iPhone 13 Pro leak just confirmed a killer upgrade to fight Samsung Galaxy S21

iPhone 12 Pro Max review
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max may be getting rave reviews, but one thing missing from Apple’s latest Pro phones is a ProMotion display with a high refresh rate similar to flagships from Samsung and OnePlus. That sounds like it’s going to change with the iPhone 13.

A report in The Elec spotted by PhoneArena claims that LG will increase the amount of OLED panels it supplies to Apple, with an eye toward to next year’s iPhone lineup. So why is that big news? Because LG is increasing production of low-temperature polycrystalline oxide, or LTPO, panels, which are used in displays with high refresh rates.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features an LTPO display, using that technology to dynamically adjust the screen’s refresh rate to reflect what you’re doing with the phone. If you’re scrolling or playing a game, the Note 20 Ultra will use its maximum 120Hz refresh rate; other times, it will slow down the refresh rate if you’re doing something that doesn’t benefit from the faster speed, such as looking at still images. In that way, the screen’s refresh rate doesn’t consume as much battery.

The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 will likely adopt the same LTPO technology, so you can expect the same 120Hz refresh rate.

It’s a feature Apple would love to add to its iPhone lineup, and the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max were rumored to be getting that capability this fall. That didn’t happen, largely because there weren’t enough LTPO displays available for the number of phones Apple hopes to sell and the company reportedly didn't want to sacrifice battery life on its new devices.

From this news, it certainly sounds as though Apple plans to use LTPO-based OLED screens on next year’s phones. And even if the refresh rate doesn’t reach 120Hz, Apple adding LTPO screens with quality adaptive high refresh rates may very well be the next best thing.

LTPO panels end up consuming less energy than LTPS screens Apple currently uses. This would inadvertently end up offering better battery life since both 5G and 120Hz are different types of drains on the first place — a big part of why Apple ultimately didn’t pursue the feature for this year’s models.

iPhone 13 rumors are just revving up with an initial leak suggesting an early  iPhone 13 prototype was a lot like the iPhone 12 but “with extra steps.” That prototype reportedly had no in-screen Touch ID, though Apple could add the feature to the side power button like it did with the iPad Air 4. Additional rumors suggest the iPhone 13 notch could be smaller of disappear entirely.

Of course, there's still plenty of time between now and when a potential iPhone 13 release could finally happen next fall. The iPhone 12 lineup just debuted, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini only arriving in stores this Friday (Nov. 13). There's still quite a bit of time left before the iPhone 13 even becomes a twinkle in Apple's eye. 

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.