What Does Refresh Rate Mean? Does 90Hz or 120Hz Refresh Rate on Smartphone Screen Matter?

Being a tech blogger for more than a decade now, I witnessed first hand the evolution of features that consumers look for in a handset.

During Nokia's heydays, it was design and form factor. Users merely wanted a phone with exterior features that reflect who they are or their aspirations in life. High-end consumers wanted sleek, metal-clad devices while young ones opted for those with vibrant colors.

When the Finnish Giant released their much-talked-about N-Series phones with stellar imaging capabilities, consumers started embracing handsets that can double as their point and shoot cameras. Suddenly, mid-level to top-tier consumers were looking for phones with high-resolution cameras and faster processor for rendering images.

The rise of Android smartphones during the early 2010's heralded new "wants" by mobile consumers. The market saw a clamor for larger and higher-resolution displays with thin bezels, multi-core processors, high amounts of RAM and internal storage, multi-camera set-ups, and larger battery packs.

These days, with Apple and Samsung leading the pack in creating smartphones with stellar video recording capabilities, buyers started looking for enhanced stabilization, better HDR, and top-notch low-light performance when shooting clips using merely their daily handsets.

Isn't it amazing how far we've gone in terms of mobile device features?

90Hz Refresh Rate Smartphone Display

One feature that handset makers, including hotshot tech brand realme, are promoting to consumers is High Display Refresh Rate, usually at 90Hz or 120Hz.

realme even prints this at the bottom of their current smartphone releases, including the popular realme 7i

As a result, many of you have been messaging me and asking me what exactly this "90z Ultra Smooth Display" feature means. Does it even matter? Will this improve your overall mobile experience?

Let me answer all your inquiries in one go.

Essentially, Refresh Rate - which is measured in Hertz (Hz) - is the number of times per second that your display or screen will show new information or frames. Refresh Rate is usually determined by both display type and processor working in tandem.

In everyday usage, you can appreciate this when viewing home-screen and multitasking panel transitions on your smartphone as well when you are scrolling through icons in the app drawer. Because more frames or information can be shown on a high-refresh-rate screen, you get a more fluid or buttery-smooth visual experience as well as seemingly more responsive touch input.

However, it is in mobile gaming where I believe this technology will come into full blossom.

As our smartphones become more capable of delivering console-like gaming experience and as our internet connection speeds improve, I'm sure developers will come up with new 3D titles that will support ultra-high frame rates up to 120 fps for life-like animation.

In fact, as early as now, there are already numerous 120fps games that can be downloaded from Google Play Store. These titles include Marvel Contest of Champions, Pokemon Go, Arena of Valor, Vainglory, Minecraft, Sonic Dash 2, and even your humble Temple Run 2.

Eventually, when even more incredible 120fps titles are released, you can enjoy them with no lags and stuttering on your smartphone screen if it supports 120Hz refresh rate. 90Hz is not bad too since 90fps is more than enough for a very fluid visual feast.

So should you look for high display refresh rate on a smartphone? Well, I think it's a must-have in the flagship or high-end price category these days. I think almost all new handset models in the PHP 40,000+ bracket already have at least 90Hz refresh rate. Now, if you can get this feature on a smartphone that costs less than PHP 20,000, I think it's a real treat that you shouldn't pass on.

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