Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman said last month that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is "testing next-generation iPhone prototypes that include a dedicated chip for processing artificial intelligence tasks and screens that can display content at a higher frame rate."
Gurman added later in the report that "the faster screens in testing are the same as the ProMotion displays in Apple's latest iPad tablets," citing a person familiar with the upcoming iPhone.
When I reached out to Gurman on social media about whether Apple is planning to add ProMotion displays to just its upcoming premium OLED iPhone or if it plans to include the technology in all three of this year's iPhone models, here's what he said:
Although it wouldn't be terribly surprising for Apple to limit ProMotion to the premium OLED iPhone, I think that if the technology comes to the OLED iPhone, it'll come to the lower-end LCD models, too.
Apple already has the technology
Perhaps the simplest reason is that Apple probably can include the technology on the lower-end iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple is already shipping iPad tablets with ProMotion displays today, and those displays are based on liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, rather than the more advanced organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology that this year's top iPhone will have.
The fact that Apple has gotten the technology to work in the iPad Pro isn't in itself proof that Apple would be able to bring this technology to this year's LCD iPhone models.
I believe it would take a nontrivial amount of elbow grease to scale this technology from a large, higher-power display that only needs to be manufactured in relatively small quantities to a small, low-power display that needs to be manufactured in huge quantities.
However, given that Apple seems to have gotten the technology working for the OLED iPhone (this is likely a much harder engineering feat than scaling the technology from the iPad to the iPhone), it's not out of the realm of reason that Apple successfully scaled the iPad's ProMotion display technology down to iPhone-class displays as well.
It'd be a great selling point
Though much of the focus remains on the premium OLED iPhone, this model is likely going to be quite a bit more expensive than iPhone models have traditionally been.
The LCD iPhone models are expected to be priced roughly in line with the current iPhone 7 models.
Apple still needs to bring worthwhile updates to the more familiar price points (not every iPhone customer can afford, or will be willing to pay, the relatively high price that the OLED iPhone is likely to command), and I think that ProMotion displays would offer dramatic -- and easy-to-sell -- improvements in the user experience compared to all previous iPhone models.
If Apple has the technology ready and can deploy it on the LCD iPhone models, then doing so should help Apple sell more iPhone models throughout the product cycle.