The iPhone 15 Pro is Apple’s latest and biggest launch of 2023. It comes packed with various outstanding and innovative features, with one of them being the display. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max come with a Super Retina XDR display with a resolution of 2556 x 1179 pixels at 460 pixels per inch.
They also have a refresh rate of 120hz for smooth scrolling. The display also supports other features like HDR 10 and Dolby Vision certifications. The Ceramic shield on the front protects all of this. Apple claims this is the toughest glass ever used on a smartphone.
iPhone 15 Pro/Max Display Refresh Rate is Stuck at 80Hz
However, recently, a discussion has flared in the tech community regarding the iPhone 15 Pro/Max displays. People say the display runs only at 80hz most of the time instead of 120hz. This discussion started when famous tipster Ice Universe posted on X that his iPhone 15 Pro runs on 80hz most of the time and runs 120hz only in specific apps. This revelation has shocked many users and raised the question of the device’s true performance capabilities.
However, this is not the first time such an incident happened with iPhones with a ProMotion display. To prove this theory, there’s an old test conducted by a YouTuber “Golden Reviewer.” In the test, the person scrolls through the settings app on their iPhone 13 Pro Max, which has noticeable frame drops. But when they switched to a YouTube video, the phone maintained 60 fps constantly. This experiment demonstrated that the iPhone’s ProMotion display adjusts its refresh rate to particular apps.
In addition, another user conducted a side-by-side experiment with a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which has a 120hz display and an iPhone 14 Pro Max. In the experiment, the user immediately noticed a major difference in the scrolling performance of both phones.
According to the user, the Android phone delivered a butter-smooth experience. However, the iPhone felt jittery and inconsistent due to it potentially running at 80-90hz. This issue isn’t limited to any specific app. Another user noticed even the system UI was less smooth on the iPhone.
Is the iPhone 15 Pro/Max stuck at 80Hz a bug?
Before we conclude that the iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max display is stuck at 80hz, we must understand that Apple’s take on the High refresh rate differs from its Android competitors. For most tasks, every iPhone with a ProMotion display locks the refresh rate at 80hz.
This is likely a planned optimization trick done by Apple to save battery. We don’t think it’s a bug, and there’s little chance that Apple will let the display run at 120Hz full-time since that’s counter-productive for battery life.
Since the scrolling speeds of iOS are generally slower than their Android counterparts, 80Hz is enough for scrolling. iOS animations render Gaussian Blur and have a moving wallpaper effect, and these visuals look better if the animation is slower, not faster.
For preserving the aesthetics, Apple is limiting the animations to around 80Hz. This is still noticeably ahead of the 60Hz animations on the base models, and it’s much more fluid. However, it doesn’t take full advantage of the display capabilities.
What is the reason for restricting to 80Hz?
Apple is apparently trying to balance the fluidity of the display while maintaining a reasonable power efficiency. Considering that many won’t notice, Apple is limiting the refresh rate to improve the battery life of iPhones.
Using third-party apps and scrolling through system apps doesn’t require the full 120Hz. Hence, it limits the device to 80Hz to preserve the battery. In Apple’s view, only games need the full 120Hz. If an app requires 120Hz, the system is obviously capable of it. If you open a game with 120 FPS support, the display will run at an ultra-fluid 120Hz.
This approach to high refresh rates is controversial, but it is a fact that very few notice or care. This is why Apple can get away with it since there’s one major benefit to all. iPhones get slightly better battery life without compromising too much on the overall fluidity of the device.
Apple’s so-called “Pro Motion” displays cycle between many refresh rates. It goes as low as 1Hz during AOD; it drops to 24, 25, or 30Hz when playing most videos. It can also hit 20Hz (with an 8ms latency), 80Hz (with a 12ms latency), and so on. Since Apple uses LTPO technology for 120Hz, this strikes a decent balance between display smoothness and battery consumption.