At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this year, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled a pair of new iPad Pro models -- the long-rumored 10.5-inch version as well as an updated 12.9-inch version.
The new tablets include many nice improvements over the previous models, but one of the most interesting upgrades was the move from displays that could only refresh their contents at a rate of 60 times per second (60 Hz) to ones that can update 120 times per second (120 Hz).
On Twitter, user "AAPL Tree" asked followers in a poll if they expect Apple's upcoming iPhone 8 to include these higher refresh-rate displays.
I voted "no." Here's why.
Too much in a single generation
This year, Apple is going to have its hands full as it transitions its premium iPhone model from a proven liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to a display based on organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology.
That's not to say that each new generation of LCDs has been risk-free for the company. Larger, sharper, brighter LCDs with increasingly wide color-space coverage aren't trivial to develop, and the great LCDs found on today's iPhones and iPads are the culmination of many generations of hard research and development work.
Nevertheless, the jump from LCDs to OLEDs might be one of the biggest display-technology transitions, if not the biggest, that Apple has undergone in a single iPhone generation. Apple is going to want to get these new displays just right, and I think trying to handle both the OLED transition and a transition to a high-refresh-rate display in the next iPhone would simply be too risky.
Indeed, Apple's premium iPhone is already expected to be a technological tour de force, incorporating many difficult-to-build cutting-edge technologies. So I think Apple can get away with shipping a "slow" 60 Hz display on the premium iPhone this year.
Sounds like a great idea for the 2018 iPhone
Apple is expected to enjoy a solid product cycle with this year's iPhone lineup. The general expectation seems to be that Apple will enjoy both a year-over-year acceleration in iPhone unit growth and an upward shift in product mix toward the premium OLED-packing iPhone.
I expect that many of the features in this year's premium iPhone will trickle down into the standard-priced models that should launch next year. If that's the case, Apple is going to want to develop exclusive features for a next-generation premium iPhone.
A high-refresh rate OLED display could be a compelling selling point that, when combined with other potential exclusive features, could allow Apple to maintain a relatively rich product mix in the following iPhone product cycle.