Apple files patent for iPhone screen with refresh rates up to 240 Hz

Much has been said about smartphone screens with 120 Hz refresh rates. Despite being an evolution in screen technology, it is not a condition sine qua non for a screen to be excellent, as Apple showed with the iPhone 12 Pro Max screen. However, the Cupertino company always wants to go further and has now received the registration patent that allows a screen to have varying refresh rates up to 240 Hz.

The new patent was published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office that describes the technology that Apple created for the iPhone screen.


Patent may bring update rates up to 240 Hz to the iPhone screen

The iPhone 12 had in its many rumors, pre-launch, a screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. However, Apple decided, for reasons that only the brand knows, not to bet on this technology. However, a new patent has now been filed which describes an iPhone screen that, with the high update mode enabled, may be able to update the content at two, three, or even four times the native refresh rate, as reported by Patently Apple.

For example, an iPhone with a 60 Hz screen would be able to increase its variable refresh rate to 120 Hz, 180 Hz, or 240 Hz automatically.

But what is the refresh rate?

For those unfamiliar, the refresh rate refers to how many times a screen is updated every second. Roughly speaking, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the content shown on that screen. All current iPhones have a 60 Hz refresh rate, but since 2017, all iPad Pro models have ProMotion technology, allowing a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

Tip: To find out what your device’s refresh rate is, use this service. Tell us what number was shown to you.

As mentioned above, the 120 Hz rumors that were aimed at the iPhone 12 proved to be false, but there is renewed confidence that ProMotion technology will make an appearance on the iPhone 13. During last year’s rumored cycle, some claimed the iPhone 12 would automatically switch between 60 Hz and 120 Hz, depending on what the user was doing on their device. This dynamic aimed to preserve battery life.

While a device’s ability to switch between 60 Hz and 120 Hz is not new, the patent that describes the ability of an iPhone to push the refresh rate to 180 Hz or 240 Hz is.

Patent shows that Apple has more ambitious plans

The lack of a 120 Hz refresh rate on the iPhone so far may be linked to Apple’s policy to be careful with the battery. That is, adding features like ProMotion can be detrimental to battery life or the performance of the entire system. Rumors suggest that Apple will overcome this energy consumption dilemma by adopting low-power LTPO display technology for iPhone 13 models, allowing 120 Hz without a significant impact on battery life.

A higher refresh rate could be beneficial for several use cases, such as games and augmented reality. If a user is simply watching a movie or sending messages to a friend, the screen can revert to its native 60 Hz refresh rate as a way to save battery life.

This week, new rumors claim that, along with a refresh rate of 120 Hz, the alignment of the iPhone 13 will also have a screen always on. The always-on screens allow users to view certain information, such as the time, date, or battery life, at any time.

All high-end iPhones since the iPhone X feature OLED screens, which means that each pixel is controlled individually, allowing the device to only illuminate the pixels necessary to show users limited information, while preserving battery life.

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