What is the High Refresh Rate? Frame Rate? (Phones, TVs, Monitors)
Many of us TV preferences and monitors now boast displays with high refresh rates that promise slower onscreen action and a sharper picture. The most recent IPhone 13 Pro models can reach a 120-Hz refresh rate, as can many phones running Google’s Android OS.
High refresh rates are also mentioned in many parts of the game, where quick reactions and instant onscreen updates can mean the difference between win and loss.
What is the Refresh Rate?
All the content of your display is composed of individual frames (photos) that are displayed sequentially at the highest speed. The refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), and it dictates how often the frame can be changed. A refresh rate of 120 Hz allows a new frame to be displayed up to 120 times per second. A 60-Hz display can only refresh the screen 60 times per second. And you’ll know how many times a 90-Hz screen can refresh.
And What About Frame Rate?
It is important to remember that the potential benefit of a high screen refresh rate is limited by the frame rate of any onscreen. In video or video game graphics, these are displayed frames per second (fps). Movies typically run at 24 frames per second because it’s a theater standard, while many games can run up to 120 fps.
Touching the Response Rate?
Just to confuse you, manufacturers sometimes list the touch response rate (or touch rate sample) for touchscreen displays, which are also measured in hertz. This number is related to how often the touchscreen checks for a touch from your finger. The higher the touch response rate, the easier it will respond to your touch.
How to Refresh Rate Effects Your Phone
A much higher refresh rate allows the display of a phone to keep up with the playback action and minimize the movement of the video, but it can also navigate around the interface feeling more more responsive than a display with a much lower refresh rate. The games are less frenetic action, the video shots of the sport’s fastest move are much brighter, and any vibration of scrolling a long web page is minimized. To get the full benefit of a high refresh rate, you also need a high frame rate, and best of all, the two are compatible.
The cost is always your battery life. Refreshing the image on a display multiple times per second requires a lot of battery power. Processing power is also required to run graphics at a much higher frame rate. Processors are advancing fast, but battery life is still limited by smartphones. For that reason, most phones with high refresh rates will not run at the highest rate of all time. These include some of the new iPhone Pro 13 models, which has an “adjustable” 120-Hz refresh rate, weighted at selected times, if you’re likely to notice a difference.
The highest refresh rates first come to gaming-focused smartphones Razer Phone, but manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus, and Google have since adopted them in headlines like Galaxy S21 series and the Pixel 5.
What about TVs and Monitors?
The benefits of a high refresh rate for a TV or monitor are the same as for a smartphone. The onscreen action should appear much slower, and the image may appear more smooth. Here, too, factor is the rate of content. There are times when the frame rate is not the same as the refresh rate, and that can make watching TV movies and movies worse.
Explained in ‘Effect of Soap Opera’
Some TVs and monitors are better than others at dealing with differences between frame rate and refresh rate. Many simply lower their refresh rate to match the frame rate, but those shown to have a fixed refresh rate should find other ways to cope with this difference.
If a movie runs at 24 frames per second, for example, but the refresh rate is higher, the TV can insert more frames to fill in the gaps. This can be straightforward if the refresh rate is not divided by the frame rate, because the TV can display many of the same frames. A 120-Hz refresh rate that displays at 24-fps, for example, can display each frame five times. But with a 60-Hz refresh rate and 24-fps footage, you end up showing an unequal number of frames, which can cause a judgmental, shaking effect for some viewers.