Leaked Photos Reveal iPhone 12 Pro Max 120Hz ProMotion Display, LiDAR Camera Settings

iPhone 12 Pro Max High Refresh Rate Setting1 Credit: EverythingApplePro / Twitter
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While there’s still some uncertainty over whether any of this year’s iPhone models will be getting a bump to a faster 120Hz “ProMotion” display, a new series of leaks around the “iPhone 12 Pro Max” provide solid evidence that Apple has at least been testing the new display technology.

A series of images were shared on Twitter late yesterday by leakers Jon Prosser and Max Winebach (via EverythingApplePro), purporting to show the camera and display settings screens for a “PVT” model of the 6.7-inch “iPhone 12 Pro Max” — images which revealed several new settings that have been introduced to support new hardware features.

While Prosser’s tweet shares direct screenshot images, Weinbach adds actual photos of an “actual iPhone 12 Pro Max” which not only shows the new display Settings screen, but also illustrates that, contrary to prior reports, the notch size isn’t going to change — at least not for the 6.7-inch version — although Weinbach does note that the slightly increased size does give room for an AM/PM beside the time, shown below.

Notably, the Display settings prominently show an option to Enable High Refresh Rate and Enable Adaptive Refresh Rate, although both of these are accompanied by text that clearly indicates that they’re there for testing purposes, and are not necessarily intended to be consumer-facing options, advising the operator to “please check if your PVT model supports high refresh rate” following by the warning that “attempting to enable high refresh rate on unsupported hardware may provoke unexpected behaviour.”

PVT stands for “Production Validation Testing” and is an acronym used to refer to final prototype units that are used for testing prior to beginning mass production.

To be clear, these two switches may not appear in the same way in the final consumer-facing version of the iPhone; the iPad Pro has supported the higher-refresh 120Hz display technology since 2017, however the setting to disable it is instead buried in the Accessibility settings rather than being prominently placed in the Display section.

Regardless, however, the existence of these two switches on a PVT unit confirms that Apple has been planning to add the rumoured ProMotion display technology to at least some of this year’s iPhones, quelling some of the earlier reports that Apple hasn’t been pursuing the technology at all this year.

That said, the faster display tech still may not arrive until 2021 for reasons that are largely outside of Apple’s control. A report earlier this week indicated that even though Apple has the screens in place, it may be having problems sourcing the necessary chips that would be required to drive the 120Hz displays. This has led to some speculation as to whether the company would abandon its plans and ship this year’s iPhones with only the standard 60Hz display technology or wait until more components become available.

It’s also possible that it could choose to limit the faster display to fewer iPhone models, such as perhaps only bringing it to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but this seems far less likely, as it would be an unusual split between the two “Pro” models, and the standard iPhone 12 units were never expected to get the faster display technology in the first place.

Camera Features

In addition to the new display features, Prosser also shares an image of the camera settings screen that allegedly came from an iPhone 12 Max, showing settings for the much-rumoured LiDAR Scanner that’s expected to come to the two Pro iPhone models this year.

Although Apple introduced the LiDAR Scanner on the 2020 iPad Pro, on the larger tablet it’s been largely confined to augmented reality applications. With the iPhone 12 Pro, however, Apple appears to be getting more ambitious in using it for various photography features, which not surprisingly includes things like assisted autofocus and subject detection for video recording, but also helping to improve Apple’s Night Mode photography features.

From the settings, it also looks like the new iPhone models will be able to handle 4K video recording at higher frame rates — 120fps and 240fps.

There’s also an “Enhanced Night Mode” setting that suggests it will be possible to use extended exposure times with steady surfaces, although again it’s unclear if this is just a testing switch for something that may simply be built into the iPhone automatically for end users.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the text on these screens suggests that only some PVT units are equipped with these features, so Apple engineers be testing units both with and without the 120Hz ProMotion displays and “hardware-specific camera features,” and it’s therefore still not clear what Apple could actually decide to ship.

‘Adapter Sold Separately’

Meanwhile, another series of images shared by EverythingApplePro seems to confirm the rumours that we’ve been hearing that this year’s iPhone models — even the iPhone 12 Pro Max — will no longer include a charger.

It’s less clear where these screenshots have come from, although they appear to be from drafts of Apple’s product spec pages.

We had previously heard that Apple was working on a new 20-watt fast charger, and while many originally believed it was going to ship with the new iPhone 12 Pro models, replacing the 18-watt USB-C charger that Apple included with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max last year, later reports suggested that Apple was eliminating both the charger and the earphones from this year’s models.

Reading between the lines, however, it’s possible that Apple has simply decided to exclude this new fast charger from the packaging, since the references that Weinbach shows very specifically refer to a “20W adapter” and “fast-charge capable adapter” — they don’t say that anything about the iPhone not including a charger at all.

This suggests that Apple could actually go back to simply packing in the same 5-watt charger that it’s been bundling with virtually every iPhone model since 2010.

Last year’s iPhone 11 Pro models were an exception — the first and only iPhones ever sold with an 18-watt USB-C adapter — and even the standard iPhone 11 sold alongside them still only packed in the older standard adapter, despite the fact that the iPhone 11 and every other iPhone released since 2017 has supported the same fast-charging standard.

If true, this means that users won’t have to worry about being left high and dry with no means to charge their new iPhone, but those who actually want fast charging capabilities will simply have to purchase the 20-watt adapter separately.

It’s also quite possible Apple’s plans in this regard have gone back and forth. The company recently sent out a survey to at least some customers looking for feedback on how people typically use their iPhone chargers, so it’s possible that it determined that fast charging isn’t a priority for many folks.

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