iOS 13's Dark Mode Extends OLED iPhone Battery Life, Test Confirms

When Dark Mode was marketed as a headline feature in iOS 13, Apple promoted it as an alternative new look that was easier on the eyes when viewed in dark environments. Oddly though, Apple never mentioned that it also potentially offers energy-saving benefits – particularly for OLED iPhones, since pixels on an OLED panel are individually powered and true black pixels remain inactive.


That potential battery saving has now been put to the test. In an experiment shared on YouTube, PhoneBuff used robotic arms to interact with two fully charged iPhones running iOS 13, with one running in ‌Dark Mode‌ and the other in Light mode. The robots worked their way through various native and third-party apps, all of which support both iOS display modes, until the iPhones died.

The results are pretty conclusive: The test found that an iPhone XS Max using ‌Dark Mode‌ uses up significantly less battery than an ‌iPhone‌ XS Max using Light Mode. When the Light Mode-enabled ‌iPhone‌ XS Max died, the ‌Dark Mode‌ ‌iPhone‌ XS Max still had 30 percent battery life remaining.

dark mode battery savings
PhoneBuff notes one important variable in his test that conditioned the results: The iPhones both had their displays set to 200 nits brightness. At 100 nits, which is what you'd expect indoors, two hours on Twitter saved just 5 percent more battery in ‌Dark Mode‌. The same test performed at 300 nits, which is closer to outdoors use, saw ‌Dark Mode‌ save 12 percent battery.

Either way, the test appears to prove that ‌Dark Mode‌ is a significant battery saver for OLED iPhones, which include the ‌iPhone‌ X, ‌iPhone‌ XS, and ‌iPhone‌ 11 Pro, but not the ‌iPhone‌ XR or ‌iPhone‌ 11. You can watch the video embedded above for the full lowdown.

Related Forums: iOS 13, iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

iKrivetko Avatar
60 months ago
Well, duh.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deeddawg Avatar
60 months ago
So wait, you're saying that when you use less power the battery will last longer?

Mindblowing.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
edgonzalez32 Avatar
60 months ago
Everyone is throwing their sarcasm around, but before this was officially released there was a ton of discussion that users wouldn't even notice a change in battery life.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmilo Avatar
60 months ago
Why didn’t he use the same device tho ... as in two XS Max or two XS.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ishayu Avatar
60 months ago

Would Dark Mode also help in a Mabbook Pro laptop?
No, it wouldn't actually!

Here's why:
The MacBook Pro uses an LCD display. LCD displays work by back-lighting the entire screen uniformly, then shining that through some crystals that poralise the light such that it either can or cannot come through.

Thus, regardless of the colour presented, you get the same amount of battery drain.

However, turning down the screen brightness does save power, but that also diminishes the whites. (which may or may not be a good thing)

OLED screens emit the light they need to emit per pixel. There is no backlight. Therefore a black pixel uses less power than a white one, because it requires more power to make more light.

==================================

lol @ all the people saying "well, duh". Just because it seems obvious doesn't mean it isn't worth investigating and confirming.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pearple Avatar
60 months ago
Apple will introduce the new "Superdark Mode".

In Superdark Mode, the screen will be all black, deep black, no matter what the user does. It effectively extends battery time by more than 10 hours.

Superdark Mode will be controlled remotely by the Chinese government and is expected to be introduced this Christmas to iPhone Users in Honk Kong, Macau and Mainland China.

Superdark Mode will be available in the US and several other countries next year.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)