Apple has a new patent for displays with variable refresh rates

Iphone 12 Pro Mask Unlock Hero
Iphone 12 Pro Mask Unlock Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has won a new patent related to displays that offer a variable refresh rate..
  • The displays could run at up to four times their native refresh rate.

Apple has been granted a new patent that relates to technology that could bring a variable refresh rate to iPhones in the future. The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, could see a display with a refresh rate of up to 240Hz in the future.

According to Patently Apple, the patent would allow for a display with a given native refresh rate to function at a higher one for a given amount of time.

The native refresh rate may be 120 Hz and the high refresh rate may be 240 Hz, as one example. The native refresh rate may be 60 Hz and the high refresh rate may be 120 Hz, 180 Hz, or 240 Hz, as another example.

The device likely to take advantage of such a patent is some sort of iPhone. But it could likely be applied to iPads and other devices including the unannounced AR/VR headset.

Apple was rumored to be bringing a 120Hz ProMotion display to the iPhone 12 lineup last year and that ultimately didn't happen. The same feature is now being rumored for launch as part of the iPhone 13 lineup later this year, too.

A higher refresh rate will allow on-screen text and assets to move with a newfound fluidity and it's something that many Android devices have been offering in recent years. If Apple does bring ProMotion to iPhone it's likely to only be available on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro models, however.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.