The Razer Phone has an awesome 120Hz display, and here's how it works

The Razer Phone has an awesome 120Hz display, and here's how it works

Razer made headlines this week with the announcement of a new product (whose list of design features somehow lacks an array of rainbow-colored LED lights). The Razer Phone, as it is called, is essentially a phone made with high performance in mind – one built around top-notch hardware specs a passionate mobile gamer would demand. One component in particular – that 5.7-inch "UltraMotion" display – makes Razer's first phone unique and even more worthy of attention than it already is.

ALSO READ: The Razer Phone is here and it's insane!


So what's the big deal, you might be wondering. Long story short, the Razer Phone's screen is capable of displaying noticeably smoother, more fluid visuals when moving objects are shown on screen, much like a higher-end computer monitor. It is a difference you can't unsee – one that makes anything from scrolling through your Twitter feed to riding a hydrojet in Riptide GP Renegade even more enjoyable. But how does all the magic happen?

The illusion of movement

 
A warning is due at this point: we're about to dive into the technicalities of how displays work, but fear not, as we'll try to keep things as simple as possible. 

First and foremost, it is important to understand that movement – or the illusion of it – is created by displaying a series of images (or frames) in a rapid succession. The animation shown here, for instance, is drawn at 10 frames per second (FPS). Basically speaking, the higher the frame rate, the smoother the motion would appear to the human eye. This is why your phone's interface, which ideally runs at around 60FPS, looks much more fluid than this 10FPS movie clip. 

Hooray for horses!

Hooray for horses!


Frame rate vs refresh rate


A GPU (graphics processing unit) in a smartphone is tasked with rendering frames, and it does that as fast as it can because a higher frame rate results in smoother motion. By nature, this frame rate isn't constant. It may drop below the ideal 60FPS the system aims for since complex graphics require more time to be rendered.

At the same time, the screen has a specification called a refresh rate – the rate at which visual information is updated line by line. The refresh rate is usually a constant value, and for most of today's displays, it stands at 60Hz or 60 refreshes per second. This process is too fast to be visible with a naked eye, so to show you what a refreshing screen looks like, we pointed a high-speed camera at a computer's LCD display. You can see how the screen refreshes from one frame to the next one line at a time. 


To sum things up, the rate at which a GPU draws frames does not match the rate at which the screen displays them. That's not a good thing. In fact, it may cause perceivable delays and stuttering – not something you want while gaming. These issues are caused by the fact that the GPU might finish rendering a frame in the middle of a display refresh cycle. This will result in a lag of up to 16.6 milliseconds until a new frame is finally drawn – the Android system is designed to wait for the beginning of the next display refresh cycle to render the frame. Sure, 16 milliseconds do not sound like much, but the lag can be noticeable, especially in a fast-paced gaming session.

When a frame takes longer to render, a noticeable lag may occur.

When a frame takes longer to render, a noticeable lag may occur.


Razer's solution: UltraMotion display tech and 120Hz refresh rate


There are two key factors that minimize lag and make visuals smoother on the Razer Phone's UltraMotion display. Firstly, the screen and the GPU are in sync. Instead of being set to a fixed refresh rate, the display dynamically sets its refresh rate to match the output of the GPU. This eliminates the potential for lags and stuttering to occur.

Secondly, the display on the Razer Phone supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. A typical 60Hz display cannot effectively display over 60 frames per second due to its refresh rate limitation. The Razer Phone, however, can display up to 120 frames per second thanks to its higher refresh rate. And the higher the refresh rate, the smoother moving objects would appear in compatible games and apps.

The Razer Phone display sets its refresh rate in sync with the GPU's output

The Razer Phone display sets its refresh rate in sync with the GPU's output


The fine print: compatibility and power consumption


There's no denying that Razer's phone is on top of the display tech game. We're also confident that displays with higher refresh rates will become more and more popular within the high-end smartphone segment. But today's apps and games might not be capable of taking full advantage of the Razer Phone's UltraMotion display. 

To be clear, on the Razer Phone you should expect seeing smoother visuals in all kinds of activities thanks to the display's dynamically adjusted refresh rate. But for now only few games will tap into its ability to display up to 120 frames per second. Sure, the number of compatible titles is only going to grow over time, but the majority of game titles right now are hardwired to run at no more than 60 frames per second. Games that will run at up to 120FPS on the Razer Phone include Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, Gear.Club, Lineage 2: Revolution, Runescape and Old School RuneScape, Shadowgun Legends, Tekken, Titanfall: Assault, and World of Tanks Blitz, as well as the upcoming Arena of Valor.

It must be also mentioned that running the screen at higher refresh rates would increase its power consumption. We're not sure how much of an impact on battery life this would have, but we do know that Razer has built in a setting that lets us set the balance between performance and battery life. Also, the user may set the refresh rate to a fixed value of 60, 90, or 120Hz, if they desire.

READ MORE ABOUT RAZER PHONE:


Related phones

Phone
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh

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38 Comments

1. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4766; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

This is one phone I would definitely like to have a hands on!

9. iSeeU

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 03, 2017

One huge let down is the 3.5 jack....

19. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

This is basically the only minus if you like big screens. That is, if the camera doesn't suck and I'm pretty sure it will

22. drifter77

Posts: 400; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

I've seen camera samples on GSMA and they look awesome.. to me at least.

21. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 709; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

And not dustproof and waterproof.

25. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

nah. Wires are dead

35. rsiders

Posts: 1863; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Usually I would agree but with front firing speakers that good who cares? Just use Bluetooth if you don't want to disturb someone or in a quiet place. Otherwise blast those amazing speakers.

2. pokharkarsaga

Posts: 545; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Developers needs to optimize games to support 120fps.Bored with 60fps.

3. kiko007

Posts: 7469; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Ha... good luck with that.

7. iSeeU

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 03, 2017

Only thing left is Android to run on 120hz. It will will be super duper extremely snappy. Forget about iOS smooooth junk.....

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Real talk!

17. mikehunta727 unregistered

iPad Pro is 120hz. Ah, I remember when many fanboys on here were trashing 120 hz as another gimmick but now that Android OEMs launches devices with 120 hz, its now glorious and was never a gimmick Told yall fanboys 120 hz is fucking awesome!

24. ph00ny

Posts: 1986; Member since: May 26, 2011

Games yes but does it really matter that much when you're scrolling on a webpage?

30. GreenMan

Posts: 2694; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Yes, it DOES matter while scrolling on a webpage. I've an 85Hz monitor, and there's a VERY NOTICEABLE difference between 60 and 85Hz when surfing the web on Google Chrome. Not only that, but even animations like minimizing and maximizing feels MUCH smoother! It's not a gimmick, it's the real deal. Kudos to Apple for pushing this technology in mobile computers (Tablets & Smartphones, I mean). As for the concerns about battery timing and system resources, my computer idles at 2% CPU usage with anti-virus running in the background at 60Hz. Cranking up the refresh rate to 85Hz bumps it to 3% every now and then but it mostly stays at 2%. So, barely a difference in CPU usage in my experience, so I'm positive that it won't have that big of an impact on battery life. Will probably use some more GPU cycles than usual, but nothing intense or noticeable. Oh well, G'Day!

31. mikehunta727 unregistered

It really does matter that much and is a very visible improvement

4. Settings

Posts: 2942; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Makes me think twice about buying the V30 in the holidays. And that $700 price tag is irresistible but that 3.5mm omission is a let down.

5. DavMor0069

Posts: 266; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

I thought that smartphones were at their peak of innovation, and then this happen. Now I want this in my next flagship.

12. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

There is really no such thing as peak innovation. There is always room for improvement.

15. LiLLicky

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 27, 2017

U are spot on. This is currently the most high tech phone available imo. I already reserved my spot at razor website for the limited addition. So glad I canceled my x order and will save $450. Imagine that apple?

18. mikehunta727 unregistered

We believe you don't worry

28. LiLLicky

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 27, 2017

And we believe u r funny. Not.

32. mikehunta727 unregistered

I am funny and I'm right

37. Xilam unregistered

Apple already sells iPads with 120mhz display...where were you when android brethren were trashing it?

6. iSeeU

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 03, 2017

Sony Z design replica Sony only phone along with the Z the design I really adore Square boxy sharo edges, the N8 and Nokia phones are similar. The rest off the phones I find and are ugly. Why? Curved corners and comfy to grip. No Thanks. Insane 8gb Ram. Running Touchwiz and having all the Verizon sprint and At&T bloat will still not slow this phone down. Because off Ram. Any one will take more Ram over cpu speed.

10. aegislash

Posts: 1437; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

'Curved corners and comfy to grip. No thanks.' So a phone being comfortable to hold is an issue for you? That's definitely a complaint I have never heard before.

13. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

It's about aesthetics... I too prefer curved corners.

8. qwertsun

Posts: 42; Member since: Dec 02, 2015

As a user who has 120HZ Japanese AQUOS phones for 2 years, it is pleasant to see SHARP's technology being utilised by the greater market.

14. bucknassty

Posts: 1296; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

at least someone realizes this isnt new

16. redmd

Posts: 1902; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Is 120Hz refresh rate the solution for lag?

23. Arashmahmoodi25

Posts: 128; Member since: Apr 07, 2017

No. The problem is the source. The OS itself. Android is a messy OS with a great UI and iOS is a great OS with a messy UI. For example the pixel 2 can't even beat iPhone 6 in browsing web (Jetstream) , why ? You know that the processor in pixel 2 is a monster compare to iPhone 6, iOS is better for our future but it's under control of some slow brain people , maybe Tim dies and some good man will help this generation. I'm really concern about this about our life. And I'm tryin...

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