Potential Samsung Note 20 and Galaxy S21 screens certified as 'Seamless Display' with 90Hz refresh mode

Potential Samsung Note 20 and Galaxy S21 screens certified as 'Seamless Display' with 90Hz refresh
Samsung Display, the panel maker for the Galaxy and Note lines, just bragged for Korean media that it has received an SGS certification for two products - 90Hz and 120Hz OLED screens - trademarked as "Seamless Display."

SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) is established in 1878, and says that "we certify components and finished products for wide range of goods, for both consumer and commercial products," i.e. it is one of the leading test and certification organizations globally. It is the one that certified the Galaxy S20 series panel as "Eye Care Display" due to the very low blue light emissions.

The filings refer to the marketing name "Seamless Display," as the company claims they are the best in the industry, since motion is 20%-50% smoother than competing 90Hz/120Hz display panels.

Wait, what? Since when does Samsung have a 90Hz OLED display refresh rate value, and even one that can be switched from 120Hz to 90Hz, as the report's listing suggests by writing 90Hz (120Hz) for one of the certified "Seamless Display" panel technologies? Here comes the rumor mill.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S21 display specs

On the S20 series, instead of hardware components to manage dynamic refresh rates depending on the content, Samsung has a software stack. While its code does reference various refresh rate levels - from 48Hz to 120Hz - an automatic refresh rate solution hasn't been implemented for some reason, so it stays either at 60Hz or at 120Hz at all times, and the latter is a battery hog.

Unlike the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the OnePlus 8 Pro display can be driven with a 120Hz refresh rate at the full 1440p screen resolution, and variable refresh, for instance. How was OnePlus able to do this if Samsung wouldn't for the S20 series, even though the panel is supplied by Samsung?

Well, Samsung didn't splurge on additional hardware components, while the 6.78" panel of the 8 Pro comes with the latest dedicated Iris 5 visual processor from Pixelworks that sits between the display controller and the system graphics chip, and allows to run the display at 120Hz in full QHD+ resolution. Pixelworks also requires post-production calibration for each individual panel from every manufacturer that uses its chip, too, resulting in the stellar color gamut coverage of 8 Pro or Oppo Find X2 Pro that uses the same display.

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Moreover, the OnePlus 8 Pro has automatic refresh that defaults to, say, 120Hz when you are browsing, and drops to 60Hz when you are watching a frame-upscaled video. Since video is usually shot at 24fps or 30fps, the 120Hz refresh can go to waste, but OnePlus used the Iris 5's chip custom motion estimation-motion compensation (MEMC) solution that can upscale lower frame rates to match the higher display refresh. Thus, it is gentler on its battery in 120Hz mode than the S20 Ultra thanks to the auto refresh rate pick that the software will do, whereas the S20 runs the phone's display on 120Hz at all times.

In the SGS certification filing, however, Samsung Display's 90Hz (120Hz) and 120Hz refresh rate smartphone OLED panels exhibited image drag length (Blur Length) of less than 0.9mm or 0.7mm. Coupled with video response speed (MPRT) of less than 14ms or 11ms for those panels, Samsung claims that these results beat the competition by the aforementioned 20%-50%. Now, which Galaxy or Note phones would get the Seamless Display?

According to display supply chain analyst Ross Young, the Galaxy Note 20 and 20+ will sport displays with the following specs:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20: 6.42" 2345 x 1084, 404 PPI, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz with LTPO or 60Hz LTPS
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Plus: 6.87" 3096 x 1444, 497 PPI, 19.3:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz with LTPO refresh rate

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Now, the LTPS (Low-temperature polycrystalline silicon) vs LTPO (Low Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide) part is interesting here. Without boring you with the details, we'd just add that the LTPO tech is 5-15% more power-efficient than LTPS on the S20 Ultra. Furthermore, it allows for easier hardware-based dynamic refresh, frame upscaling, and other controls that we are already seeing on phones like OnePlus 8 Pro.

With the Note 20 and 20+, Samsung has apparently decided to fix certain drawbacks found in the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and the "Seamless Display" certification may be one piece of the new features puzzle. 

What about the references to a 90Hz panel or mode, though? As these currently don't exist on the S20 series, we'd wager to guess that Samsung will be using the "Seamless Display" panels for the Note 20 series but, more interestingly, we can look as far ahead as the Galaxy S21 trio. Remember those rumors that Samsung will use a 90Hz display mode on Galaxy S21 models? Well, Samsung's "Seamless Display" 90Hz/120Hz certifications below pour more water into that respective mill.

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