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iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max’s always-on screen, explained

So, it finally happened. iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have got Always On Display. If you’ve used a modern Android phone, you probably have experience with always-on screens — and don’t need to be convinced why they’re a handy feature — but this is something new in the iPhone world. And Apple, of course, is doing it a little differently than everyone else.

Always-on displays allow basic information such as date, time and notifications to be displayed even when the phone is locked and resting on a table. Normally, your entire display won’t be on, only the most important parts of it. For example, on Google Pixel phones, you may see a black screen with just a clock and some app icons lit up. This is very useful as you don’t need to tap or pick up the phone to see important information.

Apple is changing that formula. Things are a little different (and, perhaps, a lot better) with Apple’s implementation: instead of an always-on screen OffApple’s always-on screen is on, too dim.

The next version of iOS, due out next week, will add widgets and complications to the lock screen. Even when the phone isn’t in active use, all those widgets and issues are visible on the iPhone 14’s always-on screen. Apple’s big twist is that the iPhone will still show your lock screen wallpaper, colors and all, just scaled down significantly. The entire screen is truly “always on”.

iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Maxs always on screen

1662725836 420 iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Maxs always on screen

Apple and image: Apple

But why did Apple wait so long to add this feature? At least one reason is that its always-on screen is waiting on technology that will allow it to perform better than its competitors.

First, Apple waited until the iPhone had an OLED screen, where only the lit pixels needed power, and they were all lit to varying degrees. Whether it’s phones, smartwatches or TVs, OLED displays of all sizes have one thing in common. This makes OLEDs more energy-efficient than other display types, and always-on screens tap into that unique feature to put far less strain on the battery than it would normally in a fully “on” state.

But that’s not the whole picture. While every iPhone 14 model has an OLED screen (many models have since the iPhone X), only the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have additional hardware to power the always-on display. Apple marketing chief Greg Joswiak says the Pro’s always-on display is made possible by “several new technologies that make the display incredibly energy efficient,” including multiple coprocessors in its chipset. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max displays can dynamically adjust their screen refresh rate from a battery-intensive 120Hz to a low-power 1Hz mode, meaning it only refreshes once per second.

Getting even more tech-savvy, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max use a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) screen in its display to dynamically adjust the refresh rate, and “allows the entire display to intelligently dim the lock screen,” Joswiak said. ” Similar technology can be found in the Apple Watch Series 5 and newer (excluding the Apple Watch SE), some Android phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra. This is a fairly new tech for phones and not guaranteed to be something you’ll find on every device.

iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Maxs always on screen

Photo by Allison Johnson/The Verge

Getting always on screen on phone Absolutely LTPO doesn’t have to have a screen (as in 2013’s Moto X, mainstream Android phones have had them for nearly a decade, and even Nokia’s Lumia 925 Windows Phone has a limited version of it). But what the old and new always-on displays have in common is that they’re not as great an experience as the iPhone 14 Pro offers.

We don’t know how much Apple’s always-on feature affects battery life, but previous iterations of its LTPO screen and low-power display driver have produced great battery results, as we saw when we reviewed the Apple Watch Series 5 . My colleague Allison Johnson noted in her Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review that it also uses LTPO tech when in always-on display mode, though the phone’s overall battery life expectancy isn’t great.

The iPhone 14 Pro offers an even bigger jump over the base iPhone model than previous years. While you can usually expect better cameras along with some other unique tricks, the always-on feature is a noticeable and useful change for anyone who sees it in action. Hopefully, Android competitors will find a way to bring colorful, more informative always-on screens to their new phones.

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