iPhone 12 Pro with a 120Hz display? Don't hold your breath

iPhone 12
(Image credit: PhoneArena)

The iPhone 12 Pro may not get the long-awaited upgrade to its display refresh rate we had been hoping for, according to a new series of leaks.

EverythingApplePro, who sourced his exclusive information from reliable leaker Max Weinbach, claims that Apple has been having trouble getting its ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate technology to work on its upcoming iPhones.

This bad news was further confirmed by display analyst Ross Young, who claimed that "none of [his] contacts could corroborate iPhone 12 Pro models as 120Hz." As such, Young has removed the iPhone 12 Pro series from his list of expected 120Hz smartphones.

We were expecting Apple's 120Hz tech on two of the four iPhone 12 models: the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But while the Pro Max's display has passed five out of five hardware tests, Weinbach's source claims that the smaller Pro has only passed four out of five tests. 

The difference in size is to blame here, as the iPhone 12 Pro's 6.1-inch frame means the 120Hz-compatible panel has to use a more condensed design from the one used on the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. That could make it very difficult to fit a 120Hz display into the smaller Pro model. 

Fixing the problem is possible, but it will cost Apple quite a lot of money, the source continued. So while it's still possible we'll see a 120Hz 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, it's not a certainty. 

Apple may decide to stagger the releases of the phones to allow it the extra time to make adjustments. Alternatively, it could just abandon the idea and leave ProMotion as an iPhone 12 Pro Max-exclusive feature. There's also the option of scrapping both 120Hz displays, but given the increasing frequency of rival 120Hz phones, this probably isn't a good idea for Apple.

If you're not familiar with ProMotion, you can see a real-life example of it in the form of the iPad Pro 2020, or on many Android smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 series or the OnePlus 8 Pro. It makes scrolling through apps, webpages and social media feeds look super smooth, and enhances the look of video content, in some cases even if the video isn't set at 120Hz itself.

EverythingApplePro also revealed that the iPhone 12 series' cameras will be capable of recording 4K video at 120fps or 240fps. This is another leak from Weinbach, who found evidence of this videography upgrade within the beta for iOS 14, Apple's upcoming iPhone operating system that will come pre-installed on the iPhone 12 series.

Even if we don't see 120Hz displays on the iPhone 12 Pro, users will still be able to enjoy a screen upgrade. That's because Apple's giving the whole iPhone 12 range OLED displays, after offering a mix of OLED and LCD options for the iPhone 11 series and 2018 iPhone XS/iPhone XR lineup. The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are also expected to offer 10-bit color support.

You can also expect 5G capabilities and a new flat-sided design on all iPhone 12 modes. The Pro models should get a trio of rear cameras, with the iPhone 12 Max set to sport a LiDAR depth sensor for improved photo effects and AR app interactions. 

These are just rumors for now, though. We'll likely find out for certain what the iPhone 12 has to offer this September, the month that Apple has unveiled the latest flagship iPhones for the past several years. But the event could be pushed back now that we hear that production has been delayed 1 to 2 months, according to a new report.

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.