Apple has already confirmed that its latest batch of iPhones will be a little delayed this year due to the ongoing pandemic – skipping the usual September launch window and instead aiming to land on store shelves sometime in October or November. And that might not be the only disappointment for Apple fans patiently saving their pennies for the latest and greatest from the Cupertino-based company.
According to one of the more prominent leaksters around, Jon Prosser – founder of Front Page Tech on YouTube, Apple has made the last-minute decision to drop the 120Hz high refresh-rate display from its latest smartphones. Originally rumoured to be announced as the headline feature of the iPhone 11 Pro, it was widely assumed that a high-refresh panel would be included in the iPhone 12 Pro.
For those who don’t know, iPhones currently use a 60Hz panel, which means the screen refreshes 60 times every second. While that’s more than good enough to watch movies (these are shot at 24 frames-per-second) and play games, the vast majority of flagship smartphones are now using 120Hz panels. These displays boast twice the number of frames – so system animations look smoother, fast-paced games are more frenetic, and the touchscreen feels more responsive as it reacts to your fingertip much quicker.
Apple has used 120Hz panels in its iPad Pro range since June 2017. Dubbed Promotion by its marketing team, Apple uses a variable refresh rate to conserve battery life – dropping to 24-frames-per-second if you’re watching a film, but cranking up to the full 120Hz when scrolling through websites and drawing with the Apple Pencil.
According to Prosser, these 120Hz panels aren’t ready to mass production in the quantity (and more importantly for Apple’s bottom-line) the yield needed for the best-selling iPhone. Prosser tweeted: “120hz (codename: d6x) didn’t make mass production now you can give up.”
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This was backed by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a stellar track record when it comes to details about as-yet-unannounced Apple hardware. According to Kuo, Apple will drop plans to include a 120Hz display on all four iPhone models – but not because of any production issues. Kuo states that Apple took the decision to strip out the high-refresh panel because 5G support has already severely impacted battery life on the new models, and adding a 120Hz screen would have “significantly hurt the user experience.”
If Prosser and Ming-Chi Kuo are right and Apple can’t get a high-refresh rate panel into the iPhone until late-2021 it’s going to be incredibly late to the party. OnePlus was one of the first mainstream manufacturers to bring high-refresh rates to OLED touchscreens on smartphones with the 90Hz display on its OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro 5G. The technology is fast-becoming the standard on Samsung smartphones, with the Galaxy S20 Plus, Galaxy S20 Ultra, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G all boasting these displays.
Countless others – Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, OPPO Find X2, Xiaomi Mi 10, Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G, OnePlus 8 Pro, and Asus ROG Phone 3 to name a few – are already available on store shelves right now with the feature.
Fortunately, one area where Apple is rumoured to catch-up with some of its biggest rivals is support for 5G. Given that Apple keeps its handsets updated with the latest software for four or five years, the latest iPhone models really needed to support this ultrafast mobile technology, which offers speeds faster than the average home broadband connection. 5G is still slowly rolling out to all corners of the UK, but support for the new standard is a must if you’re planning to hang onto your next phone for a good few years.