The dark theme is one of the main notable features introduced with the release of iOS 13. It has proven so easy to use that third-party apps and websites have adopted it. On the YouTube channel PhoneBuff, an interesting study was carried out, which aimed to find out how much better working with an active dark theme for the device’s battery than with a traditional light one.
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The iPhone XS was used as a test device. On this smartphone, robotic arms performed various tasks in iOS in light and dark mode. Used the Messaging app, navigate Google Maps, watch YouTube videos, and more.
The final result was really surprising. PhoneBuff tests showed that the iPhone XS using dark mode drained the battery much more slowly than the same phone with a light theme. On both smartphones, the brightness was set at 70% or 200 nits. After two hours in Messages, the iPhone XS with the dark theme had 88% battery power, while the smartphone with the light theme had 83%. As a result, the iPhone XS with a light theme was the first to be discharged, while its brother had another 30% charge left.
The graphs show that the iPhone with the light theme was the most drained when using Twitter and YouTube. There are some differences in consumption scenarios with higher or lower brightness, but always the dark mode turned out to be more economical.
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On which iPhone models does the dark theme save battery power?
An important detail is that the impact of dark mode on iPhone battery life only applies to OLED devices. These include the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, but not the iPhone XR or iPhone 11.
Other older models with an IPS screen will not have a significant difference in consumption between dark and light modes – the backlight always works, regardless of the system theme.