Opinion

Galaxy S20’s 120Hz refresh rate is awesome despite the limitations

Samsung’s move to displays with high refresh rates has come later than most other players in the Android smartphone market. But the Korean giant made up for the delay by going straight to 120Hz refresh rate instead of slapping a 90Hz display on its latest flagship, the Galaxy S20 series. The Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra are the world’s first smartphones to feature 120Hz OLED displays, and after just a short time of using the S20+, I’ve realized that adjusting to anything less than 120Hz refresh rate is going to be extremely tough to do.

Refresh rate, according to its definition on Google, is “the frequency with which the image on a computer monitor or similar electronic display screen is refreshed, usually expressed in hertz.” A 60Hz display refreshes the image on-screen 60 times every second, a 120Hz screen refreshes the image 120 times, and so on. What that means in layman terms is that every kind of moving content, such as a movie, game, or a GIF, is a result of a bunch of static images being displayed on-screen in quick succession to simulate motion, and the faster the refresh rate, the faster and smoother everything from movies and games to simple animations and scrolling will seem.

Limitations aside, high refresh rate displays make a big difference

And, on the Galaxy S20, the smoother user interface animations and scrolling make all the difference in the world. Samsung’s One UI skin is beautiful, and it feels even more so on my Galaxy S20+. On the Galaxy S10+ and Note 10+, the animations for when you scroll through an app or when you open an app look positively laggy in comparison. It’s not that the S10+ and Note 10+ are actually laggy, but the fact that their displays can’t refresh as quickly as the display on the S20+ makes it seem like the animations stutter on the 2019 flagships.

Again, it’s comparative: If you’ve not used a smartphone display with a high refresh rate before, you won’t find anything wrong with your Galaxy S10, Note 10, or any other Galaxy smartphone in day-to-day use. But once you’ve had the pleasure of using one of the Galaxy S20 smartphones for a few hours, you will instantly start noticing how your existing smartphone — whether it’s a flagship, mid-range, or budget device — doesn’t seem to be as fast as you thought it was before you picked up a Galaxy S20.

In fact, it’s making me dread having to use other Galaxy smartphones with 60Hz displays to review them in the coming months – the 120 Hz display on the Galaxy S20 is that good. Many wonder what all the excitement for high refresh rate displays is all about – I was one of them until I started using the Galaxy S20+, and I’m now a total believer. I really hope high refresh rate displays will become more commonplace across Galaxy devices of all segments despite some of their limitations.

What limitations are those? Well, first of all, the high refresh rate results in noticeable reduction in battery life. Secondly, the 120 Hz screen mode doesn’t stay active all the time. As we had reported when the Galaxy S20 went official, the phone reverts to 60 Hz refresh rate when the device temperature goes above 42C, when apps like Camera and Google Maps are being used, and when battery life goes below 5%. And, the problem is, the Galaxy S20+ does tend to easily heat up, especially if you take a lot of photos and if you record 8K videos.

And it doesn’t seem like the phone waits to reach 5% charge, either. I noticed the refresh rate going low even at 15% battery life, so there are plenty of situations where the phone doesn’t let you enjoy the 120Hz refresh rate. Yes, you also can’t use 120Hz with the maximum screen resolution. I don’t exactly see a problem with that, but if you do, there’s hope Samsung will remove the resolution limitation with a software update in the future or at least on its next 2020 flagship.

We’ll have more to tell you about the high refresh rate displays on the Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra in our upcoming reviews, but if you need a single word answer to whether or not the 120Hz screen on Samsung’s new flagship series is a solid reason to make the purchase, our response is a resounding yes.

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Musawar Mustafa
Musawar Mustafa

how to set profile picture in sammobile account?

marko1182
marko1182

Update for that and for camera on Samsung S20 Ultra and beast is ready to go!

deardevil
deardevil

what is the best to watch netflix with HDR content, 120Hz in HD+ or 60Hz in QHD?

onur9415
onur9415

For media consuming (Youtube, Netflix etc.) 120Hz is meaningless because the content you’ll be watching would be 60fps at max. Most of the videos such as TV Series and Moviles will be 24 or 30fps, while youtube videos reaches 60fps at max.

So no, you may want to stick with 60hz option to avoid wasting meaningless energy which will drain your bettery for sure.

siaho
siaho

120Hz is a really big jump for real. Enyone that used high refresh rate monitor will know that. Samsung should allow [email protected] tho. Yeah, put a disclaimer that it will drain the battery fast, but don’t artificially restrict that.

Pr1m3MOD
Pr1m3MOD

Stop praising Samsung for what the next “flagship” standards and start talking more about what it lacks.
120Hz at QHD is out there on other smartphones. Samsung doesn’t have it and you’re stucked praising 1080p 120Hz for a 1000$ smartphone.

siaho
siaho

1400$

CoD511
CoD511

That’s just the Ultra. They all have 120Hz displays.

CoD511
CoD511

I hope you’re aware Samsung provides the panels for those other phones. There are always certain sacrifices that are made also, even if not readily apparent to consumers. Colour accuracy, pixel persistence for example.

But I agree, it should be an option and hopefully will be a reality like XDA has leaked/rumoured.

fidocampeao
fidocampeao

I don’t really understand why anyone would use a quadHD screen on fullHD resolution… the pixel count can’t match, probably resulting on some sort of “distorted” image. Maybe the higher refresh rate is meant to play games and not to be used all the time, although if it does turn off on heating, gaming wouldn’t be the best choice.

CoD511
CoD511

A fundamental misunderstanding that most people make when thinking of this; the 1080p/FHD+ isn’t upscaled in a simple manner.

It’s rendered at 2400×1080 by the GPU and then the GPU/display scalar displays it perfectly scaled without any terrible interpolation. No blur is added, all the pixels are used. It’s just the internal render resolution. Running at 1440p however will add more detail.

kaoniao
kaoniao

samsung oled screen for flagship is already excellent so in this case I rather have amazing battery life rather 120hz refresh rate since I use mainly for web surfing and videos

cardicek
cardicek

Exactly because it is an unnoticeable thing to the direct eye. And best as they compare it from 60Hz in slow motion: D how ridiculous. This doesn’t appeal to me at all to switch from S10 + for this feature

siaho
siaho

It totally is noticeable and totally not worth to change from s10+ to the ultra for that feature alone (and the ultra is massively overpriced given the features it has).

CoD511
CoD511

It depends on who you ask. I’ve been using 120Hz monitors since 2011 on PC. I’ve grown rather accustomed to the refresh rate, even if it was harder to notice at first in 2011.. now I can’t live without it.

So it’s worth it for me, personally.

SWIZZBEATZ
SWIZZBEATZ

The S10 plus is a great phone bro. Long live the headphone jack. I have a note 10 plus and keeping it for another year.

mrmobileperformance
mrmobileperformance

I think Samsung will flip the switch on 120 Hz for the S20’s Quad HD resolution before too long, especially now that Xiaomi’s Black Shark 3 promises to do just that. It would also be a good feature to activate when the next iPhone comes out.

o0MHJ0o
o0MHJ0o

Don’t buy into the hype, it’s not a big difference in day to day to use. I’ve yet to see when gaming… Which Forza is supposed to support. But in terms of day to day use, it is absolutely NEGLIGIBLE the difference. When my Ultra arrives, I’ll happily take the 1440p 60hz screen and extra battery life over 120hz. And to make sure my eyes worked properly, I was with my friend who also could barely tell the difference. Again, I can see the appeal for gamers, and I’m eager to try what difference this makes to gaming. But simply… Read more »

mrmobileperformance
mrmobileperformance

Once you’ve experienced the difference, it’s hard to go back.

pjm1
pjm1

I agree, without knowing the details it sounds like Samsung is doing more than just doubling the refresh rate. 120hz will have pretty much zero effect in normal operations, only fast moving applications, like games, would see any benefit to a purely higher refresh rate.

cardicek
cardicek

Exactly only advertising scramble for people who do not know it in life: D but yeah if they eat it a few individuals: D see the moderator how it praises and the result is negligible. But he will praise it to heaven: D

Mario387
Mario387

If you can’t use it on highest resolution, and not all the time. Then it’s just a gimic not a serious option. It really sounds more that it was put in for the bragging and not to make a solid product.

I would think we should expect more from them if they want to sell this for 1400 dollar.

cardicek
cardicek

These are again nothing to S10 + glaze and it is not possible to recognize the S20 +. article just for it ab guests bought S20 + while the transition from S10 + at all makes no sense.

FooFan73
FooFan73

” at all makes no sense”

A bit like your entire post then?

cardicek
cardicek

And is it here somebody write exactly how it is and is it stupid? : D No sir he’s just right and he’s annoying you a lot 🙂 njn Truth hurts Switching from S10 + to 20+ doesn’t make sense at all. See the photos of it: X