2020 iPhone rumors: Apple could finally give us a 120Hz ‘ProMotion’ display

The 2019 iPhone models haven’t even been officially announced yet, and we’re already starting to see reports about what will be in the 2020 iPhones. We’ve compiled the most notable ones here, but take these with a big grain of salt. Even if these reports are accurate representations of what suppliers are saying, or come from moles within Apple itself, the company’s plans can and do change. There’s still plenty of time before the design and features have to be totally set in stone.

Update 07/22/19: Well-known Samsung leaker @UniverseIce on Twitter claims that Apple is in talks with Samsung and LG to provide a 60/120Hz switchable display for the 2020 iPhones.

ProMotion comes to iPhone

Apple’s iPad Pro models have had ‘ProMotion’ displays for a couple years now. It’s a special LCD with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, along with adaptive refresh rate scaling. Thus far, the feature has not come to iPhone: All iPhones feature displays locked at a 60Hz refresh rate.

A well-known leaker of Samsung news on Twitter, Ice Universe, claims that Apple is in talks with Samsung and LG to provide a switchable 60Hz/120Hz display for the 2020 iPhones. One would assume that these would be OLED displays, as there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about variable refresh rate or high refresh rate LCDs.

ice iphone 120hz rumor @UniverseIce

Will iPhones get ‘ProMotion’ displays next year?

It’s also unclear if this display would have true adaptive refresh rates as the ProMotion displays on iPad Pros do, or if it would simply switch between 60Hz and 120Hz modes.

Time-of-Flight rear camera

A recent report from Digitimes claims that “Apple has reportedly asked its supply chain partner to supply VCSEL components for use in rear ToF camera lens in its mobile devices to be released in 2020, according to supply chain sources.”

We’ve heard this rumor before, both from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, and in a research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

VCSEL stands for Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser. It’s a type of semiconductor that emits a low-power laser (usually infrared, so humans can’t see it). It’s used in a lot of consumer devices today for simple range-finding; to assist in augmented reality, Apple would use a more complex chip that fires a big grid of lasers, then measures the time-of-flight for that light to determine distance. Effectively, this would produce a low-res “image” where each pixel has depth info rather than color.