Why ProMotion on the iPhone 13 Is a Big Deal

Smoother video rocks

Key Takeaways

  • Apple has introduced its ProMotion technology for its new lineup of iPhone 13 smartphones. 
  • The displays offer a refresh rate of up to 120Hz for smoother videos and scrolling. 
  • ProMotion could give iPhone 12 owners a reason to upgrade to the latest model.
The iPhone 13 lineup.

Apple

The new iPhone 13 models are getting a higher display refresh rate that will mean smoother performance for users, experts say. 

Apple’s ProMotion technology can accelerate the display refresh rate to 120Hz for video or drop it down to a lower rate for still images and text to conserve battery life. While it’s been available on iPads for a while, this marks the first time Apple has brought ProMotion to the iPhone. 

"Higher refresh rates offer a much better user experience," tech blogger Patrick Sinclair told Lifewire in an email interview. "There's a palpable difference between the standard 60hz and a 120hz screen."

Faster refresh displays are much smoother and more responsive to your touch, Sinclair said.

"High refresh rates also greatly benefit gamers, allowing faster reaction to their inputs, giving them a competitive advantage in shooters, for example," he added. 

Faster Is Better

To understand why ProMotion is an improvement, it helps to understand how screens work. All displays constantly change the pixels they display to create the appearance of motion.

The refresh rate, measured in Hertz (Hz), tells you how many times the image on a screen can be changed or "refreshed" per second. Most TVs and older phones have a 60Hz refresh rate. 

The iPhone 13 Pro and other high-end smartphones can refresh their screens at a blazing 120Hz. 

"Games and videos appear less choppy and blurry, giving the user smooth gameplay and viewing they’d find on professional high-end monitors and screens," tech blogger June Escalada told Lifewire in an email interview. 

One thing of note about ProMotion is that the refresh rate is adaptive, so it lowers according to what's currently happening on the screen in an attempt to save battery. 

"This is tech we've seen before on other phones, but in most other phones, there's always a little stutter whenever the refresh rate amps back up during a sudden scroll, for instance," Sinclair said. "I look forward to seeing how Apple addresses this because they always put a lot of care into their animations, and I don't think they'd allow such a stutter to rear its head on their devices."

"There's a palpable difference between the standard 60hz and a 120hz screen."

Taking on the Competition 

The addition of ProMotion means that the iPhone 13 joins the growing number of smartphones that have high refresh rates. 

As in many new features Apple implements, the company is a bit late to the party with ProMotion, Sinclair noted. Other phones have been doing high refresh rate screens for a couple of years now, and the technology is becoming more and more accessible as the feature arrives on cheaper phones. 

Samsung recently added higher refresh rates to their folding phones and their Galaxy S series, and some budget lines such as their Galaxy A series. 

The company OnePlus also uses higher refresh screens on all their phones dating back to the OnePlus 8 and their budget Nord line. 

ProMotion could give iPhone 12 owners a reason to upgrade to the latest model. 

"Apple's ProMotion will finally bring all these benefits to the iPhone experience," Sinclair said. "You'll get to see that iPad Pro feel in your pocket-sized devices." 

ProMotion on the iPhone 13 as demonstrated in a video game.

Apple

I’ve been using ProMotion on my 12.9 inch iPad Pro, and it makes a huge difference. In my experience, doing everything from scrolling through websites to watching videos is much smoother and more pleasant. 

Now that I’ve gotten used to ProMotion, it’s hard to use a device that lacks this feature. The display on my iPhone 12 Pro Max seems sluggish and dull in comparison. 

I haven’t gotten my hands on the new iPhone 13, but I can’t wait to see how Apple implements ProMotion on this device. It will be interesting to see if battery life takes a hit with the higher refresh rate. If all goes well, the iPhone 13 could be a serious contender for watching movies on the go.

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