Apple, it's finally time to bring ProMotion to the masses — starting with these two products

iPad mini 6 and view of TouchID
(Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

I was never convinced about displays with higher refresh rates. I remember being amazed when I first saw the Retina display on an iPhone 4, with a screen resolution so dense your eyes can't distinguish individual pixels, such that everything almost looked like a graphic magazine at first glance. I didn’t think another display upgrade would invoke the same reaction from me again.

It wasn’t until 2021 when I saw a MacBook Pro with ProMotion, Apple’s 120Hz display, running alongside a previous generation at 60Hz in an Apple Store, that I was convinced. Everything looked buttery-smooth — from moving the mouse to scrolling through web pages and photos. ProMotion convinced me to pay over £2000 / $2100 to step up from my then-broken 2013 MacBook Air, and I’ve never looked back.

It also prompted me to buy one of the best iPhones available, as the Pro models came with ProMotion — and still do to this day. An iPhone 15 Pro Max running at 120Hz is one of the best handsets I’ve ever owned.

Of course, ProMotion goes further back — the feature first appeared in 2017 with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and has remained on that tier of the iPad line-up ever since. Seven years later, I feel like it’s time to finally see 120Hz arrive on products that don't include the 'Pro' name, just so my dream of ProMotion on iPad mini and MacBook Air models can finally be a reality.

Scrolling with Air

The 2024 MacBook Air M3 on a wooden table in front of a bookshelf.

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

I’m approaching the three-year mark of owning the MacBook Pro, and I’m starting to think about an upgrade. The battery life is starting to dwindle to three hours, and I’m also wondering if I even need a ‘Pro’ laptop at all.

This is where the 15-inch MacBook Air with M3 comes in. I love its thin design, its ‘blue’ midnight color, and the Air's recent push to larger screen sizes. The 18-hour battery life also puts it on par with how long my MacBook Pro used to last. Recently, I thought I’d go to an Apple Store to try one out, and instantly, I noticed the lower refresh rate. ProMotion isn’t available on this Mac. You may be someone who doesn’t notice it — I have a friend who can’t tell the difference between an HD and 4K image — but I am.

The absence made it a dealbreaker for me, so I’ve decided to wait until the feature trickles down. We’ve seen this happen before with other exclusive aspects of other high-end products, so I reckon the same will happen with ProMotion soon.

The trickle

The back of an iPhone 7 Plus, showing its camera system.

(Image credit: Future)

It’s not the first time that we’ve seen features appear on lower-priced models. The dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus was brought to the regular models after a few years, and Face ID went from being an exclusive feature of the iPhone X to appearing on more affordable devices after the iPhone XR in 2018.

The redesign of the iPad Pro in 2018, which reduced the bezels significantly, appeared on the iPad Air and regular iPad in 2021 — although Touch ID remained the core security feature of the cheaper devices. There’s a whole history of features coming down to Apple’s other products, as cheaper components become available as the years pass.

The name ‘ProMotion’ though, alludes to the feature being pro-exclusive. I do wonder if this was deliberate on Apple’s part so that the feature remains on Pro models only. Indeed, that’s currently the case. The feature is available on MacBook Pro, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPad Pro — there’s a pattern here.

Yet, I don’t care about this logic, because there’s one more device that would make it an instant buy for me if ProMotion came to it.

A mini promotion

iPad mini 6

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

I’ve had a complicated history with the iPad as a whole. The tablet used to be my main device for everything. Then it became a device to type up notes on, as well as a device for reading a bunch of books and comics and watching plenty of videos. Now, it’s just a YouTube device. Its software has felt confusing to me in recent years — with Stage Manager for iPad, Apple’s latest effort at multitasking on the tablet, being very frustrating to use.

Throughout all of this though, I’ve always considered the iPad mini to be the best of the bunch. It’s the best iPad for reading, and its great battery life makes it the one that I always recommend to family and friends. However, the absence of ProMotion on the tablet holds me back from declaring it the perfect iPad.

Imagine an 8.3-inch display that can show content at 120Hz just like the high-end iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. Swiping through apps, watching videos, and reading Marvel comics at a high refresh rate in bed with an iPad mini is very appealing to me. Not to mention it would fix that awful jelly scrolling issue. I can’t see it being a matter of cost for Apple anymore — it’s been seven years since ProMotion first appeared, so bringing it to other models definitely feels overdue. Again, I can’t help but feel like the name ‘ProMotion’ has given it a connotation that makes it forever trapped with the Pro models. And that’d be a shame.

Instead, the ProMotion name could be given a course-correct. For future ‘Pro’ models, the refresh rate could be 240Hz, with a ‘ProMotion 2’ moniker. For non-Pro models, ‘ProMotion’ stays, as well as the 120Hz benefit. It splits the feature up, but it’s the best of both worlds for everyone.

There are potential solutions, like the above — so let’s see 120Hz come to all the models Apple, and soon!

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.