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

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Sure, the title of this story might lead you to believe I’m trying to excuse Apple for omitting ProMotion on its more affordable iPhone flagships, but listen to me…

ProMotion (120Hz) debuted in June 2017 on the iPad Pro. Since then, tech geeks 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 started receiving 120Hz displays in the fall of 2017 and 2018, while the OnePlus 7 Pro brought the feature to the mainstream in 2019 with a 90Hz OLED panel. which marked a turning point in the way we view smartphone display quality.

In true Apple fashion, though, it took Cupertino quite some time to get the iPhone into the same high refresh rate trend, with Android users showering in 90-120Hz greatness in the meantime. Many tech enthusiasts and tipsters like the famous Ice Universe expected ProMotion to debut iPhone 12 Pro in 2020, 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 would allow for a variable refresh rate that extends battery life, and that’s exactly what happened.

Show refresh rates on iPhone and Android: Why omission of ProMotion isn’t a deal breaker for iPhone 13 and iPhone 14

Now, of course, the variable 10-120Hz ProMotion display iPhone 13 Pro is a treat† You can definitely tell the difference with a 60Hz iPhone/Android screen when scrolling through the UI and while gaming (if the game supports 120Hz, which isn’t as common as you might expect).

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

On the other hand I can’t say the same about my Google Pixel 6 Pro once I pick the refresh rate from 120Hz to 60Hz (you can do this to save battery life, which might be something you want to do on the power-guzzling Pixel).

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

60 Hz iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 screens: Practically as smooth as 90 Hz on other phones and much smoother than 60 Hz on Android

So the question here is, “Why does a 60Hz iPhone screen feel smoother than 60Hz on Android? And if I’m honest, there doesn’t seem to be any final answer to this question, but as it often happens in life, history and google might be able to help…

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

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

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

Then there’s Google’s take on the problem… Upon the release of Android 12, Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Android, made an interesting statement, which I happened to report more than a year ago:

What Samat was referring to was Google’s intent to gain more control over background processes such as the Android system server, the activity window, and the 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 simultaneously trying to respond to simple user input and the aforementioned background processes. For the record, none of this has anything to do with screen refresh rates or even touch sampling rates.

Does the screen touch sampling rate make a difference?

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

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

Ultimately, Apple’s decision to keep ProMotion exclusive to its Pro iPhones will be divisive. Of course, Twitter tech enthusiasts will be upset that iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max don’t get this special feature, but that’s what phone geeks (like me) tend to do…

Wouldn’t it be great if Apple gave the vanilla iPhone a 90Hz display, which would literally strike a perfect balance between a 60Hz and a 120Hz panel and be a great compromise? Secure! Who knows – maybe in 2023 Tim Cook & Co will change their mind…

As of now, however, I can reassure you that an iPhone with a 60Hz screen feels a lot smoother than an Android phone with a 60Hz, and almost as smooth as an Android with 90Hz, and I think you’ll be very pleased if you go for it. chooses to go. I know – that’s a bold claim! But seeing the Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 13 side by side (matched for refresh rate) would quickly put you on my side.

Here’s the bottom line, at least according to my testing and impressions:

  • Android phones needed a lot more 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 almost 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 associated with a variable refresh rate aren’t a reason to do so (iPhone 13 without ProMotion delivers better battery life than iPhone 13 Pro, simply by using a slightly larger cell)

PS: And before I go, I have to admit that prior to the launch of the iPhone 13 series, I predicted that iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max would feel much smoother for people who get the chance to test them, and therefore the Pro- models could sell better than the cheaper iPhone 13.

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