Third-party apps will soon be able to make full use of the iPhone 13 Pro’s 120Hz ProMotion display
Apple recently launched the iPhone 13 series comprising of the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini, which are the standard versions, accompanied by the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. There are two major differences between the standard and Pro models this time — the cameras and the display. The camera sensors are larger on the Pro variant, and they also have an additional telephoto lens. In addition, the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max get ProMotion 120Hz displays, while the standard models only get 60Hz displays.
The ProMotion display on the iPhone 13 Pro is an LTPO panel with variable refresh rate support, which means it can go from 10Hz up to 120Hz based on the content. While the 120Hz refresh rate ensures smooth animations throughout the UI, a few iOS developers have discovered (via 9to5Mac) that they can’t get some animations on their apps to support the higher refresh rate. Elements like scrolling are, by default, set to take advantage of the high refresh rate even on third-party apps. However, pop-up animations or similar effects produced while interacting with the UI are still limited to 60Hz. Notably, this isn’t the case with Apple’s first-party apps.
Initially, some believed that this was intentional and done to limit the battery consumption on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Since a high refresh rate display consumes more power, limiting animations to 60Hz in third-party apps could help extend the battery life on the Pro models. However, Apple disproved this theory in a statement to MacRumors.
Apple mentioned that all third-party apps can take advantage of the 120Hz refresh rate, but developers need to declare that their apps use this feature by making an entry in the app’s plist. Apple is doing this to ensure only apps that truly take advantage of the ProMotion displays get access to the feature. Apple also mentioned that there is a bug affecting the core animations framework on iOS, which might be limiting the frame rate on third-party apps. Apple plans to fix this in an upcoming update.
Once the bug fix rolls out and Apple shares instructions to add the plist entry, developers should be able to whitelist their apps to make the most of the 120Hz ProMotion displays.