The OnePlus 9 Pro display is Samsung's, here's when 1Hz and 120Hz refresh rates kick in

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The OnePlus 9 Pro display is Samsung's, here's when 1Hz and 120Hz refresh rates kick in
The OnePlus 9 Pro display is one of the best, if not the best mobile display we've ever tested in the 9 Pro review (we are still to run the wide color profiles on it). By all quality points that matter - near-perfect gamma and Delta E numbers, low minimum and high peak brightness, as well as reference white balance point and low reflectivity - the panel delivers outstanding numbers but that is only the Pixelworks calibration part of the story.

OnePlus 9 - 8 GB RAM + 128 GB Storage

$729
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OnePlus 9 Pro - 12GB + 256GB storage

$1069
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The other part is the hardware itself, and it turns out that the 6.78" 1440 OLED panel is made by Samsung, tips The Elec, with its newfangled LTPO technology that is on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and, eventually, will be on the iPhone 13 Pro models as well. Besides being more frugal (up to 46% less power consumption than a similar non-LTPO panel with fixed refresh rate, says Oppo), the technology allows for hardware-level control of the refresh rate, and OnePlus has used this to the extreme.

OnePlus phone maker cites 1Hz-120Hz dynamic refresh rate for the 9 Pro panel, depending on the content shown, which is the most granular refresh rate ever announced for a phone display. Samsung Display calls this Adaptive Frequency, but it only goes down to 10Hz on the S21 Ultra, while the previous record-holder, Oppo's Find X3 Pro, cites a 5Hz-120Hz range.

OnePlus 9 Pro 1Hz-120Hz display refresh rate scenarios


The source that disclosed how Samsung made the OnePlus 9 Pro display also tips the nitty gritty details about the various refresh rate use cases: "the panel drive power can be improved by variably applying the refresh rate to 120 Hz (Hz) for mobile games that require fast screen switching, 60 Hz for movies, 30 Hz for e-mails, and 10 Hz for still images."

To be frank, we noticed that in its "high dynamic" refresh rate mode, the screen stays at 120Hz most of the time, and only switches to 60Hz when playing videos or in Google Photos. Some apps run at 60Hz or 90Hz, too, but we only noticed the display dip below 60Hz refresh to 48Hz for a brief second once. That is why we asked OnePlus when would the 9 Pro display run at 1Hz, as touted in the press release, and got the following:


As you can see, the down-to-1Hz usage scenario must be pretty specific and isolated, while most of the time the screen would run either at 60Hz or 120Hz, depending on whether you are browsing, in the interface, watching videos, or using apps. 

Another somewhat strange stat is that the 120Hz refresh during our tasking browse/scroll battery test doesn't take nearly as much of a toll on the battery endurance as it should compared to the same test run at fixed 60Hz refresh. Either the LTPO display's hardware controllers switch seamlessly between lower and higher refresh rate, so as to use 120Hz only when absolutely necessary, or the technology is indeed very frugal at higher refresh rates. 

hours Higher is better
OnePlus 9 Pro
11h 45 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
16h 7 min
Apple iPhone 12
12h 33 min
Google Pixel 5
12h 40 min
Samsung Galaxy S20
12h 12 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
12h 28 min

In any case, gone seem to be the days of the Galaxy S20 series, whose fixed 120Hz refresh and software controls returned nearly a 30% higher toll on the battery when running the panel in the high refresh mode. Good riddance, soon there will be no point of a 60Hz/120Hz switch, and the phones will manage the refresh seamlessly all by themselves without battery life hit concerns.

Related phones

9 Pro
  • OS Android 11 OxygenOS UI
  • Display 6.7 inches 3216 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 48 MP (Quad camera) 16 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4500 mAh

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