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iPhone 13 leak teases big upgrades for two models

iphone 13 render
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

Both Pro models of the iPhone 13 will get 120Hz LTPO displays, killing rumors that the fast-refresh technology will only be available on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

That's according to display tech analyst Ross Young, who says that contrary to previous reports, it will be coming to both the Pro and Pro Max versions. That's good news for those who fancy the smoother operation and higher frame rates offered by the tech, but who don't want to fork out top dollar for the Pro Max.

Android handsets, including some mid-range models, have been tripping over themselves in a race to adopt screens with higher refresh rates. iPad Pro aside, Apple has so far resisted this upgrade, but there has been plenty of evidence that this will change with the iPhone 13. And now Young has claimed it will come to both Pro models.

“Heard some rumors in the industry and media that there would only be one LTPO [Low-temperature polycrystalline oxide] model from Apple later this year,” Young tweeted. “Can confirm this is not the case. Apple fans can relax!”

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While Young’s original tweet doesn’t say how many handsets will get the LTPO screen, a follow up confirmed that this would be for the Pro models only, with regular iPhones possibly following suit in 2022. 

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On one level, it isn’t surprising that both Pro models will share the feature. The key differences between Pro and Pro Max versions have generally been limited to screen size, and the extra battery life this bigger footprint allows. That said, the iPhone 12 Pro Max did get an improved camera this time around, so it wouldn’t be completely without precedent for it to get an extra trick or two. 

You can find a longer explanation of why LTPO screens are a big deal here, but the quick explainer is that they curb 120Hz screens’ power hunger by allowing devices to dynamically shift refresh rate as required. 

Static images — your photo album, or a digital clock — can run quite happily at 1Hz, so the power-hungry 120Hz mode isn’t required the whole time. Apple currently has this tech on the Apple Watch, letting the display scale from 60Hz down to 1Hz at will. 

It was rumored that Apple was considering introducing 120Hz screens for the iPhone 12 family, but decided not to in the end for battery reasons. Considering the poor battery life of the iPhone 12 family, that was probably the right call, but it appears that Apple has made sufficient strides for it to be a non-issue with the iPhone 13 Pro. Not only will the company have soft board batteries, allowing more layers without increasing the size of the cell, but it's been reported that the LTPO screens will reduce power consumption by 15 to 20%.   

The iPhone 13 is still some way off, but we’re expecting Apple to be back to its usual schedule of September events as supply chains have broadly returned to normal after 2020’s year of disruption. 

But you don’t have to wait that long for other Apple products: there’s an event later this month, at which we’re expecting to see the 2021 iPad Pro, AirTags, AirPods 3 and maybe the new Apple Silicon iMacs make their debut.