iPhone 12 leak reveals killer upgrade to fight Galaxy Note 20

(Image credit: Jonas Daehnert)

The most on-again, off-again iPhone 12 rumor appears to be back on. After some industry watchers and leakers dismissed the possibility of the iPhone 12 Pro getting a 120Hz display, a new feature in the iOS 14 beta teases that a ProMotion display may be happening after all.

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the iPhone 12's 120Hz mode would enable smoother scrolling and animations. But Apple's implementation would have a drawback compared to Samsung's tech.

The Twitter user @abjornx spotted an option to limit the frame rate on his iPhone 11 Pro within iOS 14 Beta 5, which was picked up by iAppleTimes. The Limit Frame Rate option in iOS says "Sets the maximum frame rate of the display to 60 frames per second."

Because today's iPhones are already limited to 60Hz, why would Apple include this option in iOS 14 unless it had plans to offer at least one iPhone 12 model with a 120Hz display?

As reported by PhoneArena, display analyst Ross Young has weighed in, seeming to back the idea of a 120Hz display on the iPhone 12 while also reinforcing a major caveat.

Young says that this build of iOS 14 "only allows you to choose between 60Hz and something higher (120Hz)." So the iPhone 12 would not get the adaptive refresh rate in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, whose LTPO technology allows the panel to dial the Hz up or down depending on the content that's on screen.

We've heard previous reports pointing to the ProMotion display working fine on the larger 6.7-inch Phone 12 Pro Max but having issues on the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro. But we've also heard that Apple may not include a 120Hz panel at all, with Ross Young saying in early August that there would be "no 120Hz hardware on new iPhones."

So these latest developments just confuse matters further. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn't the only phone with a 120Hz display. Other Android flagships, such as the OnePlus 8 Pro, feature a 120Hz panel, and the Asus ROG Phone 3 has an even smoother 140Hz display.

The iPhone 12 Pro models will reportedly have other features to stand out versus the regular iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max, including a telephoto lens and a LiDAR sensor for improved photography and better performance in iPhone AR apps. But a 120Hz display would go a long way towards better justifying the expected premium for the iPhone 12 Pro devices.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.