Tests show dark mode really can save battery life on your OLED iPhone

dark mode
(Image credit: Future)

One of the main supposed benefits of any dark mode – besides easing the strain on your eyes late at night – is saving you some precious battery life. Now it looks like we might have the real world testing to back that claim up.

PhoneBuff put the iPhone 11 Pro Max through its paces with the help of a robotic arm, mapping out the same actions in the same apps – once in the normal iOS 'light' mode, and once in the new dark mode alternative offered by iOS 13.

After two hours, the dark mode test was showing 88% battery life left, while the battery on the light mode test had dropped to 83%. That's quite a substantial difference over just two hours.

After another two hours of Twitter scrolling (we've all been there), the dark mode phone was on 72% (down 16%) and the light mode phone was on 57% (down 26%). You can see the full test in the video below.

YouTube was the app of choice for the next two hours, causing a 29% drop on dark mode (down to 43%), and a 37% drop on light mode (down to 20%). Two hours of Google Maps later, and the light mode phone had died, while the dark mode phone still had 26% of its charge left.

A comprehensive battery life win for dark mode then, and something to think about when you're wondering whether to enable dark mode in your apps, or on iOS or Android as a whole.

The differences should be most pronounced on handsets with OLED displays, like the iPhone 11 Pro Max – black pixels are turned off completely on OLED screens, whereas on LCD panels they're still backlit (just to a very low level).

Your mileage may of course vary, depending on the apps you're using and the make and model of your phone – and remember that a host of other factors are also at play when it comes to battery life, like the screen brightness you're using.

Via Engadget

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.