iPhone 12 Pro — what the heck is going on with the 120Hz display?

iPhone 12 render by PhoneArena
(Image credit: Phone Arena)

The iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro could come with a 120Hz refresh-rate display, but it might not be enabled at launch. 

That’s according to tech leaker iAppleTimes, who claims that it's been "confirmed" that the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max will come with a 120Hz display, despite rumors to the contrary. The leaker also said that the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro could  come with a 120Hz display, though it's not a guarantee. 

We’re expecting the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max to come with the A14 Bionic chip, a new design with flatter edges, and a triple rear-camera array with a LiDAR sensor added in. But there's been a question mark over whether the next-generation of high-end Apple phones will have a high refresh-rate display, which has become a common feature in premium Android phones such as the Galaxy S20 range and OnePlus 8 Pro.

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But then rumors popped up noting that only the Pro handsets would get a high refresh-rate display.  

Ross Young, a display supply chain analyst who often leaks phone information, then claimed that no iPhone 12 model will sport a 120Hz display due to a lack of display hardware for the high refresh rate. But other leakers carried on to claim that the iPhone 12 Pro would have a 120Hz screen.

Twitter user @abjornx recently found a Limit Frame Rate option in the iOS 14 beta that would limit the display to a maximum of 60Hz, suggesting that the display wil go beyond that. Young said this doesn’t mean the iPhone 12 will come with a high refresh-rate display, and that the phones won’t have an LTPO panel to allow for dynamic refresh rates.  

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But now, iAppleTimes' leak that the iPhone 12 Pro Max will at least have a 120Hz refresh rate adds further fuel to the rumor that the Pro models will have such a screen. 

Young said that adopting a 120Hz refresh rate display could delay the launch of the iPhone 12 Pro models. However, he also stood by his guns, noting that he’s heard the iPhone 12 range will launch with 60Hz displays.  

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Regular Apple leaker Jon Prosser also weighed in on the subject, tweeting that Apple should not "give up on 120Hz on Pro yet." He then added that while the iPhone 12 Pro models won't have an LTPO panel, they will have a ProMotion display like the 120Hz panel found on the iPad Pro 2020

Prosser said that there's "enough evidence" from his sources to indicate there's a good chance the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will have a 120Hz display.  

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All this is rather confusing and tricky to follow. But it would seem off for Apple to not adopt a high refresh rate in its next-generation Pro iPhones, especially since rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra feature the technology.

We’re likely to find out for sure pretty soon, as the iPhone 12 range looks set to be revealed in September. However, though the actual release of some models may be delayed for a month or so due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.