One of the big new features of Google’s Android 10 update, which is now live on all Pixel devices and a growing list of other Android phones, is Dark Theme.
It's essentially a dark mode for your whole device that flips the color palette of all menus and nearly every native Google app, including YouTube and Chrome. It also works with some third-party apps such as Instagram and Reddit – expect the list of supported apps to expand over time too.
So why is it a big deal? Given that your screen is your phone’s biggest battery drain, pumping out less light should give you longer between charges. Google claims Dark Theme can “reduce power usage by a significant amount”, depending on the screen tech of the device you’re using.
Google also says Dark Theme improves visibility for users who are sensitive to bright light, or those with low vision. Plus, it’s generally good practice to avoid having a glaring phone screen in low-light conditions and at night, so it might be worth flicking it on in the evening.
Lastly, some people simply prefer a darker look for their phone, and so might opt to have it running all the time.
Dark Theme is only one small part of Android 10, previously referred to as Android Q. The update also adds iOS-like Gesture Navigation, privacy controls, and a Focus Mode that shuts off notifications.
But we're here to show you how to use Dark Theme on your Android device, and if you follow the steps below you'll be able to do that with ease.
Which phones have Android 10 Dark Mode?
- Google Pixel 4 / Pixel 4 XL
- Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a / Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel / Pixel XL
- Essential Phone
- OnePlus 7T
- OnePlus 7T Pro
This list is constantly expanding as more phone companies release Android 10 on their device, so your smartphone could soon have native Dark Theme too. How long will you have to wait, though? Scroll to the bottom of this article for our analysis.
It's also worth remembering that, while only these phones have Android 10 right now, some user interfaces provide alternative Dark Mode imitations that you can use.
How to activate Android 10’s Dark Mode
You have three ways to enable Dark Theme, and we’ll run through them all below, step by step.
Method 1: Change your System Settings
You can enable Dark Theme straight from your system settings. All you need to do is tap the settings icon – it’s the little cog in your pull-down notification bar – then hit ‘Display’.
You’ll see a toggle for Dark Theme: tap to activate it and you've then got it up and running.
Method 2: Quick Settings
If you don’t want to scroll through your settings every time you need Dark Theme, there’s a much quicker option that involves pinning it to your Quick Settings, which are the big tiles that appear when you pull down your notification bar.
To add Dark Theme to your Quick Settings, pull your notification bar all the way down until you see a large grid of tiles. You may need to pull down twice on the notification bar – you want it looking like the picture below. Then, tap the pen icon at the bottom of the drawer
This will open a separate batch of icons you can add to your tiles (click right on the image above to see what this looks like).
Hold and drag the Dark Theme icon into the top folder, alongside your WiFi, Airplane Mode and Battery Saver icons, as shown above (the Dark Theme icon is the one in the top-right). If you drop it near the top of the grid, it will also appear in the slimmer icon bar that appears the first time you drag down your notification bar.
Press the back button to exit. You can now turn on Dark Theme by pulling down the notification bar and tapping the icon.
Method 3 (Pixel phones only): Battery saver mode
On Pixel handsets, selecting Battery Saver mode from the dropdown notification bar automatically enables the Dark Theme.
Bear in mind that you're also activating every other battery saving feature, which means you’re disabling your location and some background processes, so you only really want to use this if you’re low on juice.
Now that you’ve activated Dark Theme, you can enjoy your new look and, potentially, your improved battery life. Dark Theme will automatically apply itself to Google’s native apps, including Gmail, YouTube and Google Photos.
It will also work with a growing number of third-party apps, although some might require an extra step at your end.
For example, in the Reddit app you need to set your ‘Auto Night Mode’ to ‘Follow system’ in the app’s settings menu. If your favorite apps don’t go dark on their own, scroll through their settings to see if you can apply it yourself.
When could my phone have Android 10?
The next phones we're expecting to get Android 10 are those from Samsung, LG, OnePlus and Xiaomi. That's because all these companies had several phones in the Android 10 beta program, and which indicates they're primed for a formal rollout for the upgrade.
Nokia users won't have to wait long either, because Nokia has already announced its Android 10 launch plans. The update is staggered for Nokia phones, so newer handsets will get it soon and older devices may be upgraded in mid-2020.
While we haven't heard anything from Honor, Huawei, Motorola, Sony or Oppo, we'd expect the newest handsets from these companies to be upgraded in mid-2020, judging by the Android 9 rollout speed. Some of these handsets have one or two devices currently in the beta program, but these were added recently, suggestion the full update is still some way away.
Sorry, HTC fans, as the company often takes a long time to update its handsets, so you may be waiting a long time for the update.
Not all phones from these companies will be upgraded, as some are too old, but most phones bought in the last few years will be eligible. In addition, some companies will stagger the rollout, so newer phones will be eligible earlier than older ones.