Smartphone Display Refresh Rates – What does 90hz & 120Hz mean?


Refresh Rate and Frames per second. 60 Hz, 90 Hz, 120 Hz. Smartphones sell you these buzz words and emphasize how great of a screen you can get. But what exactly do they mean? Do you really need a screen of a higher refresh rate? Also, how much refresh rate is too much or too little?
In this article, we are going to talk all about the almighty refresh rate. Let’s start with what it is

What is a refresh rate of a screen?

To put things simply, refresh rate, as the name suggests, refers to how many times your screen refreshes. It is the number of images your screen can show in a single second. Even for still and static images too, they are constantly refreshed. This is done for enhancing the quality and clarity of the image.

The refresh rate is measured in HZ (stands for hertz). Most of the standard smartphones come with a 60 Hz refresh rate. This means that if your smartphone will refresh a single static image 60 times every second.

A mobile’s display refresh rates need not be better if they are higher. For example, if your
display has a 60 Hz refresh rate, it will have a smoother response but it would not have better and snappier animation than a 120 Hz refresh rate which has a better fluidity to it.

Difference between FPS and Refresh Rate

When we talk about refresh rate and images per second on a screen, another important concept pops up.

FPS is totally different from the refresh rate. While Refresh rate refers to the number of times an image is reloaded, FPS is the count of how many frames are used on the display every single second.

FPS is more about the content that runs on the screen than the display. The refresh rate is
device-specific whereas FPS is content-specific. For more clarity, understand it like this, old
movies have lower FPS and thus they have less picture quality even when played on
high-quality modern-day screens. The same is true for smartphones as well.

If a video is shot in a 60 Frames per second quality and your display has a refresh rate of 60 Hz, then your phone would be able to display everything without any wear or tear. But if your video is 90 FPS and you just have a 60 FPS, your phone would switch the quality, maybe duplicate a few frames and display it.

Importance of Refresh Rate in a smartphone

Refresh Rate does a lot more than you think to a smartphone. It improves the overall feel and the performance of a device’s screen.

For instance, if you switch from an OnePlus 6T phone to an OnePlue 7 Pro phone, you are
immediately switching from a 60-hertz screen to a 90 hertz one. This is easily understandable with the ultrasmooth video and the animation versatility that you get from it.

Another key factor to consider is your operating system’s ability to run the high powered
screens. In the same line, you can look at OnePlus 8’s screen, which has an incredibly high 120 Hertz refresh rate. This is as high as some high ranged gaming monitors as well.
So if you were to buy a high Hertz screen, what would you be expecting? Well, it’s simple, such phones will give you a better screen to user experience ratio. Also, as mentioned before, the OS and the overall specs of the phone also play a very important role.

What is a Touch Response rate?

Most of the time, we come across mobiles that are marketed with screens that have a touch response rate of as high as 120 Hz or maybe even 240 Hz. But in reality, this is isn’t the same as the measurement of the screen’s refresh rate.

The touch response rate is more about the measure of the touch sensitivity of the mobile screen that it is about the overall screen’s responsiveness. This means that when you move your fingers across the display, it is the rate at which they respond.

Thus, you might have a 120 Hz touch response but the screen might actually have a simple 60 or 90 Hz only. Of course, higher is better, but it has to be complemented with the type of actual refresh rate that you have.

Gaming and Refresh Rates

A higher refresh rate gives you a better screen time experience. More images can be loaded per second than before.

This is particularly more evident when you are playing a video game. Battle royale games such as Call of Duty or PubG demand faster refresh rates to cater to the faster gameplay. You would need the game to push on faster and here, you need the phone to keep up with the system’s graphics, the internet speed, and of course, the timely movement of the frame.

Another instance you can see the effects of Refresh Rates in action are high adrenaline racing games. Let’s take Asphalt for instance. The game demands faster speeds of movement of frames and here, you can also see touch response rate at action too.

Games such as Asphalt need heavy artillery. This includes higher memory to run them, better and tear-free graphics, and of course, higher refresh rate which caters to the faster on-screen movement.

Which Refresh Rate is good for me?

Higher the video quality and lower the screen refresh rate, you might lose some pixels and
sometimes it may also cause lag and also tear in the video streaming.

This is why fast and battle royale gamers prefer a screen with a better refresh rate because
video game comes with a comparatively higher FPS video quality than most videos. The video is dynamic in nature. This means that it constantly moves about and thus needs to be refreshed better. Any lag or tear would result in you losing the game.

Bottom Line:

Some of the top in the line mobiles are coming up with their own 120 Hz refresh rate displays. Leading the competition is of course, OnePlus and following that is Samsung. With more and more brands coming up with models of their own, it is a competition of which device can actually handle the promised refresh rate than the others.

Which mobile do you think can or has done more justice to a higher refresh screen rate to a mobile? Do let us know in the comments section below.


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