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iPhone 14 Pro always-on display seemingly confirmed by iOS 16 beta

Published Jul 29th, 2022 6:35PM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will support always-on display functionality. At least, that’s what rumors say. And the latest iOS 16 beta release indicates a new behavior for wallpapers that back up reports of always-on display functionality for the iPhone 14 Pro models.

This nifty feature has been available for years on Android devices. And Apple added always-on display functionality to the Apple Watch when it introduced screens with variable refresh rates. The same thing will happen with iPhone 14 Pro displays, which should feature ProMotion screens like their predecessors. But the refresh rate should drop to 1Hz on the 2022 iPhones, compared to 10Hz for the iPhone 13 Pro models.

At 1Hz, Apple can implement always-on display features without too big a sacrifice to battery life.

How always-on displays will work on the iPhone 14 Pro

Rumors that preceded WWDC 2022 said that Apple was working on enabling always-on displays on the iPhone 14 Pro. It’s not necessarily a must-have feature for all iPhone users. But it can be helpful, as it provides quick information at a glance.

Apple then unveiled iOS 16 at WWDC with support for Lock Screen widgets, a crucial software feature to have in anticipation of always-on displays. And as soon as iOS 16 beta 1 arrived, the new operating system’s code revealed built-in support for the always-on display functionality.

iPhone 14 Pro 3D Renders
iPhone 14 Pro 3D renders: New notch design and rear camera. Image source: Technizo Concept and LetsGoDigital

We then learned from a different leak that the always-on display on the iPhone 14 will show Lock Screen widgets just like the Apple Watch. Portions of the screen will stay on at low brightness while in always-on mode. Moreover, Apple will implement privacy protections so that widgets do not show sensitive data that anyone can see.

Apple’s ProMotion screen tech is key to such functionality because always-on display features consume energy. The iPhone 14 Pro phones will reportedly support refresh rates between 1Hz and 120Hz. The iPhone 13 Pro’s ProMotion refresh rate ranges from 10Hz to 120Hz.

Various leaked iPhone 14 specs are not official, however. But the screen rumors make sense. Apple would want to offer the always-on functionality without hindering battery life.

iOS 16 beta 4 reveals new wallpaper behavior

Apple released iOS 16 beta 4 this week, and 9to5Mac discovered new functionality in the code that backs up the always-on display rumors for iPhone 14 Pro models.

The system wallpapers are ready for the functionality because they now feature a “Sleep” state. In this mode, the wallpaper gets darker and some elements fade away. The behavior is similar to what happens with the Apple Watch’s always-on display.

iPhone 14 Pro render: Apple's new display design.
iPhone 14 Pro render: Apple’s new display design. Image source: Front Page Tech

The blog was able to replicate the Sleep mode for system wallpapers. This further supports the idea that Apple is getting closer to launching always-on display support.

All these leaks also explain why other iPhone models won’t support the new feature. Most iPhones have OLED panels with a static 60Hz refresh rate. iPhone 13 Pro models have ProMotion screens that go only to 10Hz. If rumors are correct, Apple only wants the feature on devices that can lower the refresh rate to 1Hz.

Additionally, always-on displays might become another selling point for the more expensive new iPhones this year.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.