Why You'll Want to Leave This Google Pixel 3 Feature on 24/7

Google has run the tests, and it's confirmed.

Google has run the numbers, and it’s true: darker colors can save battery life on some phones. During the company’s Android Dev Summit in Mountain View, California, this week, the company admitted to an audience of app makers that to bring the best battery life out of smartphones, it’s better to go darker.

The findings will mean that users of the Google Pixel 3 and other devices, which use an AMOLED display, may want to switch on Android Pie’s dark mode by visiting “Settings,” then “Display,” then “Advanced,” then “Device Theme” then “Dark.” Google found that, with the 2016 Google Pixel at maximum brightness, displaying back drew around 50mA of current, blue over 200mA, and white over 300mA. Of course, as engineer Chris Banes noted, “we kind of shot ourselves in the foot slightly in terms of power” as Google pushed developers toward Material Design three years ago with a heavy use of white.

Google Android Dev Summit slide.
Google Android Dev Summit slide.

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The results could mark a sea change for Google. The presentation noted that YouTube’s dark mode has shown big results, drawing four percent less power when screen brightness was at 50 percent and a staggering 43 percent less power with brightness at 100 percent during video playback. When the video is paused, these reductions increase to 14 percent and 60 percent respectively.

However, this may not apply to other phones. Because OLED is capable of switching off individual pixels when not in use, it allows for deeper blacks and power saving. The original Google Pixel displaying Google Maps in normal mode used 250mA of current, dropping 63 percent to 92mA with Night Mode switched on. The iPhone 7, which uses an LCD screen, remained at 230mA in both normal and Night Mode.

This could also pale in comparison to a more old-fashioned method of saving power: turn down the brightness. Banes noted that brightness affects power in a linear fashion, drawing around 350 milliwatts at 50 nits of brightness and rising to nearly 500 milliwatts with 350 nits.

At least when the battery runs out, it’s easy enough to charge.

Media via Google/YouTube