iPhone 13 leak just confirmed killer upgrade to fight Galaxy S21

iPhone 13 concept
(Image credit: Ben Geskin/Smazizg)

As good as the iPhone 12 series is, it lacks one feature that the top Android phones have had for a while. But it looks like the iPhone 13 will address that weakness on the most premium models.

According to a report by ET News (via wccftech), Apple will offer a 120Hz OLED panel for the “top two among the four iPhone 13 models,” which will likely be the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. The higher refresh rate allows for smoother scrolling as well as better movie playback and gameplay in supported content.

These dynamic panels should also help the higher-end iPhone 13 models save on battery life.

By employing LTPO (Low Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide) technology, the 120Hz iPhone 13 Pros will be able to dynamically adjust their refresh rate from 120Hz all the way down to 1Hz. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra already has a 120Hz LTPO display, and the tech should also appear on at least one Samsung Galaxy S21 model. 

There had been rumors that Apple would adopt a 120Hz ProMotion display for the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max, but that never came to be. Apple was reportedly waiting for more LTPO panels to become available in order to deliver a better balance of performance and battery life.

As reported by ET News, “It is understood that Apple decided to introduce LTPO-TFT to offset the increase in power consumption caused by the improvement of the refresh rate, and the display performance improvement of the next iPhone is expected to be noticeable.”

In our own iPhone 12 battery testing, Apple's most recent lineup did not fare all that well, especially with 5G turned on, so the addition of LTPO on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max should help. Plus, Apple will reportedly offer a more efficient 5nm Qualcomm X60 modem for the iPhone 13 family.

Both Samsung and LG are said to supply the OLED displays for the iPhone 13 lineup. It appears that the sizes will be the same this time around: the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini and 6.1-inch iPhone 13 will both get more traditional 60Hz LTPS panels, while the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max will reportedly step up to 120Hz LTPO OLED screens.

The only bad news from this ET News report is that there could be “an increase in supply price.” But, it’s not clear whether Apple will pass that increase on to shoppers or not. 

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.