iPhone 13 could have a big feature we originally expected on the iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro (Image credit: Future)

While the iPhone 12 series brought the biggest screen upgrades we've seen in an iPhone for a few years, rumors that the displays would have 120Hz refresh rates turned out to be wrong. Now, we're hearing that same rumor about the iPhone 13.

This news comes from Korean news site The Elec, which is known for publishing reports on the manufacturing aspects of consumer tech. A new report tells us about who's making the iPhone 13 series screens, and there's some interesting information contained within.

Apparently, two of the four iPhone 13 models will use LPTO tech in the screens, which is necessary for a display reaching a 120Hz refresh rate. This makes it seem like two of the devices - perhaps the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max - will have such screens.

A refreshing change

A screen refresh rate refers to how many times per second a screen updates - the 'standard' for phones is 60Hz or 60 times per second, and that's what all iPhones so far have used. 

However, if you bump that up to 90Hz, 120Hz or even 144Hz, as many modern phones do, the screen refreshes more frequently. This can make motion seem smoother and navigation snappier, though it's not a useful feature to all, as some have trouble noticing this at all. In addition, higher refresh rates can take a big toll on battery life.

Since iPhones have a reputation of poorer battery life than some other phones, we'd imagine that latter reason is why Apple didn't implement a 120Hz refresh rate on the iPhone 12 range. Perhaps if Apple improves the battery size on the iPhone 13 range it can offset this issue.

It's also possible Apple skipped a 120Hz display due to the lack of uses beyond smoother motion. On a PC you might pick up such a monitor to improve a gaming experience, but since most popular mobile games titles and movie streaming apps don't support 120Hz refresh rates just yet, you don't reap many of the benefits on your phone. If that changes, perhaps Apple's stance will change.

We heard plenty of iPhone 12 rumors that pointed to a higher-refresh-rate screen that never came about, so it's easy to view this iPhone 13 news critically too. But with almost all phones now participating in the race to provide higher and higher refresh rates to users, Apple can only hold out so long before it joins.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.