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Google confirms dark mode is a huge help for battery life on Android

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So why are the company’s own apps so heavy on white?

Android Pie’s multitasking menu on the Google Pixel 3 XL Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

We’ve known for a long time that dark mode / night mode apps can prolong battery life on smartphones with OLED screens. It’s true on Android, and it’s true with the iPhone. This is because the individual pixels have to do less work on dark areas of the screen, and they use practically no juice at all when displaying true black. As SlashGear picked up on, Google reiterated this during its Android Dev Summit this week, showing several slides that compare the power draw of several different colors. (The company used its original Pixel smartphone for these data points.)

You can see that white far and away uses up the most power. This led Google to acknowledge that the prominence of white across its own apps and within Android’s style guidelines is, well, less than ideal. It’s everywhere, and that’s not changing with Google’s revamped Material Design.

Fortunately, the company seems to recognize the value of dark mode. YouTube and Android Messages already have it, and Google is also bringing the feature to its Phone app and testing it in the mobile Google Feed. Android can also be set to a dark theme for the quick settings pulldown and app drawer, but Google hasn’t yet gone as far as adding a system-wide night mode. (That’s something Samsung plans to do with its new One UI.)

As an example of dark mode coming to your battery’s rescue, just look at the huge difference below, where the Pixel is set to 100 percent brightness. The power savings of dark mode are evident. I tend to stick to the traditional look of these apps most often, as I find white text on black a little harsh on my eyes, but it’s nice to see that Google is recognizing the value of easing up on all the white. Make it a choice wherever it makes sense.