iPhone 13 could finally adopt an always-on display, years after Android OEMs

iPhone 12 Mini display in front of neon

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
  • Apple could reportedly offer always-on display functionality on the iPhone 13 series.
  • This feature displays info on the phone screen when you’re not using it.
  • The iPhone maker would be years behind Android rivals in offering this option.

The always-on display (AOD) has been a staple on various Android phones for years now, with the likes of Google, Samsung, and others offering this feature. But it’s been a staple on smartphones in general for over a decade, dating back to Symbian phones in the late 2000s.

Now, it looks like Apple is finally jumping on the bandwagon, as Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman (h/t: 9to5Mac) has suggested that the iPhone 13 series will gain an “Apple Watch-like always-on mode.”

AOD functionality allows a user to view information on their display without having to activate their phone screen. The feature is available on phones with LCD and OLED panels, but it’s generally more power-efficient on OLED screens as only the lit pixels are consuming power. On the other hand, phones with LCD panels generally have to use the power-hungry backlight for AOD functionality.

Why is Apple late to the party?

It’s unclear why Apple hasn’t implemented AOD tech just yet, but this is presumably due to power consumption concerns. It looks like the firm may have addressed this though, as Gurman says the iPhone maker could also offer a “new display for better battery life” and a 120Hz refresh rate.

We’re guessing the new display is an LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) screen as seen on the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy S21 series. This screen tech opens the door for much lower refresh rates, so Apple could theoretically run the always-on display at way below the standard 60Hz refresh rate (perhaps as low as 1Hz for maximum efficiency).

In any event, it stands to reason that Apple’s always-on display will show information like text/call/IM alerts, the time and date, and the weather.

Gurman otherwise adds that the iPhone 13 series will also deliver smaller notches, the A15 processor, and video recording upgrades. But how important is an always-on display to you when buying a phone? Let us know via the poll above.

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