Will Samsung Galaxy S20 feature a 120Hz display?

Rumor has it that Samsung’s next Galaxy flagship will be called S20 instead of S11, which might be related to the year 2020. The new smartphone will have a bunch of changes, and for those who are interested in smoother user experience, Galaxy S20’s jump to 120Hz in display refresh rate is not negligible. Actually, Samsung has had the ability to manufacture such high refresh rate displays, it’s just the first time it has applied them in their flagship smartphones. Early in last November, according to some sensible leakers, the 120Hz display mode was found in a beta version of Note 9’s One UI software. Although Note 9 just has a 60Hz display, that setting indicates that Samsung’s future handsets are likely to feature a 120Hz display.

So what is refresh rate? Is it really that important? In a word, the refresh rate, measured by Hz, is the count of how many times the screen refreshes its image in one second. When you are viewing an image, whether static or dynamic, what you see is actually the result of your handset pushing frames (the same frame if it is a static image) in one second. Most smartphones have a 60Hz display, and because its benefits in making motion and scrolling appear much smoother in a phone screen, manufacturers are increasingly putting more emphasis on producing higher refresh displays. 

Speaking of faster scrolling on screen, another term worth mentioning is frame rate which is measured by FPS (Frames Per Second). Different from the refresh rate, the frame rate refers to the number of times frames are being pushed to the display every second. That is to say, the former is related to image, and the latter lays more stress on video and game. If you play games or watch videos at 90fps and 90Hz, you will probably have rather smoother graphics. And if you feed 60fps content to a 90Hz screen, the display will either switch to 60Hz or duplicate some frames.

Although a high refresh rate means smoother motion with less friction, we need to know that every swords have two sides: the big drawback of a 90Hz/120Hz display is it takes up more battery. What’s more, it’s not quite as simple as just slapping a really fast screen into any device. When in use, all those refresh cycles have to tell the device what should be on the screen. If you are doing something static like reading an article in the Kindle app, the phone will be adjusted to dozens of Hz (20Hz, say); if you are playing large games, your hardware may sometimes too weak to turn up the refresh rate, leading to stuttering or even freezing. The screen can only redraw the image as quickly as the hardware and software inside can tell it what to display.

Nonetheless, it is still promising to see smartphones with a higher refresh rate in the future. For now, we have Asus ROG phone 2, the first phone with a 120Hz AMOLED display as well as Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset. OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro all stand out in making a high refresh display rate. The gaming phone Nubia Red Magic 3 bolsters a 90Hz AMOLED screen. While for the giants Apple and Google, iPhone XS/XS Max/XR are all equipped with a 120Hz display, and Google Pixel 4 displays also support a 90Hz refresh rate. With that in mind, it is no wonder Samsung is planning a higher refresh rate smartphone in the near future.

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