Apple files display patents with refresh rates from 60Hz to a crazy 240Hz

Despite phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21, OnePlus 8T and many others having a 120Hz refresh rate, the iPhone 12 range is stuck at 60Hz, but with the iPhone 13, Apple might leapfrog its competitors.

A win for Apple

A while back, there were reports persisting over the arrival of a 120Hz display for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max that will also feature ‘Always on’ display. The Always on display was first introduced in the Moto X all the way back in 2013 termed as “Active Display”. This time, Apple has also managed another win. According to USPTO, the technology giant has been granted a patent that relates to a display operating at different refresh rates.

Patently Apple spotted the Cupertino patent, which was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It describes displays with high refresh rate modes, allowing them to operate at two times (120Hz), three times (180Hz), or four times (240Hz) the native refresh rate of 60Hz. It’s also noted that the native refresh rate might be higher than 60Hz.

Some of the examples suggest that the native refresh rate could also be higher than 60Hz. If it’s 120Hz then it could reach 240Hz by simply operating at two times that.

By having two (or more) different refresh rates offered, you’d potentially be able to choose which you prefer. A higher refresh rate means the screen refreshes more frequently, which can make interactions feel smoother, but can also affect battery life, so you may want to stick with a lower rate.

Alternatively, it’s possible that this would function as a variable refresh rate – automatically switching refresh rates based on what’s most appropriate for the app or features you’re using.

A big leap

While some phones have edged above 120Hz, with, for example, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel having a 144Hz refresh rate, no widely available ones have yet reached 240Hz, so if the iPhone 13 does go that high it could be a big win.

That said, there’s no guarantee that it will, or even that anything will come of this patent at all, But it’s not the first time we’ve heard that the iPhone 13 range might have at least a 120Hz refresh rate.

And while this patent primarily talks about the iPhone, it also mentions that these higher refresh rates could come to other Apple devices eventually, such as the Apple Watch or the iPad – though the iPad Pro range already has a 120Hz variable refresh rate.

The advantage of having such displays on smartphones is they will dynamically switch between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on the type of content being display. This helps to conserve battery life, which will be paramount for Apple because all iPhone 13 models are expected to feature upgraded 5G modems. Possibly in the near future, we might see Apple bring 120Hz support on all four models, assuming it plans on launching four premium models in 2022.

We have been eagerly awaiting Apple to up the refresh rate on its iPhones. The iPad Pro has had ProMotion 120Hz displays available since 2017, and rival phones like the Galaxy S21 or OnePlus 8 Pro already have 120Hz screens. The iPhone 12 line looked like it was going to get 120Hz too until a couple of months before launch, when its impact on battery life apparently caused Apple to switch back to 60Hz.

Kiran Fernandes

Kiran is your friendly neighbourhood tech enthusiast who's passionate about all kinds of tech, goes crazy over 4G and 5G networks, and has recently sparked an interest in sci-fi and cosmology.

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