The dark theme is one of the main notable features introduced with the release of iOS 13. It has proven to be so user-friendly that third-party apps and websites have adopted it. You may not have known, but among other things, using dark theme on iPhone can save battery power. How it works?
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Almost all modern smartphones that hit the market after 2017 are equipped with OLED screens based on organic light-emitting diodes). Since this type of screen has no backlightLike LCD screens (liquid crystal) on older phones, a display that is turned on will use less power when displaying dark pixels. OLED technology also enables the creation of ultra-thin, flexible and foldable phone screens.
How much dark mode saves iPhone battery life largely determines the brightness of OLED screens.
For example, when using the screen brightness in the range of 30-50%, the savings in autonomy will be only 5-10%. However, if the iPhone display runs at 100% brightness, then changing the light to dark design will save an impressive 40-45%.
Back in 2019, an interesting study was conducted on the PhoneBuff YouTube channel, which aimed to find out if working with an active dark theme is better for the device’s battery than with a traditional light one.
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 remaining, 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 in stock.
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 effect of dark mode on iPhone battery life is limited to OLED devices. Among them: iPhone X, XS, XS Max, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 12 mini, 13, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, 13 mini, but not 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.