iPhone 16 will miss out on the display improvement we want — here’s how long you’ll have to wait

Apple iPhone 15 held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

Hoping that the iPhone 16 will finally break free from the 60Hz refresh rate that's a staple of Apple's entry-level iPhone and offer a screen with a fast refresh rate similar to the Pro models? It's the hope that kills you.

Instead, a new report echoes something we've been hearing since last fall — that the ProMotion feature which allows the iPhone 15 Pro models to ramp their display refresh rate to 120Hz when the devices will benefit from smoother scrolling and graphics won't be added to the iPhone 16 this fall. Rather,  the Elec reports, that feature isn't going to appear until 2025's iPhone 17 release. That's when Apple's less expensive flagships will adopt OLED displays with low-power backplane technology needed for the ProMotion feature.

Fast-refreshing displays have been a staple of the iPhone Pro models since the 2021 release of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Meanwhile, Apple's other iPhones have kept a fixed refresh rate, even as variable refresh rates have spread to devices that cost less than the $799 startng price for the iPhone 15.

Currently, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus use low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) panels, meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro models use the more advanced low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) panels, and it is only the LTPO panels that can currently make use of ProMotion.

iPhone 16 Pro Concept Video Science & Knowledge

(Image credit: Science & Knowledge/YouTube)

ProMotion has several features that make it ideal for heavy smartphone use as it allows the screen to easily run at a 120Hz refresh rate which means smoother scrolling and video content when required. It is also possible for ProMotion to cut its refresh rate down to as low as 1Hz, which allows it to keep its lock screen running without draining the battery for long periods.

Apple is currently expected to continue keeping the screens different for the iPhone 16 series, but The Elec's report states that Chinese supplier BOE is aiming to supply LTPO panels for the entire iPhone 17 series, although there is some concern that they may not be able to reach the required production capacity. If that happens then Apple may turn to suppliers like Samsung and LG Display. 

This isn't the only news we have heard about the screens for the upcoming iPhone 17. According to display analyst Ross Young, the predicted change for the iPhone 16 series screen to a taller aspect ratio of 19.6:9 and this will trickle down to the iPhone 17, which could make use of the larger 6.27 to 6.86-inch screens.

There are also indications that the iPhone 17 Pro will be much slimmer as well, while the entire series is looking to be more powerful than any of their counterparts as well. 

The decision to offer uniform screen options between all models of the iPhone 17 makes sense — it would allow Apple to streamline the production process and boost quality overall. But that's of little consolation to would-be iPhone 16 buyers who had hoped that Apple finally might offer an upgrade readily available for other phones in the standard iPhone's price range.

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.