ProMotion and always-on display again suggested for iPhone


A third supply chain report says Apple plans to use LTPO displays for this year’s iPhone Pro models, which could enable ProMotion and an always-on display.

Two previous reports have suggested that Apple is considering taking the type of OLED panels used in the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 and making them part of this year’s flagship iPhones.

All iPhone 12 models have OLED displays, and that won’t change in this year’s models. But what may the change is the type of OLEDs used – specifically, the adoption of low temperature polycrystalline oxide (LPTO) panels, which allow variable refresh rates. This opens up two possibilities.

First of all, the refresh rate can be increased to improve the responsiveness of the screen. This is what Apple is doing on the iPad Pro, using 120Hz refresh cycles under the marketing name ProMotion. This is more beneficial when using Apple Pencil, but it also allows smoother and faster action in games, as well as smoother scrolling.

Second, the opposite can be done: reduce the refresh rate when little is changing on the screen. This reduces energy consumption. Apple does this on the Apple Watch Series 5 to enable always-on display without affecting battery life. (The same display technology is used in Series 4, but Apple did not choose to enable the feature for it.)

Previous reports have indicated that LG is making LTPO panels for this year’s iPhones, but today TheElec report indicates that Samsung will be the sole supplier for 2021.

Samsung Display will be Apple’s sole supplier for the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels used in the top two models of its upcoming iPhone, TheElec has learned.

Both iPhone 13 models will use low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistor (TFT) OLED panels made by Samsung Display.

Apple’s iPhone 13 will have four models and all will use OLED panels. The top two models will use LTPO OLED which can support 120Hz refresh rate.

LG is still expected to provide LTPO displays for future iPhones, but only from 2022. Samsung currently has the edge over the technology as it has already used it in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

The report suggests another change next year: It states that while LTPO will be reserved for Pro models this year, Apple hopes to expand the technology to all models next year.

A few caveats are in order. First, the source for all three LTPO reports is the same. Second, while LTPO displays make always-on displays convenient, that doesn’t mean Apple will choose to implement the feature. Rather, the company may decide to reduce the battery capacity in order to make the phones thinner.

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