What effect does the 120Hz refresh rate on the new Galaxy S20 series have on battery life?
In the past few days, we have been testing the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the Galaxy S20 Plus and the smaller Galaxy S20 to find out just what effect does switching to the new ultra-smooth 120Hz refresh rate have on battery life.
The results of our testing are now in and unfortunately, they do not speak well.
While originally, we found that you get nearly 20% worse battery life when you switch the 120Hz option on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, additional testing that we have now done after the early March update shows that the effect could actually be even more pronounced.
At the default 60Hz refresh rate, the Galaxy S20 Ultra lasts a whopping 12 hours and 23 minutes on our browsing and scrolling test, more than most other phones that we have tested, but if you switch to 120Hz, the results drop to somewhere between 10 hours and 9 hours and 15 minutes, meaning you get somewhere between 20% and 25% worse battery life.
Galaxy S20 Plus does similarly great when used at 60Hz: it lasts a bit more than the Ultra at 12 hours and 40 minutes on the same test, but switching to 120Hz has an even more dramatic effect on battery life. In 120Hz mode, the S20 Plus score drops to 8 hours and 30 minutes. This is an incredible difference of 33%, so you lose a third of your battery life when using the 120Hz option in this browsing + scrolling scenario.The
Similar story with the smaller Galaxy S20. It gets an excellent score at 60Hz when battery life reaches 12 hours and 12 minutes, but switch to 120Hz, and you notice a big drop in battery life to 7 hours and 45 minutes! It is the phone that is hit worst from using 120Hz as its battery life decreases by 36%.
This is unfortunate because it shows that the implementation of 120Hz on the latest Samsung phones really leaves room for improvement. Losing a quarter or more of the battery life for this handy option is definitely a very heavy price to pay.
Let's also clarify that the 120Hz refresh rate is something that you notice easily when just using the phone and scrolling around, but it makes no difference in video watching where content is recorded at a lower refresh rate and you don't benefit from the higher screen refresh. We also tested half a dozen of popular games and we did not find anyone compatible with the 120Hz option (but we guess some games will be optimized soon).
What is your experience with the new 120Hz display option on the latest Galaxies? Are you planning on using it despite the battery cost?