This year, Apple will release its iPhone 13 (unconfirmed) series. Although the iPhone 13 will be an improvement in almost every way over the iPhone 12 series, it will introduce a much-anticipated feature to the upcoming iPhone models: a high refresh rate display. Ross Young, a well-known display analyst, recently speculated that the upcoming iPhone “Pro” models would feature an LTPO display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Young dismissed rumors that there will be only one iPhone 13 model with an LTPO display.
Now, we’ve heard a lot about LTPO displays in the past, from the Samsung Galaxy S21 series to the OnePlus 9 series, and now there’s a claim that Apple will use an LTPO backplane on the iPhone 13 panel. So, what exactly is an LTPO? And how does it enhance the effectiveness of a smartphone’s display? Stay tuned to find out!
Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide is what LTPO stands for. It’s basically a piece of hardware that allows a smartphone’s display to have a variable high refresh rate depending on the content being displayed. LTPO panels have a more energy-efficient backplane that can switch individual pixels on and off on screens, allowing the battery to last longer. Apple developed LTPO backplane technology, which is used in the Apple Watch display (Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6) – capable of scaling the refresh rate from 60Hz to 1Hz.
So, why are companies like Samsung and OnePlus using Apple’s technology before Apple makes it available on its iPhone? This is due to the fact that these companies have modified Apple’s technology to allow them to use LTPO displays on their smartphones.
Samsung and OnePlus have developed their own display technology that resembles an LTPO but isn’t likely to result in legal action. HOP stands for Hybrid-oxide and Polycrystaline silicon, and it is a technology developed by Samsung. HOP is a hybrid that combines LTPO technology with oxide TFTs. This was first seen in the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, but Samsung has now developed LTPO panels that can reduce OLED power consumption by 16 percent in the Galaxy S21. The OnePlus 9 Pro also seems to have struck the right balance between a fast-refreshing monitor that can adapt to as low as 1Hz and as high as 120Hz.
Low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) is currently used in the construction of thin-film-transistors (TFTs) that form the backplane of many flagship smartphones’ OLED displays. Using only LTPS, on the other hand, does not allow for a dynamic refresh rate. As a result, smartphones like the OnePlus 9 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 employ additional hardware to adjust the refresh rate. The displays that claim to use LTPO backplanes are actually a mix of LTPS TFTs and Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide transistors (IGZO). As a result, a display back panel with IGZO TFTs for display driving and LTPS TFTs switch circuits is developed.
All of this adds up to a more energy-efficient monitor that can adjust the refresh rate dynamically.