90Hz vs 60Hz display refresh rate revisited: can people tell the difference this time?
Back in July, we did our own 60Hz vs 90Hz display test, but while the results were interesting, they weren't conclusive as we only had one phone with a 90Hz display. Now that we have a bunch, we decided to redo the test using the OnePlus 7 Pro and the 7T Pro which have identical OLED displays, with the same resolution and diagonal size. We made sure to have the same color mode and brightness setting on both to make the screens appear identical. Then we set one to 90Hz and the other to 60Hz and went on to find some test subjects.
60Hz vs 90Hz: Confused average users edition
We handed the two phones side by side to 15 people with a Gmail inbox opened on both, where one could scroll up and down to their heart's desire. Then we told the participant to play with the phones without navigating to different pages. After that, we asked them to tell us if they could see any differences between the two displays. If they did, we asked what they were.
Getting a definitive answer during our 90Hz vs 60Hz test proved to be harder than expected. Because we couldn't say exactly which aspect of the displays we wanted people to compare, they interacted with the devices suspiciously. From comparing viewing angles to checking if the curvature of the edges was the same, it was clear that nothing struck them as different right off the bat.
11 people didn’t notice any difference in smoothness. 3 people said one looked smoother and picked the one set to 90Hz. 1 person said one looked smoother and picked the one set to 60Hz... for some reason.
Granted, the participants were limited in what they could do and how much time they had to experience the displays, but at the same time, having two almost identical displays side by side is when it should be the easiest to see the difference.
Eagle-eyed phone reviewer easily spots the 90Hz display
OK, maybe the average user doesn’t really notice a significant difference, but what about an expert? We brought in our colleague Victor to our test lab (desk). He’s been enjoying the 90Hz display of the OnePlus 7T for three months now and swears it’s much better than the peasant 60Hz. This was the perfect time for him to prove he actually knows what he’s talking about.
Since Victor is a pro, we cranked up the difficulty for this next test. Again, we handed both phones to him side by side, but we set the refresh rate setting on each randomly. And we did this for 6 rounds. Sometimes one phone was set to 90Hz and the other to 60Hz. Sometimes both were at 60Hz or 90Hz. Each round, Victor had to say what the refresh rate setting was on each phone. He was allowed to browse through different apps or menus (without the display settings menu, of course) before answering.
The result: 11 out of 12 correct answers. Very impressive. He was especially quick to point out a 90Hz display setting after noticing that scrolling through Gmail made for the most noticeable difference.
90Hz display vs 60Hz: the end results
Based on our tests, we can make the following conclusion: