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Refresh Rate – Why the iPhone 13 Pro feels faster

Greg Devine


iPhone 13 Pro Sierra Blue

The new iPhone feels blazingly quick—scrolling in particular feels really smooth. You’d probably assume this is due to some new Apple processor, but that’s not the case. The secret lies in the screen.

The term ‘refresh rate’ stands for the number of times per second a display can present a new image. It’s measured in Hertz (Hz)—the standard across most devices these days is 60Hz. This has been the case for every rendition of the iPhone, up to the new 13 Pro. This model features a new adaptive refresh rate…which is just a fancy way of saying it can display an image more quickly than previous iPhones, depending on the situation.

The iPhone 13 Pro has a refresh rate of 120Hz and it’s instantly recognisable as a result. Scrolling feels super smooth and responsive and other visual features feel noticeably ‘quicker’. Once you use an older device, or if you were to put the 13 Pro in low power mode, you’re reminded of just how substantial the difference is.

iPhone 13 Pro ProMotion

iPhone 13 Pro ProMotion

So why are most screens still 60Hz? It’s still a relatively new technology. Whilst it has only just become a feature of the iPhone, some android phones and monitors have included it for a while now. The other reason is cost. Higher refresh rate displays are naturally more expensive than slower counterparts. The cheapest high refresh rate monitor at Currys is currently £170, in comparison to £90 for the cheapest standard refresh rate monitor. That’s a difference of £80, which would quickly add up if you were buying multiple monitors for the office, for example.

Buying a new monitor won’t instantly make everything feel smoother; your computer needs to be able to supply enough frames per second (fps) for the monitor to take advantage of this. This won’t be an issue in most situations, but if the software you’re using is quite graphics intensive, it won’t feel smoother if the fps is still low.

A new high refresh rate TV won’t necessarily feel smoother for the exact same reason. British TV tends to be broadcast at 25 fps so unless the content you are watching is of a higher fps, it won’t appear any different. When watching Netflix, the fps milage may vary—a lot of it is filmed at different fps, so some of your favourite shows may feel smoother to watch on a high refresh rate TV.

Ultimately, a higher refresh rate will only be useful depending on your situation. If you’re in a position where you would benefit from more Hz then certainly give it a try. The new iPhone’s buttery smoothness could then be experienced across all your displays.

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