In 2019, it’s possible that you must have come across the term 90Hz in the long list of smartphone specs quite a few times. What is it? This is essentially the screen refresh rate, which enhances the overall performance of a smartphone, by making touch actions flow smoother across the display.
Brands like OnePlus, Nubia and Asus are some of them who’ve adopted this tech on their recent products. If you aren’t aware of what 90Hz refers to on a smartphone, you will probably want to read through the following piece.
This technology, after all, is expected to make its presence felt with flagship giants like Samsung and Apple later this year.
What is ‘90Hz’ All About?
This term is used to denote a screen’s refresh rate, which determines how many times in a second, the screen displays an image. Till now, most phones have been offered 60Hz refresh rate, which produces 60 frames per second. Similar to that, a 90Hz screen will deliver 90 frames per second.
In simple words, higher refresh rates result in greater image stability, offering fluid performance on the screen for the user. It makes it easier on the eyes of the user as well.
As of now, you’re mostly going to experience the difference in 90Hz screens while browsing through apps, scrolling through the phone and probably opening the apps as well. However, most industry experts believe that 90Hz will gradually become a trend, just like the notch and in-display fingerprint scanner in the next few years.
Szymon Kopec, the product lead at OnePlus India told us the company has been working on the tech for the past two years, and finally managed to crack the formula to offer a 90Hz display on an AMOLED panel.
"Few years back, it wasn’t possible to offer 90Hz on an AMOLED screen, but after working for 2 years to make it happen, we’ve finally managed to crack the formula to offer on a phone." - Szymon Kopec, Product Lead, OnePlus India to The Quint
He thinks that users will have to experience the tech to see its value, which is going to be critical for products in the premium segment.
What Does it Offer?
If you’re wondering that a 90Hz screen will only enhance your viewing experience then you’re mistaken. Upgrading refresh rates will eventually play into the hands of gamers, who will get, no motion blur, better efficiency in graphics rendering for gaming and a smooth, fluid touch and scroll experience.
From our time with the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Nubia Magic 3 and even the Asus ROG Phone, those differences have been fairly noticeable.
"This screen enables us to make the best use of HDR 10+ content, which we’re offering with Netflix. It doesn’t make a difference while viewing content." - Szymon Kopec, Product Lead, OnePlus India to The Quint
Szymon also mentioned that at least right now, you’ll get the best use case of 90Hz display tech with all major apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and even Instagram.
But for gamers, he mentions that it’s early days, and hopefully developers will quickly adopt to the change in trends, especially once the likes of Apple adopt it for its iPhones.
90Hz Display is Good, But...
Clearly, there are quite a few benefits of switching to a phone with 90Hz display. But not everything is hunky dory about using this technology, especially when it takes a big toll on the overall battery life of your phone.
Szymon agrees that using a higher refresh rate will reduce the battery life you’ll get from a single charge.
"When using a 90Hz display for apps and other stuff; the battery consumption is 40 to 50 percent higher than on 60Hz. And if an app does not support 90Hz, it will automatically switch to 60Hz." - Szymon Kopec, Product Lead, OnePlus India to The Quint
The other thing worth considering while going for a phone with 90Hz display is its price. The OnePlus 7 Pro costs Rs 48,999 for the base variant, going up to Rs 58,000 for the top model. And Faisal Kawoosa from techARC is certain that 90Hz is unlikely to become a mass-market feature.
"The experience of 90Hz would be demanded only in higher price segments as the users have already gone through the experiences offered so far through other high-spec’d devices." - Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC
Keeping this in mind, if a Samsung or Apple adopts the 90Hz display, one can expect the prices of the next Galaxy series and iPhone generation to go a notch higher.
Phones of the Future but not for All
Faisal doesn’t expect these phones to become a volume driver for phone brands, not at least for another two to three years.
"I don’t expect the sales of 90hz display smartphones going beyond 2.5 percent of the total smartphone sales for next two to three years. It will still remain niche." - Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC
This has been further vindicated by tepid sales of OnePlus 7 Pro, Asus ROG Phone and the Nubia Red Magix 3 since they’ve been available in the country.
But Szymon is confident that with people reaching out on forums and trying out phones with 90Hz screen, eventually they might find it hard to revert back to using phones with 60Hz display.
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