In context: Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 is likely to arrive later this year, and if rumors we've seen so far are anything to go off of, it should be a pretty impressive package. Reports claim the device will launch with upgraded video recording tech, enhanced battery life, a smaller "notch," and a 120Hz refresh rate (a first for Apple phones).
One LG report from around Christmas of last year even suggested that Apple would begin implementing always-on display tech into its newest devices. According to the report, LG has been creating low-temperature polycrystalline oxide-based (LPTO) panels for Apple's Pro-tier iPhones. These panels allow devices to achieve highly variable refresh rates – the number can go as high as 120Hz, or as low as 10Hz, depending on what each manufacturer allows.
10Hz is right around what the iPhone, or any other modern phone, would need to achieve always-on display functionality without significant battery drain. The higher your refresh rate, the faster your battery will deplete. Combined with OLED, LPTO panel tech could keep the refresh rate low when 60 or 120Hz aren't needed and allow certain portions of your screen to remain on at all times. This could include a clock, the date and time, the outside temperature, and more.
Last year's supplier rumor isn't the only indication we have that the iPhone 13 could launch with an always-on display. Bloomberg's award-winning tech journalist and Power On newsletter runner Mark Gurman also feels the feature is a likely addition. "Expect a faster A15 chip, smaller notch, a new display for better battery life and the potential of an Apple Watch-like always on mode," Gurman said in his latest issue of Power On. "...and a 120Hz refresh rate and upgrades to video recording."
Gurman did not go into details regarding where he got his beliefs, but he's proven fairly reliable in the past when it comes to Apple-related rumors, leaks, and news. At the very least, he's lending credence to an already likely theory.
This highly-anticipated feature has been a long time coming: Android users have had access to always-on screens for years, but Apple has resisted the technology's implementation. Could 2021 finally be the year that changes? We'll find out in a couple of months.