However, in true Apple fashion, it took Cupertino quite a while to get the iPhone on the same high-refresh-rate trend, while in the meantime Android users were showering in 90-120Hz greatness. Many tech enthusiasts and tipsters like the famous Ice Universe were expecting ProMotion to debut with iPhone 12 Pro in 2020, but this didn’t happen. Back then, top display analyst Ross Young told us that Apple would implement ProMotion in 2021, as the company was readying LTPO displays which will allow for a variable refresh rate that preserves battery life, and it’s exactly what happened.
Sure, the article’s title might give you the impression that I’m trying to justify Apple’s decision to omit ProMotion on its more cheap iPhone flagships, but bear with me. In June 2017, the iPad Pro made its debut with ProMotion (120Hz). Since then, tech enthusiasts have eagerly anticipating the release of the iPhone with a 120Hz refresh rate. The OnePlus 7 Pro introduced the feature to the general public in 2019 with a 90Hz OLED panel, which marked a shift in how we perceive smartphone display quality. In the meantime, gaming Android phones like the original Razer Phone and Asus ROG phone began receiving 120Hz displays in the fall of 2017 and 2018.
Display refresh rates on iPhone and Android: Why the omission of ProMotion isn’t a dealbreaker for iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 The OnePlus 7 Pro was unrivalled when it came to smoothness. – No 120Hz display for iPhone 14: But Apple has a secret for smooth performance (that Android doesn’t). The OnePlus 7 Pro was unrivalled when it came to smoothness. Now, sure, the variable 10-120Hz ProMotion display on iPhone 13 Pro is a treat. You can certainly notice the difference from a 60Hz iPhone/Android display while scrolling through the UI and while gaming (if the game supports 120Hz, which isn’t as common as you’d expect).
I also can’t say the same about my Huawei P30 Pro, which has a display that’s fixed at 60Hz. There’s something that simply makes the iPhone’s 60Hz panel look noticeably smoother than most (if not all) Android phones that operate at an equivalent refresh rate. This is virtually impossible to show on camera, so you either have to take my word for it, or test it out for yourself during your next trip to the Apple store. 60Hz iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 displays: Practically as smooth as 90Hz on other phones and far smoother than 60Hz on Android. No 120Hz display for iPhone 14: But Apple has a secret for smooth performance (that Android doesn’t). So, the question here is: “Why does a 60Hz iPhone screen feel smoother than 60Hz on Android? And if I’m being honest, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer to this question, but as it often happens in life, history and Google might be able to help.
However, as someone who’s been using the vanilla iPhone 13 for some time now, I can’t help but notice that this display simply doesn’t feel “inferior” to me, and that’s surprising, but also… not all that surprising. On the other hand, I can’t say the same about my Google Pixel 6 Pro once I dial its 120Hz refresh rate to 60Hz (you can do this to preserve battery life, which might be something you want to do on the power-hungry Pixel).
If we go back in time (before 2019), we’ll see that iPhones have always felt “smoother” than Android phones. Whether it came to scrolling, animations, opening, closing apps, etc. – Apple’s devices have always had that thing that made them feel more fluid than an Android phone. If we look past the scrolling (which is where a higher refresh rates really shine), five years after the debut of the iPhone X, there still isn’t an Android phone that can match Apple’s incredible gesture navigation implementation, regardless of screen refresh rate and despite the fact that Android phones have made great progress in that area.