If there’s one feature we wanted more than anything else on the Samsung Galaxy S20 it was a faster 120Hz display – thankfully Samsung has listened. But enabling this feature does come with a massive caveat.
As was heavily rumoured in the weeks before release, the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 Ultra can only utilise that fast refresh rate when the screen’s resolution is set to FHD+. Jack things up to the highest QHD+ resolution and you’ll be bumped back down to 60Hz.
This decision means you won’t be able to get the most out of the screen’s capabilities as you will have to choose between resolution and smoothness.
The reason for this couldn’t be clearer – battery life. Phones that have previously upped the refresh rate from 60Hz to 90Hz or 120Hz have suffered from often terrible battery life. The Pixel 4 XL, for example, paired a 90Hz panel with a QHD+ resolution and even though the refresh rate altered slightly depending on the brightness it was hamstrung by terrible endurance. Samsung clearly doesn’t want to end up in the same position.
During a briefing session for the new S20 series we were told that by default the phones will be set to QHD+ at 30Hz. This is a different move for Samsung as in previous years the S series flagship required you to manually up the resolution yourself.
We were also told that if you set it to 120Hz then it will stick at that, rather than automatically dialling itself down when the extra smoothness is of no benefit.
This news will likely come as a disappointment to those who had hoped for full control over the display. 2020 looks like a year full of 120Hz displays so it’ll be interesting to see whether this method becomes the norm. OPPO’s VP Brian Shen has already teased the brand’s next flagship, likely to be announced at MWC 2020 in a few weeks, will also boast both a 2K resolution and a 120hz refresh-rate and OnePlus is expected to follow later in the year with its OnePlus 8.
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