iPhone 12 Pro leak reveals there’s a 'silver lining' to bad display news

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

First, the iPhone 12 Pro was going to have a 120Hz display. Then it wasn't. Now though, there looks to be potentially good news.

Ice Universe, one of the most reliable leakers around, has thrown iPhone rumor followers a curveball by claiming there's a potential "silver lining" to these rumors. However, it'll only be confirmed at Apple's press conference.

If you're not familiar with what 120Hz refers to, it means that a device's display refreshes its image 120 times a second. The average display, such as the iPhone 11, refreshes just 60 times a second. With 120Hz, scrolling on the web, playing 120Hz-friendly games and watching videos that support high frame rates feel a lot smoother. It's hard to go back to 60Hz once you've felt the difference.

IU went into a little more detail in a reply to their first tweet, saying that the reason for this long-standing back and forth is two different sources in Apple. The one located in the production line is apparently the one giving out bad news, while Ice Universe seems to have heard a contradictory rumor from another part of Apple's operation.

The bad news referred to here is likely the recent claim by Front Page Tech's Jon Prosser that the 120Hz display that had been rumored earlier for the two iPhone 12 Pro models hadn't made it to production.

Apple's ProMotion tech, its name for 120Hz refresh rate displays, can already be found on the iPad Pro, but fitting the same tech into a smartphone rather than a tablet has apparently been trickier than anticipated. It was rumored at one point that only the largest 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max would get ProMotion, but it's been increasingly rumored that there won't any 120Hz iPhones this year.

120Hz becoming standard on Android flagships

This is particularly unfortunate given how ubiquitous 120Hz displays are on Android flagships. Phone such as Samsung's Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Note 20 series, the OnePlus 8 Pro and others have adopted the new standard, with some phones like the Google Pixel 4 or Huawei P40 Pro sticking with a lower but still respectable 90Hz, and others like the Asus ROG Phone 3 going as high as 144Hz.

But what precisely does Ice Universe's tweet mean when it refers to a silver lining? It could mean that Apple is going to release a 120Hz iPhone soon, perhaps built in a different location to where Prosser's leaks came from and launching early next year as an "iPhone 12s" model. Perhaps it means that there's some other cool feature Apple has planned for the iPhone 12's display, like the rumored 10-bit color depth, or an ultrawide viewing angle or anti-glare coating like the Pro Display XDR has.

It sounds like we'll have to wait for the announcement to find out, unless an enterprising leaker manages to get to the bottom of things first. While Apple is holding an event on September 15, we're expecting that to center on the Apple Watch 6 and the iPad Air 4. There have been suggestions we'll see some iPhone-related news, but the full reveal will happen at a later date.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.