iOS 10.3 code hints at faster refresh rate for 10.5-inch iPad Pro

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The new iPad Pro could have an even greater display.
The new iPad Pro could have an even greater display.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s next-generation iPad Pro could deliver a faster display refresh rate, if you believe a clue hidden in the latest iOS beta.

Code from the latest developer build of iOS 10.3 hints at the ability to reduce an iPad’s refresh rate to 60Hz from a higher default setting.

Apple’s existing iPad lineup offers 60Hz screens, which are capable of displaying up to 60 frames per second. That’s enough in most cases, but there are times when faster refresh rates are better — like when playing games (especially in VR) or using Apple Pencil.

Last August, Bloomberg reported that Apple was working on deeper stylus integration for its next iPad lineup, with “wider operating-system support” for Apple Pencil.

“Apple has considered allowing users to annotate objects in many applications across the whole operating system, including in Mail, the Safari web browser, and iMessage, similar to what Samsung Electronics Co. offers on its Note smartphones,” reads the report.

To enhance this, sources claimed the company would adopt faster display technology that “allows for smoother zooming, panning and scrolling.” Now evidence of this change has been found in iOS 10.3 beta code by developer Steve Troughton-Smith.

The code hints at several different display modes that developers will be able to take advantage of, including 60 fps, 30 fps and the “default.” This suggests that the default will not be one of those options, and will therefore be higher than 60Hz.

“When the OS starts to include explicit references that line up with months-old rumor reporting, that leaves little room for doubt,” Troughton-Smith adds in a later tweet.

It seems like a faster refresh rate could be the next step for improved iPad displays. It’s likely the revamped 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which is expected to launch later this year with a new design featuring a larger screen and slimmer bezels, will be the first to benefit from the boosted refresh rate.