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Sketchy rumor claims 120Hz LTPO iPhone not due until 2021

The so-called iPhone 12 could feature ProMotion on the upper-tier models. Credit: EverythingApplePro

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Apple's 2020 iPhone "Pro" lineup may sport the company's ProMotion display technology, but one self-proclaimed expert suggests that they'll lack a key battery optimization feature.

Rumors of a 2020 iPhone capable of achieving variable 60Hz and 120Hz display refresh rates stretch back to July 2019. Recently, notable leaker Jon Prosser claimed the technology, dubbed ProMotion by Apple, will indeed arrive on this year's so-called "iPhone 12 Pro" models.

But Ross Young, founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, claims that Apple's upcoming Pro smartphones won't have low-temperature polycrystalline oxide backplanes (LTPO) — a technology he suggests is essential for displays with variable refresh rates up to 120Hz.

LTPO, which Apple already uses in the Apple Watch Series 5, is a power-saving backplane technology. Young said that the first iPhones with LTPO-equipped displays aren't going to arrive until 2021.

Young didn't outright claim that ProMotion requires LTPO, but he did suggest that the lack of LTPO could mean reduced battery life compared to flagships equipped with both the low-power backplane and a variable refresh rate. Prosser, in his leaks, did mention that Apple could implement ProMotion on the "iPhone 12" in software if the feature ends up consuming too much battery life.

It's worth noting that there are currently smartphones with 120Hz refresh rates on the market without LTPO. The iPad Pro lineup, which has a 120Hz ProMotion display, also lacks LTPO technology.

If and when it's adopted on a future iPhone, LTPO could pave the way for an always-on display feature similar to the Apple Watch Series 5.