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I refuse to buy another flagship without a 90Hz or faster refresh rate

OnePlus 7 Pro
OnePlus 7 Pro (Image credit: Android Central)

Each year brings a new list of smartphone trends, and as 2019 is making its way through the second half, it's evident what OEMs have been focused on this year. Waterdrop notches and hole-punch camera cutouts are in, headphone jacks continue to be obliterated from the face of the earth, and in-screen fingerprint sensors are the next solution for continuing to eliminate bezels.

There's another feature that's started to become more prominent this year, and that's displays with fast refresh rates. After the Razer Phone first introduced this concept in late-2017, it was given a more significant showcase this year with phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro, ASUS ROG Phone 2, and possibly in the upcoming Google Pixel 4.

While not as popular as some of the other trends we've seen in 2019, fast refresh rate displays have stuck out as something special to me. And, if I'm perfectly honest, have made it difficult for me to get excited about new phones that are released without the feature.

Take the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+, for example. Both phones are incredibly compelling handsets, offering gorgeous AMOLED displays, blazing-fast performance, trusty rear cameras, great battery, etc., etc. Unfortunately, both phones are capped at the traditional refresh rate of 60Hz.

Both phones have incredible-looking screens, especially the Note 10+, but after using the OnePlus 7 Pro as my daily driver, going back to something with a 60Hz panel feels archaic. I had to buy a Note 10+ for work, and while I'm interested in checking it out, I don't envision it becoming my go-to phone simply for the fact that it doesn't have a 90Hz or 120Hz display.

Placing so much importance on one feature might sound a bit dramatic, and if you haven't seen a fast refresh rate screen in person, I don't blame you. However, after using one for myself, it's getting impossible to go back to a device without it.

Not only is a faster refresh rate more pleasing to look at, it also gives off the impression that a phone moves faster compared to a handset without one. Compare two phones with the same processor, such as the OnePlus 7 Pro and Note 10, and the 7 Pro will appear to be faster than the Note since everything on the display is refreshing at a considerably quicker rate.

Now more than ever, flagship phones need to justify their $1000+ price tags.

There may not be an actual difference in either phone's performance, but because the 7 Pro's screen is refreshing faster, it'll look and feel snappier than the Note 10 by a considerable margin.

Maybe I value this feature more than the average user, but even so, it's getting to the point where it's a little ridiculous that we're being asked to spend a thousand dollars or more on a flagship phone that's stuck at the 60Hz rate — especially when OnePlus and ASUS have shown that you can include a 90Hz or 120Hz screen in a phone that costs around $700.

Flagship smartphones are supposed to offer the very best that the market has to offer, and a fast refresh rate is objectively better than a traditional one. Not only that, but with the mid and low-end market continually getting better and better, flagships need to do everything in their power to offer a compelling reason to spend hundreds of dollars more rather than just getting the latest Moto G phone (opens in new tab).

I think we'll eventually get to a point where 90Hz+ displays become commonplace, but it remains unclear how long it'll be before we get there. The rumor mill is pointing to the Pixel 4 adopting this feature, but Samsung, LG, Huawei, Apple, and most other companies have shown no interest so far in putting this technology on their phones.

Here's to hoping that changes sooner rather than later.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

50 Comments
  • I used the one plus 7 pro. It's smooth but I didn't have no problem going back to a 60 hz screen. Might be a preference for some people but it's not a critical feature for me.
  • It would be like refusing to date Cindy Crawford because she has a mole.
  • To be fair, they do have very sharp claws.
  • She's da bomb! Would love to get jiggy with it.
  • "Not only is a faster refresh rate more pleasing to look at, it also gives off the impression that a phone moves faster compared to a handset without one". "There may not be an actual difference in either phone's performance, but because the 7 Pro's screen is refreshing faster, it'll look and feel snappier than the Note 10 by a considerable margin". Sounds to me like form being preferred to actual improved functionality. For me that definitely CANNOT EVER cause me to prefer another phone over the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
  • So you'd rather have the appearance of speed at the cost of battery life?
  • Good for you.
  • There really is no reason the Note 10 plus should have not come with a 90 Hz rate, other then you know that is what they are probably going to introduce with the Galaxy 11 line. It is a business so they give a little at a time making their money along the way. Though if Samsung would just get with it and put all their eggs in one basket and hit it out of the park with their Note line. There would be no question of which phone maker is the best but alas, it is a retail market and money speaks. I still love my Note 10 plus.
  • I refuse to buy another flagship without an X55 5G modem.
  • We get it.
  • I refuse to give up my note 10 plus.
  • Not sure if it's true that using a higher frequency refresh rate makes it either more difficult or more expensive or both, to also make the screen's maximum brightness high. But if so, having used now the iPhone XS Max, Samsung S10+, OnePlus 7 Pro with 90Hz, and now the Note 10+, I'll take 60Hz and a higher max brightness. Yes, I use my phone outdoors enough to appreciate the phenomenal max brightness of the Samsung phones. I did have an issue with using the OP7 Pro in direct sunlight.
  • I have to admit, I was surprised at how bright the Note 10+ gets outside.
  • Same here. Nice to see someone who gets that it’s a benefit for smoother UI navigation. I really can’t stand when people say that unless you’re gaming on a super high end phone, you won’t notice the higher refresh rate. Personally, I think the higher refresh rates are more noticeable when navigating the UI than when gaming.
  • I refuse to buy another flagship with a curved screen ;)
  • I commit to buying a Pixel 4....
  • Is basically what Joe is saying!
  • This should be standard at this point, but I also don't go out seeking 90Hz refresh rates on my phones. I'm okay with my Note 10+ not having it although I would prefer it if it did.
  • I would be against 90hz since it takes a toll on the battery life and offers no practical advantage.
  • Apparently it does for him
  • The case is the same with PC/laptop monitors. I remember opening my surface pro 3 after using my 120hz zephyrus laptop for a while. I thought the surface pro was lagging at first because of how much more pleasing to the eye a higher hz screen is. I understand the author wholeheartedly and decided to wait for the rog 2 as soon as i saw that the note 10 was 60 hz.
  • No more over priced phones, 700 to 1,000 dollars for a phone that costs 150.00 to make is ridiculous.
  • How very ......rudimentary of an understanding you have.....
  • I feel like these writers need a few weeks off. I swear this place is becoming as over dramatic as Phone Arena at this point.
  • Never used one with it, but cant imagine any screen better than the one in my hand, the Note 10+
  • I don't disagree that it is nice but I would rather have a Samsung phone with an all around better display and better brightness and deeper blacks, but that's just me.
  • I refuse to buy a phone without a headphone jack
  • I refuse to buy a phone with a popup camera with no wireless charging no matter the refresh rate. You can tweak settings on Samsung phones to make it faster. Like using settings in the Developers Options adjusting the animations
    I get that it might be difficult to perform such tasks. LOL
  • It's still not the same. Take a look.
  • Funny how the author settles for 90hz just to include his OP7, when there are even smoother phones with 120hz. So clearly, a buttery smooth UI is NOT the priority he makes it out to be. That's always been the problem with Oneplus phones: you always have to settle. Settle for a lower display refresh rate than what's available. Settle for poor battery when using the middling refresh rate. Settle for poor visibility in bright daylight....... And now, you even get to settle for apps dropping support for that refresh rate. Whoopdeedo, you get to enjoy it in the area you're in least of all: the UI. 😏
  • Every phone has those issues. The laws of Physics determine that, not Samsung or OP.
  • I refuse to buy a car without radial tires. Or disk brakes, for that matter.
  • And my guess is that it uses more battery juice too which helps explain the average or below average battery life of this phone. We don't need anymore unnecessary features taxing our batteries.
  • Nothing average about the battery life on the OP 7 Pro. I get 2 days between charges with around 5-6 hours screen time. Mostly playing games too, if I was just browsing I'd get longer. I don't use the 90Hz, I didn't see what the big deal was and turned it to 60Hz.
  • I refuse to buy a (current) flagship phone.
  • I for one had no issue using OnePlus 7 pro and picking up other phones and using them. May be my eyes aren't sharp enough to notice the difference 😂
  • Smartphones are basically OP at this point. When 90Hz displays, smaller bezels, aluminum trim, are 'must have' features it's a wrap, there's really nothing left to talk about on except maybe battery life, and night mode cameras.
  • Bingo.. everything at this point is fluff.
  • Definitely. We have reached the luxury stage of smartphones. Premium prices with features no one has asked for.
  • I refuse to buy another phone over $400 Canadian. No value to be had. Like flushing dollars down the toilet.
  • That's kind of an arbitrary number....
  • I refuse to buy a phone that doesn't have an inherently dimmer screen and poorer battery performance...
  • I refuse to buy a flagship phone. I'm tired of the ridiculous phone bills. I buy cheap phones on sale and use them until they don't work anymore. I paid I think one fifty for my Moto G5 a couple of years ago on one of those Amazon sales days. The camera kind of sucks but I don't really take that many pictures and when I do it's usually for some utilitarian purpose, to deposit a check or see a serial number on the back of something I don't want to move or something like that. I have an IPad I play with if I'm playing. My phone is my phone. It's for calls and texting. Since we started just buying cheap phones, paying for them up front and then activating them at the Verizon store or at home our phone bill has dropped through the floor. I'm paying about one sixty a month for 3 phones with unlimited data and I don't live in a huge market with lots of special wireless deals. I was paying about a hundred more a month when we were getting fancy phones and paying for them in my phone bill. I try to pay one fifty to two hundred per phone getting the latest in something cheap like the Moto G5 or for like my wife's nicer LG with a better camera we just bought a model that was a year or so old. It makes no sense to pay eleven hundred for a phone every year or two. If you just have to have it that's fine, but a cheap phone works fine for calls, texts and emails. I make plenty of money using my cheap phones and I have enough money to retire early and live very comfortably for the rest of my life because I invest money rather than flushing it down the toilet on unnecessary expenses. I don't know the refresh rate of my phone, nor do I care. It works great. I've already brought in a thousand dollars with it today and it's not even 10 am. I couldn't have done better with an eleven hundred dollar phone. I don't really see the point in buying those. If you are paying that much for phones you are probably blowing a lot more on other things you should spend less on and could be putting a few thousand back every year that will turn into a million or more by the time you retire.
  • So....if someone spends a couple hundred more on a phone that'll cut into their retirement and make them poor when they retire?
  • Every little bit adds up, and the difference can be a lot more than a couple of hundred. It could be 900 to a 1000 per phone which really adds up if you are paying for several phones. I pay for three for my family. And if you pay too much for phones odds are there are other things you spend way too much on. If you will pay $1,100 for a phone you're more likely to be someone who spends some crazy amount on things like vehicles. My boss is this way. He blows so much money. He has nothing put back. I make way less than him but have well over two million put back. I had a discussion with him the other day where we were talking about his 1,100 dollar phone compared to my 150 dollar phone and he started talking about all the money he makes using that phone so it must be worth it, which makes no sense at all. He blows money like crazy, is always on the edge of bankruptcy because he is so over-extended, has to have the nicest (most expensive) everything, that house in the Virgin Islands, etc. He lives basically hand to mouth even though he makes great money. He has acquired some property he owes piles of money on and is always refinancing, but has never had any sort of retirement account or had any money in the stock market. Business keeps getting worse because we have a bunch of small town law offices where nobody can afford lawyers anymore and that's not likely to get better because the factories aren't coming back and the gas wells aren't going to get replenished. Things will just get worse and although he owns all the offices and I just run one I'm going to retire before him even though I am a couple of years older and he's going to be working until he dies never getting ahead because he wastes his money on stupid stuff and doesn't invest. My wife and I are careful about every penny we spend though and just keep socking money back. We will retire when I'm 65 and shes 62 and will have plenty of money to travel around the world and live great. We live pretty well now and have a nice house but have zero debt, none, and we save money religiously. We could easily spend everything we make and borrow a lot, but our lives really wouldn't be any better and we wouldn't have millions put back for retirement. It all adds up, hundreds on phones, thousands on vehicles, a few dollars here or there. It's all money that could be invested and doubling several times over the course of decades. If you average 7.2% returns that five grand you put back this year will be ten in ten years and twenty in twenty years and forty grand in thirty years, the old Rule of 72 I learned back in my days as a stockbroker. If you max out any employer sponsored retirement plans and make maximum contributions to IRA accounts you can build up a small fortune with money you could have just blown on things like super expensive phones you replace every year or two, exorbitantly priced vehicles that won't get you from point A to point B any faster than a vehicle that costs thousands less but is still respectable, and that sort of thing. That's all I'm saying. But we all have things we will splurge on because it's worth it to us, a quality of life thing. I just bought a GMC Canyon Denali pickup truck that blows cold air up my butt. It's nice. I got a fantastic deal on it, 36,000 brand new, way below MSRP, but I could have gotten a fine vehicle for ten thousand less that would have lasted me ten years or more. I needed a truck and really liked the extras I got. At least I didn't buy a 90,000 dollar truck like somebody I know. But we all splurge and it just depends on your priorities. I look for where I can save money and mostly just try to get great deals but still maintain I high standard of living and have money to put back for retirement. And if I can't pay cash for it, I don't buy it, not even my house which some accountants would say is stupid but we just hate debt and the mortgage interest deductions aren't that good anymore anyway especially in a place like where I live where houses are cheap compared to big cities and places where the economy is actually doing well.
  • Placebo effect. I bet if two phones were blindly put up to the author he wouldn't be able to tell which, if any, had the 90 Hz screen. I don't think it's noticeable at all on this small of a screen.
  • Maybe it’s possible that some people’s eyes can’t tell the difference, but it’s very noticeable to a lot of people, myself included.
  • For me, the Note 10+ beat the One Plus on two counts: microSD slot and support for Wifi 6 (AX).
  • Just like I refuse to buy and Android phones that isn't a Pixel or Android One phone.
  • No, i think i better have a great Oled display like on Samsung flagships than a good enough one but with a higher refresh rate!
    There is a reason why Samsung doesn’t do it yet, there may be quality compromise to do to have this better refresh rate