No, new iPhones do NOT have a 120-hertz screen refresh rate (sorry, gamers!)

No, new iPhones do NOT have a 120-hertz screen refresh rate (sorry, gamers!)
If you watched Apple's big 2018 iPhone unveil last night, you might have heard a very interesting number floated around: a 120 hertz display rate.

This may not speak much to you, but if you are a gamer, you probably know the difference that a screen with a faster refresh rate can make.

Here is the thing, though: the new iPhones do NOT actually have a 120-hertz refresh rate on their displays. The only phone that has that feature is the Razer Phone, a phone – not coincidentally – aimed at gamers.

So what did Apple mean when they mentioned the 120-hertz number?

To understand that, we need to understand the difference between something called a touch sample rate and a different term: the touch delivery rate. The new iPhones – all three of them, in fact, the iPhone XS, XS Max and the XR – have a 120-hertz touch sample rate, but still run on a regular 60-hertz refresh rate. In other words, the screens track you at 120-hertz, but refresh the display at 60 hertz. Still confused? To understand what this means, you simply need to understand that the hertz rate is a different way of saying how often a screen registers input. At 120 hertz, the interval is twice as short and the screen tracks movement every 8.3 milliseconds, while at 60 hertz it does the same tracking every 16.6 milliseconds. This way, having a faster tracking rate means that the screen can register your touch and respond by starting to render the next frame in an animation just in time for the next 16ms refresh interval.


If we had a 60-hertz tracking rate and a 60-hertz refresh rate, the tracking would end at the same time as the refresh interval, so the actual rendering of the animation would start one interval later. The end result in the new iPhones is that animations start faster and appear smoother, but this is not to be confused with a 120-hertz refresh rate. All of that also puts a bit of extra load on the system chip, so having the most powerful mobile chip on the new iPhones certainly helps.

So this should clear up all the confusion around the tracking rate and the refresh rate of the new iPhones.

Look at the table right below and you would see that the iPhone X actually has the same 120-hertz tracking and 60-hertz rendering, and it was the first actually the first iPhone with a faster tracking rate. The 120-hertz refresh rate is available on an Apple product that you can buy today, but it's Apple's iPad Pros and not an iPhone.

No, new iPhones do NOT have a 120-hertz screen refresh rate (sorry, gamers!)

Do you have any questions around all of this? Feel free to share them in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer.

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19 Comments

1. RoyalMike unregistered

Oh that's like cheating, I mean the way they were showing it in the unveil event... They fooled almost everyone in believing that it has 120 hertz refresh rate

7. Papa_Ji

Posts: 779; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

What someone can expect from a Fake company.... fake battery, fake OS, Fake display, fake Face unlocking, Fake file manager, fake payment service, Fake fast charging, Fake multitasking, fake 4g cellular network, Fake SoC, fake full vision display, fake... Fake..... Each and every promises is Fake. #FAKPLE

8. adecvat

Posts: 600; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Lolwut? They are clearly said 120Hz touch on presentation.

11. Boast_Rider

Posts: 531; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

No, they clearly stated that it's for touch sampling. They would have said that the display is promotion if they wanted to say that the display is 120Hz. I don't think we have 120Hz AMOLED panels yet, and won't have it for a while I believe. But even if we do get them, expect them in Samsung phones before Apple, since they will be the ones who make them.

2. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

So Apple kinda lied then basically. They shoulda made that clear, and not have been vague.

3. Victor.H

Posts: 1026; Member since: May 27, 2011

I agree, they definitely failed to make it all clear at the event.

9. adecvat

Posts: 600; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

No, watch presentation again.

10. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The first thing written in the keynote when availing the XS is "150Hz touch-SENSING". They used the term "120 Hz touch sensitive layer" Everything about that number was in connection to the "touch" and not the refresh rate, so how much clear should they have been?

4. SIGPRO

Posts: 2810; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

But is this really news? They are doing it for years, hope that people finally realize this.

5. SIGPRO

Posts: 2810; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Apple meant Xs and Xs Max are together 120hz, we just understood it incorrectly.

6. Mikele

Posts: 100; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

LAMOOO!!

19. Brewski

Posts: 660; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

Laughing ass my off off off?

12. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Glossing over important details is Apple's thing. Thing is, it works no better than competitors but alludes to being so much better, kind of like catfishing.

13. Phantom1031

Posts: 263; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

I am surprised about no response from apple goons, like piyath, kiko, etc to android goons in comments section. They always rush to save their cult brand

14. Phantom1031

Posts: 263; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

One thing I noticed in keynote was about battery stats, Phil said it will be amazing for iphone excess, thirty minutes more of amazing use, lmao, apple never reveals such things in keynotes and you need to dig yourself, I mean why they have keynote when they hide key features from masses, and the way they sugar coat is amazing

15. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3090; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

That's a bummer. I would definitely get one if that's the case.

16. Joosty

Posts: 462; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

I was kind of surprised until I heard him say , “and that’s why touching our screens is the best!” Then I realized he meant touch inputs

17. Ikechukwu

Posts: 246; Member since: Oct 03, 2011

They knew and KNOW that they'll get a lot of confused buyers by adding that number 120Hz. These things are the way things work, unfortunately.

18. gamehead unregistered

Well that was misleading

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