We hear more and more about screens at 60 Hz, 90 Hz, and 120 Hz, but what is the refresh rate and how does it affect the fluidity with which the images flow?
Most smartphones today offer a screen refresh rate above 60Hz. This is a feature much advertised by the various manufacturers who seek in this way to differentiate their products.
We are not just talking about top-of-the-range smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S22 and Find X5 Pro, or low-mid-range smartphones such as Redmi Note 11 Pro and Galaxy A33 5G but also monitors, TVs, and laptops. In short, it is a fact that can be attributed to any device with a screen.
What Is The Refresh Rate?
The refresh rate indicates the number of times per second that the screen updates the frames shown. The displays are not static, they show images in continuous motion (think of a film or even just scrolling through a web page).
The contents appear fluid on the screen as each pixel updates to recompose exactly that image. The update occurs at regular intervals: this interval is the update rate, i.e. the speed at which the display updates.
The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz).
A 60 Hz display updates 60 times per second, a 90 Hz display updates 90 times per second, a 120 Hz display updates 120 times per second, and so on.
So, the higher the refresh rate the faster the update will be: a 120Hz display refreshes twice as fast as a 60Hz one.
What Is The Update Time?
Update times, on the other hand, are measured in milliseconds (ms). In fact, the screen does not update the pixels at the same time, but it does update one line of pixels at a time (generally from top to bottom).
To complete a full cycle takes a certain amount of time. For example, it takes 16.6ms to fully refresh a 60Hz display, 11.1ms for a 90Hz display, and just 8.3ms for a 120Hz refresh rate display.
Advantages Of The Refresh Rate
The real benefit of a high refresh rate is the smoothness with which images scroll across the screen. The more the refresh rate increases, the more the latency decreases resulting in a smoother display.
The difference between a 60 Hz and a 90 Hz screen may be imperceptible to the human eye, but if you try to place two phones with different refresh rates next to each other you will notice a greater speed – for example – in scrolling some pages or in video game scenes on the one characterized by a higher refresh rate.
Faster displays really make a difference, especially in gaming, where a later response could make the player lose the moment and not hit the target.
This is why devices designed for gaming – such as the ROG Phone 6 Pro smartphone or the ASUS ROG Flow X16 laptop – adopt screens with very high refresh rates.
It is clear that for the display to be that fast, it must be assisted by all adequate hardware components – such as CPU and GPU – capable of quickly providing a sufficient number of frames.
At this point, it is good to make a clarification.
Each content of high and low refresh rates devices is made up of a certain number of frames per second (fps).
In practice, even when we record a video with our smartphone, the camera does nothing but record a defined number of frames per second which will then be reproduced on the screen.
So, if we record a video at 24 fps and the smartphone display is at 90 Hz, we will not benefit from it.
For this reason, some devices integrate adaptive technology that actually adapts the refresh rate of the screen to the content we are viewing. Doing so, there will also be a benefit from the point of view of energy efficiency.
Disadvantages Of The Refresh Rate
Now, the real disadvantage is precisely the energy required by a high refresh rate.
A 120Hz refresh rate requires more power than 90Hz and 60Hz.
One of the trade-offs to accept is the reduction of the device’s battery life.
In any case, we must not despair because, not only in some cases we can decide the update speed we want, but the manufacturers have developed a series of software and hardware solutions that allow you to better manage energy consumption and ensure that the autonomy lasts at least one day.
Finally, we specify that a high refresh rate is not necessarily synonymous with the quality of a display.
The latter in fact is given by several factors: development technology, color calibration, pixel density, and much more. To be clear, a 90Hz display might offer higher quality than a 120Hz one.
Refresh Rate – Conclusion
Today we hear a lot about refresh rates in relation to the smartphone world. This is because smartphones are used daily by almost everyone in the world today, and each user wants to know more about the devices they are carrying about.
Refresh rates can generally be used for devices having screens and it differs with products.
It fosters a good experience while gaming and also brings satisfaction to users.
Feel free to comment your phone type and its refresh rates below.
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