Dark mode is one of the most prominent features on mobile devices. Both iOS and Android have the possibility of activating an interface with opaque tones. This feature offers several advantages, such as a different look for apps or better visibility in low-light conditions. The dark mode also serves to save battery life on OLED displays. And by a considerable amount, according to a new study by Purdue University. But only in certain scenarios.
The research team analysed battery consumption using some of the most common apps on Android devices, such as YouTube, the calculator app, Google Maps, Google Calendar and others. Four smartphones with OLED and AMOLED screens were used for the test: Pixel 2, Moto Z3, Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 5.
According to the tests, the OLED display with a low brightness level consumes up to 73% of the total battery capacity of a mobile phone. The same display technology with dark mode applied and maximum brightness is able to reduce this high consumption by up to 67% on some handsets. In general, OLEDs offer greater energy savings because the purest blacks are actually dull pixels.
The results show that it is possible to save between 39% and 47% of battery life with dark mode activated and when the device’s brightness level is set to maximum. The study also reveals that battery savings with the characteristic black tones are lower when the screen is set to a lower brightness. In fact, the smartphones used for one of the tests that maintained a brightness level of around 30% and 50%, managed to save only between 3 and 9% of battery life.
Therefore, the dark mode activated with a brightness level at 100% is able to save more battery compared to a device that has a light mode with a lower brightness level. The results can also be applied to Apple models, as the tests with an iPhone X were very similar.
The dark mode is definitely a great idea for saving battery life. Especially in situations where a higher brightness is required, such as outdoors or other brightly lit environments. Most apps also offer the option of applying a dark interface manually or automatically.