galaxy s20 120 hz refresh rate display toggle

Samsung’s flagship smartphones come equipped with some of the latest smartphone display technology. The thing is, most of these features are turned off by default with the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. One of its highly-requested features, the 120Hz display, is set to 60Hz by default but I can show you how to enable it.

I used to be annoyed by the fact that Samsung disabled some of its more advanced features by default. I felt that if the company is advertising a Quad HD display then it should be enabled by default. To me, using those features was the advantage of using the device and didn’t like the hassle of enabling them.

Over time though, I came to realize that this is one of those features that most smartphone customers don’t care about.

The average user will buy the phone because it’s the latest one and their previous contract is up. So they might as well get the newest smartphone from a leading OEM. And for a feature that most people don’t care about, having the hit to battery life isn’t the ideal solution so I can see why these features are not enabled out of the box.

The same is true with the higher refresh rate display so let me show you how it works.

How to Enable 120Hz on the Samsung Galaxy S20?

  1. Open up the Settings application.
  2. Look for and then tap on the “Display” option.
  3. Now tap on the “Motion Smoothness” feature.
  4. Switch the feature from 60Hz to 120Hz.
  5. Then tap on the “Apply” button at the bottom.

So again, by default, the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra have this feature set to the Standard Refresh Rate option (which is 60Hz). It just takes a few seconds to go into the Settings application to switch it though. Once we have chosen the High Refresh Rate option (so its doubled to 120Hz), we can then tap the Apply button.

Making sure you tap the Apply button is important here as failing to do so will revert the change.

Even if you tap on the 120Hz refresh rate option, nothing has been changed with your current setting. It’s not until you tap the Apply button that the Settings app will go back to the Display section. You’ll then know this is option has now been switched and you’ll be using the Galaxy S20 120Hz display.

What’s the Difference Between 60Hz and 120Hz?

For those who are not aware, the Refresh Rate of a display is how many times the screen “refreshes.” This doesn’t mean anything if you’re just viewing a still image or text on a website/in an application. It’s really just animated things that are affected by the display’s refresh rate.

The UFO Refresh Rate test is very popular and gives you a visual idea of the differences.

Whether you view it on the desktop or a smartphone, the result is the same. The 15 Frames Per Second (FPS) animated UFO appears to “stutter” or “lag behind” a bit from the faster, 30 FPS UFO. Most people don’t tend to see a stutter when comparing the 60 FPS UFO To the 30 FPS one, but the animation is smoother the higher your refresh rate is.

The same concept happens with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Ultra, and Galaxy S20+. Samsung is even giving us their own demonstration of the visual differences when we dive into the Motion Smoothness option here.

graph showing battery usage of the galaxy s20 with the higher refresh rate display
Source: AnandTech

How Much Extra Battery Will the 120Hz Refresh Rate Option Use?

I haven’t personally had enough time with the Galaxy S20 yet but others have done some preliminary tests. The folks over at AnandTech have done some analysis with the 60Hz refresh rate feature and compared it to the 120Hz option. During its Web Browsing test, they noticed a 20% drop in battery life with the higher refresh rate enabled.

This isn’t promising results at all but they do make a lot of sense.

Granted, this is just one battery life test (the web browsing portion) and it does not reflect everyday usage. This means that your results may vary. You may end up only seeing a 5% or 10% drop in overall battery life while others may see this reach as high as 25% or 30%. I can’t recommend enough that you do your own tests.

Not only that but do your own tests over an extended period of time. I would say, collect some simple battery life data such as battery percentage at the start of the day, when you come home, and then at the end of the day. Take note of this and do it for about a week. Then switch over to the 120Hz feature.

Continue to collect the same data points across the same amount of time.

If you’re ending your day with 25% battery or higher (and always charge the phone overnight) then enabling the higher 120Hz refresh rate display on the Samsung Galaxy S20 isn’t likely to negatively affect you. If you’re used to a 2-day battery or are trying to extend it as much as possible, then maybe the feature isn’t for you.


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