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One of the Galaxy S20’s best features doesn’t work at maximum screen resolution

One of the Galaxy S20’s best features doesn’t work at maximum screen resolution
Smartphone hardware has evolved to the point where we’ve almost reached peak levels of “smoothness.” Screens have gotten bigger, more pixel dense, and more color accurate, ensuring that everything appears crisp and vibrant. High-end phones are so powerful now, that the user interface can be more richly animated and more responsive to the touch than ever before. But there’s another important thing that affects how “smooth” a device feels, software-wise, and it is only now becoming a thing in the smartphone world. We’re talking about screen refresh rate.

Simply put, screen refresh rate is how many times the screen can update the image displayed on it per second. Higher refresh rates allow for motion to appear smoother and more life-like. Games can run faster and the interface can feel extra responsive, because the screen is updating more often. Over the past year, we’ve seen more phones that can go higher than the standard 60Hz refresh rate, including the Google Pixel 4, OnePlus 7 Pro, and Asus ROG Phone 2, to name just a few.

Samsung’s latest flagships, the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra are big on all fronts – size, resolution, and refresh rate. The new Galaxy S20 models are equipped with beautiful, pixel-dense AMOLED displays with super-quick 120Hz refresh rate. They can display ultra-sharp imagery, rich colors, and extremely smooth motion, but not all at the same time, because the 120Hz refresh rate is not supported on the maximum WQHD+ screen resolution.

Why can’t the Samsung Galaxy S20 do 120Hz at maximum screen resolution?

There are two possible reasons why Samsung doesn’t allow 120Hz on the Galaxy S20 at the highest resolution:

  • Performance issues – all three Samsung Galaxy S20 models are powered by the new Snapdragon 865 or (Exynos 990 in some regions), which are plenty fast, and should be fine with high frame rates when you’re scrolling through the interface or browsing the web. Samsung, however, may have concerns about game performance down the line.

  • Battery life concerns – Despite the substantial boost in responsiveness that the higher refresh rate delivers, Samsung warns that using 120Hz can lead to reduced battery life. Now imagine if you could switch to the highest resolution (3200 x 1440), which also uses more battery, and enable 120Hz at the same time.

But should you really care that the Galaxy S20 can’t run at 120Hz at full resolution? The answer is probably no. Every Galaxy S20 phone is set to 1080p out of the box and increasing the resolution is something you need to do yourself. Samsung apparently doesn’t deem this necessary, as the default FHD+ resolution is enough for the human eye on most smartphone screen sizes, even ones over 6 inches, and saves a bit of battery as well.

The high refresh rate is arguably a bigger deal than the resolution in this case, as it is what really makes the phone feel extra quick and responsive. And although Samsung says that using 120Hz will eat up more battery, we feel that offers a substantial improvement over the default 60Hz mode, and that you should definitely at least try it.

That said, Samsung may allow users to enable both WQHD+ resolution and 120Hz in a future update. Since the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra came out just now, it is possible that some features may not be fully optimized.

Samsung Galaxy S20 display specs

Samsung Galaxy S20
  • 6.2-inch Quad HD+ (3200X1440)
  • HDR10+ certified
  • 120Hz display support

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
  • 6.7-inch Quad HD+ (3200X1440)
  • HDR10+ certified
  • 120Hz display support

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • 6.9-inch Quad HD+ (3200X1440)
  • HDR10+ certified
  • 120Hz display support

Related phones

Galaxy S20
Galaxy S20+
Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G


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