The iPhones coming down the pike next year could use 120 Hz screens, doubling the refresh rate and resulting in smoother scrolling, faster action in games and other benefits.
ProMotion automatically adjusts the display refresh rate to match the movement of the content. Considering that ProMotion also makes Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro series more responsive, it’s not a stretch to imagine that a future iPhone with a ProMotion display could get its own Apple Pencil-style tool down the road.
Apple won’t be the first to market a 120 Hz phone—those bragging rights belong to Razer, which at the end of 2017 launched its own smartphone with a display running at 120 Hz.
Aside from smoother and faster everything, I think Apple is motivated to upgrade the iPhone Retina technology to ProMotion at this particular point in time due to its rumored augmented reality headset said to arrive next year. It’s said to use iPhone for processing and graphics, which makes it sound as if it’ll be an iPhone accessory rather than a standalone headset.
If such a device might be something we would put our iPhones into, it better have a high refresh rate because any head-worn display with a refresh rate below 96 Hz causes virtual reality sickness with symptoms like general discomfort, headache, stomach awareness, nausea, vomiting, pallor, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness, disorientation and even apathy.
ProMotion made its debut on the second-generation iPad Pro in 2017.
So far, it hasn’t made a leap to the regular or mini iPads. On the iPad Pro family, ProMotion dynamically adapts the screen refresh rate depending on the type of content show. Play a movie or read a piece of static content like a book and it may drop to a Hollywood-friendly 24 fps. But when the tablet detects frequent content changes, the refresh rate gets boosted to 30 or 60 fps, and going all the way up to 120 Hz when scrolling etc.
Here’s Apple’s description of ProMotion:
ProMotion technology. Only on iPad Pro. ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the display’s refresh rate based on what you’re doing for the most responsive performance possible. So whether you’re scrolling through pages in Safari, playing an intense 3D game or drawing a complex illustration with Apple Pencil, everything feels utterly smooth, fast and immersive.
By automatically adjusting the display refresh rate to match the movement of the content, ProMotion also helps reduce power consumption.
While all current iPhone models from iPhone X onward feature a touch layer that samples input 120 times per second, resulting in faster and smoother gestures, the display frequency remains capped at 60 Hz. On iPad Pro, touch input sensitivity is double the iPhone’s at 240 Hz in order to make Apple’s stylus even more responsive, effectively halving its latency.