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A Refresher Course on 90 Hz

If you’ve ever looked at the OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro’s 90 Hz display, you don’t need us to tell you how much smoother your experience is at a higher refresh rate. But, as with any great technological leap forward, explaining the benefits of 90 Hz to someone who’s never seen it is a little like describing snow to someone who’s spent their whole life by the beach. A Smooth Display Experience sounds great in theory, but what does it mean in practice, and why should you care?

Looking at a 90 Hz screen for the first time, after a lifetime of low refresh rates, marks a leap as stark as the switch from Standard Definition to High Definition many years ago. Internally, we jokingly refer to our ‘Fluid AMOLED’ technology as ‘the Warp Charge of smartphone displays.’

Let’s start at the beginning, when the Hz unit first got its name. Back in the 19th century, German physicist Heinrich Hertz was the first to prove the existence of electromagnetic waves. You know, the invisible rays that enable everything, from a cup of instant noodles to an X-ray machine. In recognition of his breakthrough research, the Hertz unit was named after him

Today, we define a single Hertz as a cycle per second. This means that when you read ‘90 Hz refresh rate’, what you’re really looking at is, ‘a refresh rate of 90 cycles per second.’

Put simply, the display can update itself with new information 90 times every second. If you’ve ever drawn in a flipbook, you can think of a 90 Hz display as a display that flips through 90 pages of a paper flipbook a second. And just like in a flipbook or zoetrope, the more pages you can flip through in a second, the smoother your animation becomes.

Heinrich Hertz

Depending on your age, or how much you love ancient technology, you might have spent some time with an older CRT monitor. The refresh rates of these monitors was so limited, often capped at no more than 5 Hz, that the display visibly flickered. The result felt choppy, because the display couldn’t feed our eyes with enough information to appear smooth. Smartphone owners today spend more time on their phone than ever. Our phone is essential to our modern life, both socially and professional, so the optimal viewing experience has to be more than just beautiful, it also has to be comfortable. This is part of our belief that a truly burdenless flagship experience feels like a natural and effortless extension of your life. A 90 Hz refresh rate significantly smoothens out images, and by feeding your eyes with more information at any given time, it makes for more comfortable and less strenuous extended viewing. It’s immediately stunning, and always pleasant.

Now you might be wondering what the difference is between frame rate and refresh rate. Going by our flipbook analogy, you can think of the refresh rate as the display’s ability to flip through different pages. Frame rate, on the other hand, is determined by the exact drawings shown on those pages. When you’re scrolling, the hardware powering your device is essentially the painter drawing 90 different drawings for you to look at – every single second.

Zoetrope

To be able to render all of the data needed to fill that incredible refresh rate, we rely on increasingly intelligent software algorithms and processing power. Without a combination of powerful hardware and software, your device would never be able to fill all of those frames with new information. So, when you’re soothed by the buttery goodness of your display, take a moment to consider the incredible amount of hardware at work, both within and behind your display, to make that possible. (Thanks Qualcomm)

Today, whether you’re laughing your way through your Twitter feed or are simply exploring the many different features and tools of OxygenOS, everything you do feels smoother and faster. A 90 Hz display is a display that shows you more. More frames, more pixels, and more of your favorite content.

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