OnePlus CEO Pete Lau announced that the next significant phones— presumably the OnePlus 8 pro — will feature 120Hz refresh-rate screens. Lau is not one for subtlety and stated that it would be “the best smartphone display in 2020,” Having not seen it, we cannot assume if that claim is more than just nonsense.
OnePlus says it worked closely with Samsung to develop the OLED screen and in addition to improving animations (especially the basic OS gestures) on top of Android devices. Worked so they will look smooth at 120Hz.
OnePlus also aims to use a custom MEMC chip to embed extra frames into videos to bring them up to 120Hz. Calling it motion smoothing for video on smartphones wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate. However, we would have to see again whether it is having a “soap opera effect” in person before we call it a bad idea. In settings, MEMC will be able to switch on and off.
The image showing by OnePlus at the top of the post does not convey a ton of information but does indicate where the MEMC hardware chip would sit. It also tends to show a pop-up camera feature, astute viewers will remember.
Finally, OnePlus claims that its screen can hit 1000 nits of HDR content peak brightness has a 240Hz touch sampling rate and supports 10-bit colour.
The OnePlus 8 (or whatever they call) will not be the first phone to reach 120Hz. Both Razer Phone 2 and ROG Phone 2 did the same last year. Nor will it be the only Android phone to come out this year with a refresh rate higher than-60Hz. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S series is expected to feature refresh rates of 120Hz when unveiled on 11 February. The challenges facing all those phones will include offsetting a high-refresh-rate screen’s higher battery costs and convincing consumers of the extra cost worth enhancing smoothness.
Users should be able to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz, but this may not be a variable refresh rate as Google has attempted (rather unsuccessfully) to do on the 90Hz screen of Pixel 4. And while in some cases it may lower the refresh rate when it isn’t required, it won’t match the refresh rate of, say, 24FPS video.
Lau thinks that last part won’t be hard. “It’s something you can tell,” he says like you could see 90Hz, calling it a “further level” of smoothness, particularly with scrolling and gestures. Lau further states that the company has focused on maximising power consumption. It’s already a problem with 90Hz displays so it will be even more of a 120Hz issue.
OnePlus has pledged to hold an event today in Shenzhen, China to show more of this new screen technology. It seems as if businesses revealing their phone features before releasing their products will be just the new normal now.