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2021 iPhones could have ProMotion as well as always-on display

A supply-chain report last month raised the possibility of next year’s flagship iPhones having an always-on display, and a follow-up report suggests the same screen technology could also enable ProMotion.

Both reports point to LG offering the same type of OLED panels to the iPhone that are currently used in the Apple Watch Series 5 …

Last month’s report explained that LG would be making LTPO screens for next year’s Pro model iPhones.

LG Display will expand the production rate of its organic light emitting diode (OLED) panel factory lines dedicated to Apple, TheElec has learned […] LG Display is planning to put in low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LPTO) thin-film transistors (TFT) equipment […]

Apple is planning to apply LTPO TFT to higher-tier iPhone models launching next year. It has used the low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) TFT process so far. An oxide TFT process will be added to become LPTO TFT.

LTPO panels allow variable refresh rates. Dropping the refresh rate down to an extremely low rate means it uses a lot less power, which is what enables the always-on display on the Apple Watch Series 5.

At the other end of the scale, refresh rate could be boosted to 120Hz for ultra-responsive and smooth graphics, and that’s what today’s report in TheElec says we can expect.

Next year’s OLED panel used for iPhone 13 will be more technologically sophisticated to make compared to those used in iPhone 12.

Two out of the four models launching next year will use low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LPTO) thin-film transistors (TFT). LPTO technology is needed for the screens to reach 120Hz refresh rate. All four models will use on-cell touch screens as well.

A 120Hz display – which Apple brands as ProMotion – is one of the features which distinguishes the iPad Pro models from the iPad Air.

A couple of cautionary notes, however. First, this is not the first time we’ve heard rumors about a ProMotion display in the iPhone – the same rumors were circulating about the iPhone 12 Pro, and those of course turned out to be false. Second, while an LPTO display raises the possibility of some kind of always-on display, that doesn’t mean Apple will choose to include the feature. The Apple Watch Series 4 also has an LTPO screen, but the company chose not to enable an always-on display for that.

Image: iPhone 13 concept by EverythingApplePro

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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