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How Black Wallpaper Can Save Your Battery – And More Battery Tips!

Kris Carlon
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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 AMOLED vs LCD smackdown. In the smartphone market at the moment the majority of displays are either AMOLED or LCD – but many owners don't know that the kind of wallpaper, yes, wallpaper, you choose can actually make a difference to your battery life depending on the type of screen with which your device is equipped.

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Get more battery life out of your AMOLED displayed smartphone. / © Techkiddy - AndoridPIT

First off, 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. That means that even if you're looking at black on your smartphone or tablet screen, it is actually black lit up from behind. Hence, LCD displays don't really display ''true'' black. They are also quite power hungry as every pixel needs to be illuminated all the time.

Next, AMOLED. AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode and it is also used for televisions screens but more notably, for smartphones. Samsung displays, for example, are usually AMOLED. 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, 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

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.

What about LCD battery saving wallpaper, I hear you ask? Sorry, LCD displays 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. The good news is you can have the brightest 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

There's 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, which you can find here, and swap your app appearances to be as dark as possible.

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

You can also set a darker theme for your device, change your screen's timeout setting, enable power saving mode for your display brightness and then wait until your battery is almost dead once more and make a note of the percentage your display chewed up with a darker vibe going on. If it's significant then it's worth keeping it. Of course, your battery is used by a lot more than just display, so results will be dependent on your phone usage habits. But it's still going to save you some battery life.

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

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Comments

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  • pamMJschaar 11 months ago 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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    Kris Carlon 11 months ago 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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  • Northernbaygirl 11 months ago 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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  • maldives 11 months ago Link

    how about using screeen filter? does it save battery ?

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  • Northernbaygirl 11 months ago 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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  • Nik Technaudio 11 months ago 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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    Kris Carlon 10 months ago 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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  • Northernbaygirl 10 months ago 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 10 months ago 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 10 months ago 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!

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  • Northernbaygirl 10 months ago 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.

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    Kris Carlon 10 months ago 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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  • A.F.Kmail 10 months ago 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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