What is refresh rate in smartphones?

Girl playing game on smartphone

Now a days we often hear from the smartphone manufacturers making some bold claims about their phone’s display refresh rates. Samsung, OnePlus and Razer are all bragging about their awesome and smooth displays. Have you ever wondered what does 120Hz refresh rate means? Well we will help you in understanding this terminology.

When you watch a video on your smartphone do you know what is happening in the background? Well, the phone is showing you a sequence of still shots which are played consecutively but very rapidly. A display refresh rate is actually the rate at which it refreshes to show you the next still shot.

Smartphone displays are not static as every pixel updates itself constantly to display the latest content from your phone’s processor. That is why the content on your phone appears smooth. The panels update their content regularly which is known as refresh rate.

Refresh Rate in smartphones

Refresh rate actually measures at how much pace your phone’s display is updated. In simpler words we can say how often and rapidly the content on your screen refreshes. Refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and it counts the number of times the display is fully refreshed every second. A 60Hz display will refresh 60 times per second and a 120Hz display refreshed 120 times per second. Faster update times means there is lower latency as the pixels are being refreshed more. For example, a 60Hz display will be fully refreshed in 16.6ms, a 90Hz display in 11.1ms and a 120Hz in just 8.3ms. One thing should be noted here that refresh rate is not the only factor in the display latency but it is the main factor without any doubt.

Higher refresh rate makes the moving objects looks smooth. Although this is not the only factor to look for in selecting a smartphone but it comes in handy in fast motion content like a video or in gaming.

90Hz and 120Hz displays are important aspects in the modern smartphones. Refresh rate is considered as a small part in the display specifications as there are other factors as well which will impact the quality of your phone’s display like color gamut, white point, color temperature and contrast. But higher refresh rates are becoming increasingly important factor in the modern mobile industry.

If you are looking for smartphones with higher refresh rates then here are some of the best phones.

  • Asus Rog Phone 5 – 144Hz display
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 series – 120Hz display
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro – 120Hz display
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 – 120Hz display
  • OnePlus 9 series – 120Hz display
  • OnePlus Nord CE – 90Hz display
  • Google Pixel 5 – 90Hz display

Touch Response Rate:

You will sometimes see 120Hz or 240Hz touch screen response rate mentioned in ads or in the phone specs sheets. Many people confuse it with the refresh rate as the measuring unit is same but it is not the same thing at all.

Touch response rate determines how sensitive and accurate the touch sensitive part of touchscreen is  and it means how quickly and accurately your phone responds to any gestures on input from your fingers. So it is possible to have a phone with 120Hz display powered with 240Hz touch response.

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