As per the latest study revelations, dark mode doesn’t necessarily save much battery life. But there are a few alternate ways that users can opt for optimum advantage of the feature, as stated by the researchers.
Initially when both Android and Apple operating system updates availed their users with the alternative to switch to dark mode, it enabled saving the battery life of newer phones with screens when compared to darker-coloured pixels with brighter-coloured pixels.
But as per the latest study conducted by Purdue University researchers, dark mode won’t make a huge difference to battery life pertaining to its usage by most people on a daily basis.
It doesn’t mean that dark mode won’t be helpful, any further.
Charlie Hu, Purdue’s Michael and Katherine Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering said that “When the industry rushed to adopt dark mode, it didn’t have the tools yet to accurately measure power draw by the pixels,” “But now we’re able to give developers the tools they need to give users more energy-efficient apps.”
Based on their findings, the researchers clarify the facts about the effects of dark mode on battery life and recommend ways that users can already take better advantage of the feature’s power savings.
The study was focused on six of the most-downloaded apps on Google Play, which includes Google Maps, Google News, Google Phone, Google Calendar, YouTube and Calculator. The researchers studied the effect of dark mode for 1 minute (60 seconds) within each of these apps on the Pixel 2, Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 and Moto Z3 smartphones.
Hu’s team did a study on only Android apps and phones, but it is believed that their findings might have similar implications for Apple phones, specifically initiating with iPhone X. This team of researchers recently showcased their work at MobiSys 2021, a conference by the Association for Computing Machinery.
Hu notified that; the amount of battery life saved by a dark mode is directly connected to the brightness of OLED screens. The software tools developed by him & his teams are based on new patent-pending power modelling technology which was invented by them to more accurately estimate the power draw of OLED phone displays.
When indoors, many people prefer to use their phone’s default auto-brightness setting, which keeps brightness levels around 30%-40%. Purdue researchers’ studies show that when switched to 30%-50% brightness, from light mode to dark mode, the battery life saved is only 3%-9% on average for several different OLED smartphones. This percentage being so minimum fails to come under notice of most users. But when switching from light mode to dark mode, the higher the brightness, the higher the energy saving.
The Purdue study reported that when a user switches from light mode to dark mode at 100% brightness saves an average of 39%-47% battery power.
Hu and his team have successfully developed a tool that allows app developers to determine the energy savings of a certain activity in dark mode. The tool named a Per-Frame OLED Power Profiler (PFOP), is based on the more accurate OLED power model. The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization has even applied for a patent on this power modelling technology.
Both Android and Apple phones are equipped with a feature to notice how much battery power each individual app is consuming. Users can access this feature in the settings of Android and Apple phones. But Hu and Dash found that Android’s current “Battery” feature is unable to calculate the impact of dark mode on power consumption.
Hu’s team created a more accurate and reliable way to calculate battery consumption by the app for Android, this new tool called Android Battery+, takes into account the effects of dark mode on battery life and is expected to become available to platform vendors and app developers in the coming year.