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What is 120Hz? The big new feature rumored for iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 is rumored to possibly support 120Hz. What's that?

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Apple is rumored to be bringing a 120Hz display to its iPhone lineup.

Reports from DigiTimes, EverythingApplePro, Ice Universe and more claim the feature is on its way. The faster screen is expected to be limited to the most expensive two devices out of Apple's four-device lineup, coming to the premium 6.1-inch and 6.5-inch models while skipping the 5.4-inch and cheaper 6.1 inch models.

A 120Hz screen would mean a screen that updates 120 times per second, and that's got fans excited.

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What is Hz?

Hertz, normally shortened to Hz, is a measurement of frequency. One Hz is one cycle per second.

When it comes to screens, Hz measures how many times per second a screen cycles its contents.

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How many Hz is my screen?

The screen you're using to read this article is probably 60Hz.

The North American electricity grid delivers power at a frequency of 60Hz. The NTSC standard for television screens set the rate for screens at 60Hz to match the power grid. In Europe, where the grid runs at 50Hz, the PAL and SECAM standards also set TV screens to match that rate.

Smartphones like the iPhone tend to refresh their screens at 60Hz — with some exceptions.

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120Hz

Higher Hz means smoother motion for the likes of scrolling, moving content, and video games. It's a difference that only becomes apparent in person.

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Who is making 120Hz screens?

Apple for starters. The iPad Pro that launched in 2017 featured "ProMotion," the company's own term for a 120Hz refresh rate. The feature has remained in place for the Pro line.

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The faster screens are coming to other devices. The OnePlus 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 both feature the screens this year.

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Will a faster screen lead to higher framerate movies?

Probably not. Most television footage for North America is provided in a 30 frames per second format. This is a holdover from older TV days, where an interlaced scan would cycle the screen at 60Hz using the 30 frames in each second. The main exception is feature films, which tend to use 24 frames per second.

There are some exceptions to this. The Hobbit was released in a super-fast 48 frames per second format. You're probably not going to see a 120 frames per second film any time soon, though.

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Rumors suggest Apple will unveil its new iPhone lineup in September.

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