touch sampling rate” is the number of times a display can update itself to register a user touch input in one second. For example, a smartphone with a touch sampling rate of 120 Hz looks for the user’s touch input 120 times per second. Unlike many Android manufacturers, Apple doesn’t disclose such information about the iPhone, but we do know that a 60Hz iPhone uses a 120Hz touch sampling rate (iPhones with ProMotion are believed to support 240Hz), which in the compared to most Android phones on the market and does little to explain why my Pixel 6 Pro quiet doesn’t feel as smooth as my iphone 13 or even my iphone 8 when the phones are refresh rate matched…

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max: No 120Hz ProMotion for the vanilla iPhone – no problem

In the end, Apple’s decision to keep ProMotion exclusive to its Pro iPhones will further divide opinion. Of course, Twitter tech enthusiasts will be upset about this iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max don’t get this particular feature, but that’s what phone nerds (like me) do…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Apple gave the vanilla iPhone a 90Hz screen that literally found a perfect balance between a 60Hz and a 120Hz panel and was a great compromise? Secure! Who knows – maybe Tim Cook & Co will change his mind in 2023…

As of right now, however, I can assure you that an iPhone with a 60Hz display will feel a lot smoother than an Android phone at 60Hz and almost as smooth as an Android at 90Hz, and I think you’ll be quite pleased when you decide to go with something. I know – that’s a bold claim! But if you see the Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 13 side by side (adjusted refresh rate), you would quickly come to my page.

Here is the conclusion, at least according to my tests and impressions:

  • Android phones required far more higher refresh rates than iPhones ever did, and they benefit more when it comes to smoothness (and there’s nothing wrong with that).
  • An iPhone with a 60Hz screen feels just as smooth as an Android with a 90Hz screen (that’s my opinion)
  • Don’t buy an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro just for ProMotion – even the battery gains that come with a variable refresh rate aren’t a reason for that (iPhone 13 without ProMotion simply offers better battery life than iPhone 13 Pro with a slightly larger cell)

PS: And before I go, I have to admit that before the launch of the iPhone 13 series, I predicted that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max would evolve for people who have the opportunity to test them, and thus the Pro -Models that would be much smoother to the touch could outsell the cheaper iPhone 13.

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