Does dark mode really save your smartphone’s battery?
Image credit: Facebook

Does dark mode really save your smartphone’s battery?

Nowadays smartphones have become really smart. However, the Artificial Intelligence(AI) doesn’t adopt the smartphone’s regime entirely yet, but as of now it is in its infancy stage and will require a lot of time to evolve it. But a very useful and important feature in a smartphone has implemented finally i. e. dark mode. There is a lot of buzz of it around the technology universe that it reduces the power consumption of your smartphone a lot but the real question is, does the dark mode really save your smartphone’s battery or it is just a buzz? Let’s find out the answer to this question in this article. So without any further ado, let’s get started.

What is Dark Mode?

The dark mode is an exclusive feature that gives you the power to switch the color theme of an app, or an entire operating system (OS), to black or something close to it. Most of the smartphone users prefer to have it because it makes looking at the devices eye soothing.

These days, you can find official support for dark mode; Google just added a system-wide dark mode to its third beta of Android Q, and Apple also have announced to bring it in iOS. Other popular custom skins such as MIUI also announced to bring it natively in MIUI-11. The dark mode is also available in several popular apps like Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Google Chrome, etc.

Google has now committed to bringing it to every major Android app it produces. But the real question is still the same that does it have any advantage over the bright white display or it is just a fancy feature. Well, let’s find out.

Dark mode in Facebook Messenger. Image credit: Facebook

The screen panels

Smartphone’s display is the main thing a user seeks when buying a new mobile device. Also, the screen panels are mainly responsible for the power consumption of any electronic gadget. This is because the screen panels interact with the software and display everything it processed.

However, the display screen has evolved quite a lot and today humans have reached the milestone of making flexible screens. There are mainly two types of display used in mobile phones. Let’s have a look.

TFT LCD (Thin Film Transistor)

TFT LCDs display are supposedly the most common type of display units found in mobile devices. It gives you good image quality and higher resolutions compared to earlier generation LCD displays.

IPS (In Panel Switching) LCD panels are the next iteration of TFT LCD displays providing wider viewing angles and lower power consumption which leads to much-improved battery life.

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)

This happens to be the newest technology for display panels. Organic material is used in the construction of these panels.

AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode)

AMOLED panels are a different type of OLED displays for mobiles and are fast gaining popularity in the top end smartphone segment. These screens can show us many things that we are present on OLED display like brilliant color reproduction, lightweight, good battery life, proper brightness, etc.

Super AMOLED displays

Super AMOLED displays are primarily developed by Samsung. It is constructed with touch sensors placed on the display itself, as opposed to creating a separate touch sensitive layer (as in capacitive touch screen). This makes it the thinnest display technology on the market.

Note: Super AMOLED displays are currently only present in Samsung devices but more phones could use the technology in the future.

Construction and mechanism of the display panels

LCD panels

There are four main layers to an LCD panel: the outer protective layer, the polarizing layer (or layers), the liquid crystal layer and the backlight. The outer protective layer is basically there to protect the other components from getting damaged, and it’s usually made of clear plastic or glass. The polarizing layers help the crystal layer deliver the correct light, or no light when off or black, to your eyes.

The most important part is the liquid crystal layer, which controls the colors passed through it and ultimately the picture displayed. When an electrical current is passed through the crystalline layer, liquid crystal cells coupled with filters of Red, Blue and Green colors of light, corresponding to the subpixels in the display, “twist” to let backlight through at different intensities. The crystals filter the neutral backlight into certain color intensities, and combined with neighboring crystals of different colors, the full range of millions of colors is created.

A basic diagram of a TFT LCD panel. Image credit: TEAC

The backlighting layer is almost always LED backlight, and while there are different types of LED backlighting the one used almost always is white LED backlighting. This is where thin and solid white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are placed behind the liquid crystal layer to provide a base light for the crystals to modify. RGB LED backlighting also exists which allows for better color reproduction, but this is more expensive and seldom used in smartphones.

AMOLED panels

Construction of AMOLED displays is much simpler. You will find an organic material which is placed between two conducting sheets (an anode and a cathode), which are also put between a glass top plate (seal) and a glass bottom plate (substrate). The time an electric pulse passes or is applied between the two conducting sheets, electroluminescent light is produced directly from the organic material sandwiched between the conducting sheets.

A diagram of an AMOLED panel. Image credit: Wikimedia

As the diodes themselves emit light, they don’t require any sort of backlight for the filtering of colors. This helps not only save power, but it also slims down the display considerably, which is a bonus for phones that are pushing to be the slimmest on the market. Furthermore, the lack of a persistent backlight allows high contrast ratios, because to display black the organic diodes simply switch off and show nothing.

The conclusion

Above is the precise and short description of the construction and working of the LCD and AMOLED panels. You can now logically understand and clearly pick which display panels are battery efficient and which are not. Because in the AMOLED panels when it displays black color that means there is no light emitted through LED because LEDs are off within the black area and only those LEDs require power which displays the color other than black. In dark mode, the maximum area of the panel displays black i.e. mostly LEDs are actually switched off most of the time so less power is consumed by the battery.

Whereas, in the LCD panels the light filters through the polarised filter to display color that means when the panel displays black color or any other color, in actual the backlight panel illuminated completely, and the colors are displayed through the color filters. So, LEDs don’t switch off in the black area at all.

That means, in the dark mode, there is no significance of saving battery in LCD panels whereas in AMOLED panels it matters a lot. But dark mode does a lot related to health i.e it reduces the strain on eyes no matter which panel you use. I think this is the most likely reason to bring it in most of the applications and in the OS natively.

Obviously, there are pros and cons of both the display panels, but I’m not gonna discuss it in this article. So from now on when you go to buy any smartphone, consider this before buying because it is related to your health, and health should be your first priority.

So that’s it for today guys. Did you enjoy reading this article? If so, then please share it. If you have any suggestions and queries related to the post, let me know in the comment section below. Please do like and share this post to your near and dear ones to explore the knowledge you must know.

Thank you.

Anil Kashyap

I want to explore new things every single moment of life. Life motto: Learn and teach as much as you can until your last breath.

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