Smartphone manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to differentiate their products, whether it’s by adding more RAM, adding new camera functions, or – as we’ve seen in previous years – increasing refresh rates. While every phone had a 60Hz refresh rate not long ago, practically every flagship and many mid-range phones now have one that is higher, and those that don’t can be considered as a strike against them. But what is the refresh rate, exactly? What are the advantages of having a higher one? We’ll explain what a refresh rate is, what it accomplishes, and why you might (or might not) desire a high one on your device in the article below.
What is the refresh rate on a mobile display?
The refresh rate of your phone’s display is defined as the number of times it refreshes or updates per second, measured in Hertz (Hz). All smartphone screens have a minimum refresh rate of 60Hz, which means the screen updates 60 times per second. This is the industry standard and was once the sole refresh rate available. Smartphones with refresh rates of 90Hz, 120Hz, and even 144Hz are already available.
When the refresh rate is higher, the content appears to be smoother. You can imagine how juddery it would feel if you were scrolling through a web page or playing a game and the screen only refreshed a few times per second. Although there is no discernible judder at 60Hz, rising higher leads to a notable improvement in smoothness, especially in items with a lot of motion, such as games or swiftly scrolling menus.
Although refresh rate (the number of times the screen refreshes per second) differs from frame rate (the number of different frames or images that can be supplied to your display per second), the two can coexist. Indeed, in games, the two should ideally be in sync; you won’t receive the full benefits of a super-high frame rate if your refresh rate doesn’t match, and vice versa. Higher refresh rates, on the overall, are better, which is why so many phones are going well beyond 60Hz. There is, however, a caveat, as with nearly anything in technology. In addition, a display with a greater refresh rate will use more battery. As a result, in order to address the issue of battery consumption,
Variable refresh rate
Now that we know that having your smartphone display refresh a larger number of times per second will drain your battery faster, a solution was needed to ensure that customers receive the best of both worlds. Variable refresh rate is the name of this solution (or sometimes referred to as VRR or adaptive refresh rate). If you’re gazing at a still image or reading an ebook, for example, your display doesn’t need to refresh as frequently because nothing is changing on the screen. As a result, on some devices, the processor can automatically modify the refresh rate based on the type of material being consumed, saving battery life (since you won’t constantly be using the highest refresh rate) with no real drawbacks.
A variable refresh rate does not have to be limited to 60Hz. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, but when such highs aren’t required, the refresh rate can drop to as low as 10Hz per second. It’s worth mentioning, though, that variable refresh rates are normally only found in high-end phones at the time of writing. More cheap models are usually limited to a set refresh rate, such as 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, or higher.
Higher refresh rate guarantees a better experience?
Any display that has a refresh rate higher than 60Hz should be more user-friendly. Without a doubt, the encounter will be fluid and silky-smooth. It, like any jigsaw, requires all other pieces to come into place in order to create a better overall user experience. With a greater refresh rate, battery consumption is a major issue, but a variable refresh rate is a viable solution. A poor implementation, on the other hand, may harm the experience rather than being a useful feature. To put it another way, the phone must be able to precisely identify when the refresh rate should be increased or decreased.