The best iPhone 13 Pro feature isn’t working properly – but a fix is coming soon

iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

Arguably the biggest upgrade on the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the screen, which can reach a 120Hz refresh rate for the first time on an iPhone, but it’s a feature that’s not currently working in all apps.

Many third-party apps are only using a standard 60Hz refresh rate, but Apple has now explained why this is, and said that a fix is on the way.

In a comment to 9to5Mac, the company has said there are two separate issues at play here. One is a simple bug which is preventing animations built using the company’s Core Animation technology from reaching a 120Hz refresh rate, and Apple claims a software update is in the works to fix this.

The other issue is that in many cases developers will need to update their apps to specifically support a 120Hz refresh rate. It sounds like this is simple to do – it’s seemingly just a case of adding an entry in the code to opt into it, but documentation explaining how to do this is also apparently coming soon.

It’s worth noting that not all third-party apps will need to do this – standard animations and scrolling interactions should automatically support the higher refresh rate (as well as lower refresh rates, which are offered for power efficiency reasons).

So it’s only non-standard stuff, like games for example, that should need updating to support 120Hz. Otherwise, anything that’s not affected by the bug should already be there.

An iPhone 13 Pro Max on the edge of a table

The iPhone 13 Pro Max's screen is silky smooth, except when it's not (Image credit: TechRadar)

Opinion: a rocky start for an essential upgrade

Apple is years behind when it comes to offering a 120Hz refresh rate on smartphones, with Android rivals having offered the tech for a long time now.

Even now, Apple is only offering it on the top-end iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, while the likes of the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC offer the tech at a budget price. So in that sense Apple still has some catching up to do, making this rocky rollout of the tech all the more disappointing.

Bugs can’t be helped but they’re unfortunate, while the full support developers needed to offer the refresh rate, probably should have been available from day one.

Still, it sounds like Apple is rapidly working on both issues, so here’s just hoping that next year it also makes this elsewhere standard feature available across the whole range.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.