What Is VRR? Breaking Down Variable Refresh Rate

Does Refresh Rate Matter? Buy a Phone with a Dynamic Refresh Rate

Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand with 90Hz, 120Hz, and even 144Hz panels with full HD and 2K resolution, which is no surprise given the popularity of high refresh rate displays. However, these displays may be quite draining on batteries, where the distinction between a high refresh rate and a variable refresh rate (VRR) screen comes into play.

Screens with a variable refresh rate can save battery by slowing down their refresh rate based on the displayed content. For example, if you’re looking at a static image or scrolling through photographs in your gallery app, there’s no need for the display to refresh 90 or 120 times per second; instead, a one fps or 15 fps refresh would suffice.

The variable refresh rate has long been a popular gaming monitor feature, but there are a few drawbacks to using the same concept on smartphones.

Phones have true variable refresh rate constraints.

Let’s take a look at some of the challenges with VRR on phones. To begin with, the majority of Android-based user interfaces only support 60Hz. Furthermore, existing DDICs (Display driver ICs) for smartphone displays supposedly do not allow variable refresh rates.

Modern phones’ variable refresh rate is mode switching: the phone detects the screen content and switches to a specified refresh rate mode. This means that a phone can run at 48 Hz or 60 Hz but not at any frequency in between, such as 55 Hz or 58 Hz.

Most modern high-resolution phones swing between 60hz, 90hz, 120hz, and 144hz modes.

Only recently have Android phones have been released that can fall below 60 Hz, and these are promoted as VRR phones that assist save power.

Is it true that phones have a variable refresh rate or a dynamic refresh rate? 


On the Android side of things, Samsung and Xiaomi are two companies that promote VRR-like technologies, and we expect several additional manufacturers to follow suit in the future.

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra was the first smartphone with a ‘dynamic variable refresh rate.’ This is accomplished by the use of a HOP (Hybrid Oxide and Polycrystalline Silicon) display panel with quicker switching transistors in the display backplane, as well as display driver-level enhancements.

The Galaxy Note20 Ultra, according to AnandTech, converts from genuine variable refresh rate to mode-switching VRR depending on ambient light, selected display brightness, and content brightness.

Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s True VRR isn’t completely seamless when switching between preset modes — there are more gradations or subgroups in each mode. The Galaxy Note20 Ultra, for example, can switch between 1Hz, 10Hz, 24Hz, 30Hz, 40Hz, and 60Hz in 60Hz mode.

Xiaomi’s implementation of the AdaptiveSync changeable display is much more rudimentary. 144Hz, 120Hz, 90Hz, 60Hz, 50Hz, 48Hz, and 30Hz are just a few of the presets on Xiaomi and Poco phones’ IPS LCDs. However, the business claims a similar reduction in battery consumption, which may be the most crucial factor.

In 2016, Apple enabled VRR on iPad Pros and Macbook Pros, allowing the screen to be set to a constant 30Hz instead of the typical 60Hz for static content, which helped save battery life.

Because such implementations offer refresh rates below 60Hz, we shall classify such phones as True Variable Refresh Rate or Dynamic Refresh Rate phones because they are advertised as such.

It should be noted that none of these implementations are compatible with Seamless VRR, which is available on gaming displays.

The following is a list of phones that have VRR (dynamic refresh rate) displays.

A few phones that enable VRR screens are listed below. As of today, the list is quite restricted.

1. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

 Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features a stunning display and powerful cameras. Compared to the Snapdragon 865, the Exynos 990 that powers the phone in India is a touch lackluster, but it’s still powerful enough for most consumer demands.

Based on some factors, the 2K display supports full HD resolution, but the panel may fluctuate between 1Hz and 120Hz. The Note20 Ultra is the phone that comes closest to achieving flawless VRR.

  • Price and features for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 

 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (review) is the company’s first phone to feature a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate at full 2K resolution. The Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 have changeable refresh rates, although they are not dynamic and only switch in a few essential modes (48Hz, 60Hz, 96Hz, 120Hz).

The technology is comparable to that of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The AF mechanism on the Galaxy S21 series has been enhanced, as well as the chipset.

  • Price and features of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

VRR will be available on other Samsung flagships as well:

  • Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 (for the main screen)

3. Xiaomi Mi 10I (for the secondary screen)

 Xiaomi Mi 10I (for the secondary screen)
Xiaomi Mi 10I (for the secondary screen)

A 120Hz adaptive sync display changes between 6 presentations on the Xiaomi Mi 10I (review). The Mi 10I’s IPS LCD panel isn’t the only feature to look forward to. The phone features an octa-core Snapdragon 750G processor, a Samsung HM2 108MP resolution sensor for the primary camera, and a large battery with rapid charging capability.

In addition, the Mi 10I comes at a relatively low price.

  • Xiaomi Mi10I pricing and features

4. Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G smartphones

 Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G smartphones
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G smartphones

The Xiaomi Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro include a 144Hz 6.67-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD panel set to 30hz with static content to save battery life.

The Snapdragon 865 is available for a relatively low price in the 10T series, and the Pro version has a better-quality primary camera (108MP vs. 64MP). A 5000mAh battery, dual speakers, Dual-mode 5G, and Wi-Fi 6 are other features.

  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro pricing and features
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T pricing and features

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5. OnePlus 9 Pro

 OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro

Fluid Display 2.0 will be introduced by OnePlus in their future device. This fancy phrase encompasses both the LTPO backplane and a novel touch response technology, among other things.

The OnePlus 9 Pro display will cut battery consumption while maintaining high refresh rates thanks to the use of LTPO. This occurs because, depending on the on-screen content, the refresh rate will cycle between 120Hz and 1Hz. The new Fluid Display, according to OnePlus, uses up to 50% less power while maintaining a seamless visual.

  • OnePlus 9 Pro pricing and features

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