Dark Mode on OLED iPhones gives 30% extra battery life than Light Mode

Oct 20, 2019
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A new automated battery life test has shown that Dark Mode in iOS 13 can provide approximately 30% more battery life than Light Mode, on iPhones with OLED displays. The test was done using apps that support iOS 13's native dark mode, as well as Google's apps, which do not support a pure black theme, but a dark gray one.

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Apple introduced dark mode for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, with iOS 13. The feature allows users to switch the operating system theme, as well as supported third-party apps, which utilize Apple's dark mode API.

Battery life in Dark Mode is 30% better than Light Mode on OLED iPhone

The automated test was run by PhoneBuff YouTube channel, using robots. The robots followed a set of predefined tasks which included typing out a message, scrolling in Twitter, using YouTube and Google Maps. Two iPhone XS Max were used for the tests, and both were calibrated to the same amount of brightness which was 200 nits. Each of these tasks was performed on repeat for 2 hours each, and the drop in battery life was recorded.

These were the results in the end:

Dark mode test results OLED iPhone

Even though light mode iPhone was completed drained before the Google Maps test ended, dark mode iPhone still had 30% battery capacity left.

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When you use black color on an OLED screen, it means that the pixel is powered off. This results in improved battery efficiency. This is why the difference between dark and light modes is so huge. Even though Google's apps do not use a black theme, like the rest of apps included in this test, even dark gray color brings battery savings, compared to a light color.

Note that even thought this test shows a 30% battery life improvement, your mileage may vary. The video also goes on to show that the differences in battery life were much smaller when brightness levels of 100 nits and 300 nits were used.

Check out the full test in the video below.

While this test was very interesting, I'm sure that a lot of people would be wondering if dark mode on LCD based iPhones brings any battery life benefits. The answer is no. Apart from a nicer look and feel which is easier on the eyes, dark mode on LCD does not provide any efficiency of the kind that OLED provides.

Do you use dark on your OLED iPhone or Android phone? How is your experience with battery life?

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