Samsung Details The Note 20 Ultra's Variable Refresh Rate Display

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Samsung on Wednesday announced new, variable refresh rate (VRR) display technology for smartphones. This technology brings a "remarkable power-saving" capability on mobile devices. It will debut on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, which goes on sale on August 21.

This year’s smartphones have made 90Hz display refresh rates standard, with the premium models offering even higher 120Hz refresh rates for a smooth experience. However, higher refresh rate displays also drastically increase power draw. Samsung aims to alleviate this drawback with its VRR display technology.

The 120Hz VRR panel in use on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G allows the device to operate at 120, 60, 30, or 10Hz refresh rate depending on the need, thus reducing power consumption. The device will operate at 120Hz while performing activities that require fast frame changes, such as mobile gaming. But if the situation doesn't call for a high refresh rate, it will switch to lower modes.

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Samsung says the device will automatically switch to a 60Hz rate while streaming a video. The refresh rate will come down to a 30Hz rate when the user is going through their emails. Lastly, the display will operate at a 10Hz rate while viewing still images or surfing through social media.

This is possibly the first time a smartphone is offering a 10Hz display refresh rate. Samsung does mention that lower refresh rates result in image flickering because of luminance differences.

However, the company's new backplane technology eliminates this limitation as well. Although it doesn't detail the backplane technology in use on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, reports are that it's the LTPO (Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide) backplane tech.

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Samsung promises lower power consumption with variable refresh rate display technology

Some of the current generation high-end smartphones do offer the ability to switch between different refresh rates. However, the user needs to manually switch between the multiple available options, thus we cannot call it a VRR display.

Essentially, these smartphones offer only a fixed display refresh rate. As a result, the display draws the same amount of power regardless of the type of content it is showing.

Samsung, meanwhile, is pioneering a new display technology that consumes the least possible amount of power for each type of application. The company says its low-power OLED adaptive frequency technology can reduce overall power consumption by as much as 22 percent over existing smartphone display technologies.

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Moreover, when in 10Hz mode, the display draws just about 60 percent of the operating power of existing display technologies. Samsung, however, doesn't specify whether it is comparing the power consumption rate with a standard 120Hz display, or 90Hz or 60Hz ones. Given that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G features a 120Hz display, we assume it's the former.

Nonetheless, Samsung's new display technology will sharply improve the power efficiency of 5G smartphones, which usually are more power-hungry. Expect the South Korean giant to use this ground-breaking technology in more of its products in the future.