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A new Apple patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes an iPhone display that, with high refresh mode enabled, may be capable of updating content at two times, three times, or even four times the native refresh rate, as reported by Patently Apple. For example, an iPhone with a 60Hz display would be able to increase its variable refresh rate to 120Hz, 180Hz, or 240Hz automatically.

iphone-12-120hz-thumbnail-feature.jpg

For those unfamiliar, refresh rate refers to how many times a display refreshes every second. (The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the content on the display will be.) All current iPhones have a refresh rate of 60Hz, but since 2017, all iPad Pro models have featured ProMotion technology, enabling a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

Rumors of 120Hz coming to the iPhone 12 proved to be untrue, but there is renewed confidence that ProMotion will make an appearance on the iPhone 13. During the rumor cycle last year, some claimed that the iPhone 12 would automatically switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on what the user was doing on their device in an effort to preserve battery life. While the ability for a device to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz is not new, the patent describing the ability for an iPhone to push the refresh rate to as high as 180Hz or 240Hz is.

The lack of a 120Hz refresh rate on the iPhone so far could be linked to the fact that Apple tends to treads carefully when adding features such as ProMotion that could be detrimental to battery life or systemwide performance. Rumors suggest that Apple will overcome this power consumption dilemma by adopting low-power LTPO display technology for iPhone 13 models, allowing for 120Hz without a significant impact on battery life.

A higher refresh rate could be beneficial for several use cases, such as gaming and augmented reality. If a user is simply watching a movie or messaging a friend, the display could switch back to its 60Hz native refresh rate as a means to save battery life.

This week, new rumors claimed that alongside a 120Hz refresh rate, the iPhone 13 lineup will also have an always-on-display. Always-on displays allow users to see certain information, such as the time, date, or battery life, at all times. All high-end iPhones since the iPhone X have featured OLED displays, meaning each pixel is individually controlled, allowing the device to only light up the pixels needed to show users limited information, preserving battery life.

Article Link: Apple Wins Patent for iPhone Display With Variable Refresh Rates Up to 240Hz
 
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Dwalls90

macrumors 603
Feb 5, 2009
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I'd argue 120hz was a 2020 move, but there were only a handful of phones that launched in 2020 with 144hz. 240hz would be a big jump.

My guess is this would function similar to Auto 5G - switching to 240hz only when it really needed it (to conserve battery), and switching back to 120hz or 60hz even if not needed. Maybe even lower than 60hz if they implement an AOD.
 

jumpcutking

macrumors 6502
Nov 6, 2020
300
182
Android users everywhere: My phone already does that.
Me: ... but does your phone actually work... Hmmm?

---

Promotion to the iPhone, sounds like that foldable iPhone/iPad post may be headed in the right direction. Something like that helps the Apple Pencil feel more intuitive - not to mention the gaming and performance of animations update.

But... I digress.

iPhone 13... more money to spend on your iPhone in August!
 

bobenhaus

macrumors 65816
Mar 2, 2011
1,025
487
I'd argue 120hz was a 2020 move, but there were only a handful of phones that launched in 2020 with 144hz. 240hz would be a big jump.

My guess is this would function similar to Auto 5G - switching to 240hz only when it really needed it (to conserve battery), and switching back to 120hz or 60hz even if not needed. Maybe even lower than 60hz if they implement an AOD.

My Samsung phone currently runes at 120hz and it is notable if I change it back down the 60hz. Smooth as butter
 

cmaier

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Jul 25, 2007
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The patent really is not focussed on “240Hz.” The claims are more general than that. 240Hz is just one example (there are a couple dependent claims that refer to 120Hz and 240Hz, just because those are obviously natural choices given the ”2x” limitation):

1. A display comprising: a plurality of display pixels arranged in rows and columns; display driver circuitry configured to provide image data to the columns of display pixels; and gate driver circuitry configured to provide control signals to the rows of display pixels, wherein the gate driver circuitry includes a shift register that is operable in a native refresh rate mode at a first refresh rate and a high refresh rate mode at a second refresh rate that is twice the first refresh rate, wherein in the native refresh rate mode the shift register sequentially provides control signals to each row of all the display pixels, and wherein in the high refresh rate mode the shift register sequentially provides control signals to each pair of adjacent rows of all the display pixels.

So the headline of the original post is wrong. No “up to 240Hz.” No limit at all, in fact.
 
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Dwalls90

macrumors 603
Feb 5, 2009
5,427
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My Samsung phone currently runes at 120hz and it is notable if I change it back down the 60hz. Smooth as butter
As someone who has both a Mac @ 60hz and a PC @ 144hz, I totally agree! Just saying that not all users or application uses may "need" 120hz, and therefore to conserve battery life, maybe it could turn down to 60hz.
 

macduke

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,133
19,663
How is a display that can run at different refresh rates patentable? This already exists. Is it just because it goes to 240Hz now? Patents are dumb.

Also, I'm gonna be pretty upset if the iPhone gets high refresh rate before the Mac does for crying out loud. It's already ridiculous that the iPad can do it first and PCs have done it for ages.
 

felixroqu3

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2012
639
618
New York, NY
This is why Apple doesn't jump the gun on many things as soon as other companies do so. They wait a couple years to perfect the technology, and once they do, it always ends up being a lot better and more reliable than the competition.
 

Cwoods

macrumors member
Apr 13, 2020
35
78
Battery life this battery life that. I still want to know why Apple is so obsessed with making a phone thin that they ignore the 99% of the world who would rather it be a little thicker with better features and battery life.
 

cmaier

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Jul 25, 2007
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Battery life this battery life that. I still want to know why Apple is so obsessed with making a phone thin that they ignore the 99% of the world who would rather it be a little thicker with better features and battery life.

If that was the case, those people would buy phones that were designed that way. Maybe Apple has a firmer grasp on what 99% of the world wants than you do?
 

skadd

macrumors regular
Mar 5, 2010
243
89
I've been wanting 240hz on iPad Pro for a while. 120 is not perfectly smooth for such a large display.

Also bring ProMotion to Mac, Apple!
 

nwcs

macrumors 68030
Sep 21, 2009
2,722
5,262
Tennessee
Maybe I don’t watch enough movies or play enough games but 120 or 240 is a bit of a yawn for me.
 

The Game 161

macrumors Nehalem
Dec 15, 2010
30,266
19,486
UK
I'm not sure this will happen but be clever if it did I just don't think battery life would be good enough to justify it but who knows in the future. having a patent doesn't mean much doesn't mean they will act on it
 

mazz0

macrumors 68040
Mar 23, 2011
3,130
3,576
Leeds, UK
Battery life this battery life that. I still want to know why Apple is so obsessed with making a phone thin that they ignore the 99% of the world who would rather it be a little thicker with better features and battery life.
And no camera lump
 

tipoo

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2017
572
774
"an ‌iPhone‌ with a 60Hz display would be able to increase its variable refresh rate to 120Hz, 180Hz, or 240Hz automatically."

Hopefully including all points between them so it can accommodate frame drops, rather than just the fixed points, right? I thought ProMotion did that but I was talking to someone who thought it didn't, and couldn't find a source to verify what I thought. Gsync/Freesync being able to adapt the display framerate smoothly to catch any framerate differences, rather than just a few fixed points, is arguably as big a thing as a higher refresh rate in terms of perceived smoothness, it would look near perfect all the time.

Though I do notice a lot of scrolling blur on OLED iPhones, that's where the higher refresh rates would help.
 
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