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How pure black wallpaper can save your Android phone's battery

Kris Carlon
20

In the smartphone market, the majority of displays are either AMOLED or LCD, but many people don't know that the wallpaper color you choose - yes, wallpaper - can actually make a difference to your smartphone battery life. Pure black wallpaper, or a dark-colored background in general, can actually save you a significant amount of battery life.

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Get more battery life out of your AMOLED smartphone with black wallpapers. © ANDROIDPIT

First off, we need a quick bit of display technology information. I won't go into too much detail, but if you want to know more (and which one is better for what) then you can check out our explanation of the major difference between LCD, AMOLED and Retina displays. If you just want the black wallpaper, skip to the bottom of the article.

Display tech explained: LCD

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display and it's the same kind of technology you'll find in your televisions, monitors and so on. As the name suggests, Liquid Crystal Displays are actually crystals, and as such, they don't emit light of their own but rather transmit light from a light source behind them.

This means that even if you're looking at black on your smartphone or tablet screen, it is actually black lit up from behind. Therefore, LCDs don't really display "true" black. The Nexus 5 has an LCD, as does the LG G3 and the Xperia Z3.

LCDs are also quite power hungry as every pixel needs to be illuminated all the time.

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Both the Xperia Z3 (left) and LG G3 (right) use LCD displays. © ANDROIDPIT

Display tech explained: AMOLED and OLED

Next, AMOLED. AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode and it is also used for televisions screens but more notably, for smartphones. OLED displays are similar, but do not use an Active Matrix.

Samsung displays, for example, are usually AMOLED: the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 4 all use an AMOLED display. The LG G Flex 2 uses a Plastic OLED display and the Google Nexus 6 also uses an AMOLED screen.

As the name implies, the screen is made up of organic material that actually produces light when a current is passed through it – electroluminescence. Because AMOLED displays can be lit up pixel by pixel like on the Moto X, black is "true" black because there is no back-lighting.

This also means AMOLED displays are easier on your battery because every pixel is not always lit up.

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Nice bright wallpapers may look lovely, but they drain the power supply. / © AndroidPIT

Battery life: AMOLED vs LCD

AMOLED

You can probably see where this is going: if you have an AMOLED display then you can actually save some battery life by using black wallpapers, or generally darker wallpapers and themes.

Our friends at XDA Developers did a little experiment and figured out that you can save about 6% battery life/hour at 20% brightness by using a black wallpaper on an AMOLED display, and about 8%/hour at full brightness.

These results are based on an always-on screen, but the basic theory is sound even if the figures are not exactly set in stone. Another tester using a different method came up with a general 18% saving all day.

LCD

What about LCD battery saving wallpaper, I hear you ask? Sorry, LCDs rely on back-lighting, so there's nothing you can do to save battery there.

The only thing you can do is set your device settings to Battery Saver mode and try not to turn your screen on all the time. Keep your display brightness as low as possible and your screen timeout nice and short.

The good news is you can have the brightest colored wallpaper and themes imaginable and it won't make a difference to your battery. Just think about that when you look at the gloomy screens of AMOLED owners clinging to extended battery life (just don't stray too far from a charger while you gloat).

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It may not seem exciting, but it looks cool. And it doesn't have to be pure black, just dark. / © AndroidPIT

Other battery life tips for AMOLED screens

There are other things AMOLED owners can do to maximize their battery life too, like setting as many app themes to be as dark as possible.

If you can change the appearance of a bunch of apps you use frequently (or download a different app that does the same thing but that does allow appearance customization), you can save even more battery life.

After all, we don't spend all day on our home screens but more time in apps. You can also set your text and email preferences to be black background and white text, depending on your device and chosen apps.

The easiest way to figure it out for yourself is to fully charge your device as is and wait until it's almost totally dead and look at how much of your battery was used by the display. Just go into your Settings menu and look under Device Settings for Battery.

Make a note of the percentage your display has used up, then, while recharging your phone, switch to a black wallpaper and repeat the cycle to see the difference.

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You can also set screen brightness, modify app appearance and use battery saving mode. / © AndroidPIT

Give me black wallpaper now

To download a straight black wallpaper for your smartphone background, hit the link here, and don't forget to change your app themes to be as dark as possible to enhance the battery saving effects.

You can also set a system-wide darker theme for your device, change your screen timeout setting to be as short as possible, enable power saving mode, turn off auto-brightness and see how great the battery savings are.

Of course, your battery is used by more than just display, so results will be dependent on your phone usage habits, processor and other variables, but it is still going to save you something worth saving.

Did these black wallpaper tips save you some battery life? Do you have any other tips for conserving battery life?

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Comments

Write new comment:
  • jeff 1 month ago Link

    it would be cool if you guys done a black theme for this app

    1
  • Stuart Male 1 month ago Link

    Sorry I know this goes against everything here but the s5 has a great looking screen with great graphics. Why would I want to waste that on a black background and dark themed apps? I know it will save battery but if I didn't want to see the great graphics etc I may as well have gotten an s1 or an iphoney. Just my thoughts sorry. Great article though.

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  • GT Ohh 1 month ago Link

    And why did Lolly Poop change all the screens from nice battery saving black to a power hungry white theme again?

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  • durga syn 1 month ago Link

    yeah, and the worst is that they are the creators/most ardent believers in the amoled technologie.
    i mean it's like they just forgot what they designed works O_o

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  • Lee 2 months ago Link

    Yep and Samsung have added the WHITE lollipop background to settings and in other places throughout there phones 😕 well done Samsung well done 👏👏👏 Samsung need to read this and take notes 📝😊

    1
  • A.F.Kmail Sep 13, 2013 Link

    I have downloaded a 3rd party app which let me stop some applications to start up at boot time .. that saved me a lot of memory and battery life on my note 2 in addition when its night time and have dimmed room , just start an application which decreases the light from phone screen .. which helped a lot

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    • Amanoop Jac 1 month ago Link

      I was really searching for such app... Can u name that app pls

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  • Kris Carlon
    • Admin
    • Staff
    Sep 10, 2013 Link

    Agreed, the number of times I've had my phone turn on by accident on planes is disturbing (I'm a stickler for aviation safety), now I just take the battery out.

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    • Jaques Connard 3 weeks ago Link

      Mobile phones have no effect on airplanes. This is an airline falsehood.

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  • Northernbaygirl Sep 9, 2013 Link

    The potential for replacing a battery (also being able to flip the battery out if your device freezes) is why I dislike the idea of phones with a non removable battery.

    1
  • Kris Carlon
    • Admin
    • Staff
    Sep 9, 2013 Link

    There was an interesting comment in an article we recently did about extending the battery life of the Note 2 - the suggestion was to buy this massive new battery, but one of the commentators noted that the new battery gives 50% more power at double the thickness of the original, so why not just buy another original battery and have 100% more power at the same thickness (and just switch batteries). Good point for battery makers to listen to!

    1
  • Northernbaygirl Sep 2, 2013 Link

    A bigger battery is what every smartphone owner wants Kris :) I've just brought a power pack for boosting my phone battery while out and about, In the mean-time I've found a very nice black background with a tigers head depicted in white at one side.

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  • Northernbaygirl Sep 2, 2013 Link

    A bigger battery is what every smartphone owner wants Kris :) I've just brought a power pack for boosting my phone battery while out and about, In the mean-time I've found a very nice black background with a tigers head depicted in white at one side.

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  • Kris Carlon
    • Admin
    • Staff
    Sep 2, 2013 Link

    Unfortunately there is very little owners can do to control the internal light emissions of their devices, that's why this article focuses on what you CAN do (ie. limit how many pixels are actually lit up). While a smartphone-in-mourning look may not be all that exciting, you can get some pretty significant battery improvement by following these tips. But if you care more about shiny wallpaper etc then maybe an LCD display is the right fit. Or a bigger battery of course!

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  • Nik Technaudio Aug 29, 2013 Link

    Nope, screen filter won't work, as it doesn't actually reduce the light being given out by the pixels, it just, as the name suggests, filters it. Phones have settings deep within /system that controls the min/max brightness of the screen.

    A better alternative, is don't buy Samsung.

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  • Northernbaygirl Aug 24, 2013 Link

    Hi Maldives. As far as I am aware screen filter is a good app to help reduce battery drain from your screen being brightly lit. It allows you to reduce the brightness level further than the phones native controls

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  • maldives Aug 24, 2013 Link

    how about using screeen filter? does it save battery ?

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  • Northernbaygirl Aug 23, 2013 Link

    I have my screen brightness set to 20% unless my device is connected to a power source (also helps with viewing in bright conditions). It has just occurred to me that I don't know what type of screen my tablet has (ooops! LCD I think though) I must try the thing with the apps as I have all mine set to their light themes.

    Also is it possible to put a picture into one of these posts?

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  • Kris Carlon
    • Admin
    • Staff
    Aug 23, 2013 Link

    Hi pamMJschaar, any black is better than none! And red is the next best color to have in terms of energy savings - so your black and red flower plan sounds great. Check out the forum link too - there's some more tips in there.

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  • pamMJschaar Aug 23, 2013 Link

    If I choose a wallpaper that is mostly all black with, say, a partial dark red flower on half the screen, will that still help in saving battery or does the red just cancel out completely?
    Thnx so very much for this article! I just bought a brand new battery, hoping to save more, but didn't work. Guess I need to defiantly change to power saving settings. I hate Auto Brightness, due to the AMOLED being so dark in sunlight. THNX AGAIN!

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