Upgrading smartphones bring with them newer features – some user-friendly, other technically progressive. Recently, almost all newer phones and operating systems feature ‘dark mode’ that flip the black and whites of your phone screen. This caught the eyes of many users since Apple officially introduced it in the recent iOS update.
The Dark mode initially gained popularity on its claims to be healthier for the user. It is known to be easier on the eyes while using a smartphone at night or in a dimly-lit environment. However, recent tests and user reviews have revealed that the dark mode also saves our phones ample battery life compared to the light mode.
PhoneBuff put the iPhone 11 Pro Max through its paces with the help of a robotic arm, mapping out the same actions in the same apps – once in the normal iOS ‘light’ mode, and once in the new dark mode alternative offered by iOS 13. After two hours, the dark mode test was showing 88% battery life left, while the battery on the light mode test had dropped to 83%. That’s quite a substantial difference over such a short span of time.
After another two hours of Twitter scrolling (we’ve all been there), the dark mode phone was on 72% (down 16%) and the light mode phone was on 57% (down 26%). Besides this the robots then followed this with constant iMessaging, YouTube streaming, and Google Maps navigation. All four of these apps feature officially implemented Dark Mode settings.
Almost immediately, the difference becomes apparent in the video, and it only gets more stark – until the Light Mode phone dies after about seven and a half hours of screen-on time, leaving the Dark Mode phone with 30% of its battery life.
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You can see the full test in the video below.
Dark Mode isn’t the only Savior
Our phones don’t only drain their batteries through phone displays. For optimum battery savings using dark mode, some other factors should be taken into account:
- Most phone users will likely have automatic brightness adjustment enabled, and automated lab use will never directly mirror real-world use.
- The phone also has to be an OLED phone like the iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 3 or 4, Galaxy S10, or OnePlus 7.
- Phones with standard LCD screens are lit from the edges, while OLED screens are lit pixel-by-pixel. That means that a true black screen as seen in better Dark Mode implementations is simply leaving many of those pixels off.
- Your mileage may of course vary, depending on the apps you’re using and the make and model of your phone
So, if you do have a smartphone with an OLED display, you can expect better battery life with the Dark mode enabled. An LCD panel does not show a huge difference as the backlight still stays on at all times resulting in similar battery drain irrespective of Dark mode. iOS 13, in particular, seems to have a massive impact on the battery life of the newer iPhones, with the iPhone XS showing as much as a 30 percent improvement in battery life.