We had been hoping the iPhone 14 would come with a 120Hz display, upgrading from the 60Hz of its predecessor and getting a screen on par with the iPhone 13 Pro, but that's not been looking likely according to recent rumors. But a half-way house upgrade could still be on the cards.
That's because leaker Shadow_leak (opens in new tab) claims that the standard iPhone 14 and the rumored new iPhone 14 Max could potentially offer a new 90Hz refresh rate display.
Now that 120Hz displays are easily achievable, 90Hz screens are less common than they used to be, although the Google Pixel 6 is a prominent phone that does use one. However, since Apple needs to differentiate its 120Hz Pro models from its basic models, 90Hz would be a smart compromise given that 60Hz displays are quickly becoming obsolete.
iPhone 14 Specifications• 6.06" Flexible OLED Screen• (2532×1170) Resolution & 460 PPI• 60Hz/90Hz Refresh Rate• A16 Bionic (4nm TSMC)• 4GB/6GB RAM• Face ID• Dual Rear Camera• Notch ✅February 21, 2022
The bad news is that, if this rumor is true, it won't be enough to beat Samsung's newly released Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus, in terms of screen tech at least. These sell for roughly the same price as an iPhone, but offer full-fat 120Hz refresh rates.
The second rumor comes from Korean outlet The Elec (opens in new tab), which reports that BOE, one of the companies that make iPhone displays, can't keep up with demand due to the continuing global chip shortage. However, hidden away in that report is a reference to BOE continuing to provide LTPS OLED displays for the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 later in 2022.
The LTPS part is what we're focusing on here. LTPS is one of two common types of OLED display, the other being LTPO. LTPO panels can offer higher refresh rates compared to LTPS ones, but where they really shine is in making those refresh rates adaptable.
Outputting a display at 120Hz all the time will quickly drain the battery on a phone, so an adaptive refresh rate drops that frequency down when it isn't needed — when you're looking at a static object or a photo, for example. LTPO displays can do this job better than LTPS, dropping to as low as 1Hz. In contrast, the best minimum refresh rate you'll find for an adaptive LTPS display is around 48Hz, as seen on the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.
If it's true, as The Elec says, that Apple isn't changing the display tech for the iPhone 14 from the iPhone 13, that could be interpreted as a sign that a 90Hz iPhone display may not come with the same adaptability as its 120Hz siblings. It could even mean it won't be upgrading the refresh rate at all. In fact, Shadow_leaks himself does suggest the non-Pro iPhones may still only have 60Hz refresh rates, or possibly that the iPhone 14 will only offer 60Hz and 90Hz pre-sets, depending on how you read the tweets.
However, while that may be the case for the base iPhone 14, we're also supposed to be getting a new 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max this year, filling the spot that used to be taken by the iPhone 13 mini. It's possible that Apple would offer a higher or more adaptable refresh rate on that phone, as a bonus for going Max — though it's equally likely that it would make it match the standard Phone 14.
In short, there remain several questions around the possible display tech in the iPhone 14 range, at least where it concerns the base models.
What we do know about the rumored new phones is that they won't be with us any time soon; they'll likely arrive in September or October this year. But though they might be a ways off, these display details are hardly the first we've heard about the new devices. For instance, other rumors have tipped Apple to drop the Face ID notch to finally replace it with a punch-hole in the display and teased a possible 48MP main camera for the Pro models.