Samsung’s Super High Variable Refresh Rate Screens Will Soon Come to More Smartphones, and I Can’t Wait

Samsung’s Super High Variable Refresh Rate Screens Will Soon Come to More Smartphones, and I Can’t Wait
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Following the debut of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung Display has officially announced commercial availability of its new mobile screens with support for variable refresh rates which offer both improved smoothness and lower power consumption.

While it was easy to miss some of finer details about the Note 20 Ultra’s screen (which is the first device to feature one of Samsung’s new VRR panels) amidst Samsung’s barrage of announcements last week, Samsung Display’s new tech is poised to have a major impact on smartphone development.

By combining a 120Hz refresh rate with the ability to adjust that refresh rate on the fly, Samsung Display’s new screen can better accommodate the different types of content being displayed, resulting in energy savings of up to 22 per cent compared to “existing smartphones now in general use,” without a drop in image quality.

For example, when playing a mobile game ” particularly a shooter or fighting game like Mortal Kombat where high refresh rates can make quite a difference ” Samsung’s display can push its scan rate up to 120Hz, while still being able to drop the scan rate down to 60Hz when showing a video, 30Hz while writing an email, or as little as 10Hz when viewing something like a still photo.

This is a marked difference from current phones, even ones with high refresh rates like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which typically force you to pick one refresh rate that gets locked in, regardless of what’s being shown on the screen.

However, the bigger impact of this development is that with high refresh rate displays having becoming standard features on almost all premium handsets, including the Note 20 Ultra, Pixel 4, and possibly the upcoming iPhone 12, the commercial availability of this new component means VRR displays could find their way into phones from other brands quite soon.

If we look back to when screens with high refresh rates first started to appear in phones, OnePlus was the first phone maker to put a 90Hz OLED display in a retail device (which followed the 90Hz LCD screen in the original Razer Phone), but Samsung Display was the company responsible for making the panel used in the OnePlus 7 Pro. Also, with so many desktop monitors and laptops also getting updates that include high refresh rate displays, new tech like this for the mobile world is something that should help maintain a sense of parity between the two markets.

And with both desktop and mobile gadgets moving in the same direction when it comes to high refresh rates, that gives developers even more incentive to include support for high refresh rate displays in their apps and games, which should be a win for everyone.