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How black wallpaper can save your Android battery

Samsung Galaxy S10 03
© nextpit

Most people know the display is one of the most battery-hungry elements of any smartphone, but what they don't know is that the wallpaper they choose – yes, wallpaper – can make a significant difference to battery life. A pure black or generally dark-colored wallpaper or background can actually save power over a lighter one. It just depends on the type of screen you have.

First off, we need to share a bit of display technology information. In the smartphone market, the majority of displays are either AMOLED or LCD. I won't go into too much detail, but if you want to know more (and which one is better for what), you can check out our Smartphone screens explained article. If you just want the black wallpaper, skip ahead to the bottom of the article.

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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 LG G7 THinQ has an LCD display, as does the HTC U11 Plus, Huawei Mate 10, and Sony Xperia XZ2.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus vs Huawei Mate 10 1946
Older phones like the U11 Plus and Mate 10 often use LCD displays. / © NextPit

LCDs are also quite power hungry, because every pixel needs to be illuminated whenever the screen is in use.

Display tech explained: AMOLED and OLED

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 S10Galaxy Note9Galaxy S9 for example, all use an AMOLED display, as does the Google Pixel 3.

The screen is made up of organic material that actually produces light when a current is passed through it – electroluminescence. AMOLED displays are easier on your battery because every pixel is not always lit up. They also show 'true' blacks because there is no back-lighting.

Battery life: AMOLED vs LCD


You can probably see where this is going: if you have an AMOLED display then you can 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 percent battery life per hour at 20 percent brightness by using a black wallpaper on an AMOLED display, and about 8 percent per hour at full brightness.

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


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 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 their extended battery life (just don't stray too far from a charger while you gloat).

androidpit samsung galaxy s5 black wallpaper screenshot
It's not exciting, but it'll save battery power. And it doesn't have to be pure black, just dark. / © NextPit

Other battery life tips for AMOLED screens

There are other things AMOLED owners can do to maximize their battery life, such as 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, you can save even more battery life. After all, we spend more time in apps than on our home screens. You can also set your text and email preferences to have a black background and use 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 Settings and look for Battery, usually in the Device Settings/Device Maintenance section.

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.

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 darker system-wide 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 the savings will still be worthwhile.

Did these black wallpaper tips save you some battery life? Do you have any other tips for conserving battery life? Share them with us in the comments!

Go to comment (38)
Nicholas Montegriffo

Nicholas Montegriffo

A cyberpunk and actual punk, Nicholas is the Androidpit team's hardcore gamer, writing with a focus on future tech, VR/AR, AI & robotics. Out of office, he can be found hanging around in goth clubs, eating too many chillies, or at home telling an unlucky nerd that their 8th level wizard died from a poisoned spike trap.

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  • 2
    Doug May 14, 2018 Link to comment

    Your link to black wallpaper works just fine! I click and the screen goes black! Minimum battery use! Minimum phone usefulness!
    Anyway, my phone has a gray wallpaper which suits me fine.

  • Albin Foro 30
    Albin Foro May 12, 2018 Link to comment

    The poet below has it right: homescreen's aren't even on for very long and app screens often are. Skype just came out with a dark theme, so maybe some developers are reading poetry. (Personally, set my LCD homescreen with a 15 second time-out, Greenify background drains, and use browser sites instead of installing resource-hungry apps that do the same thing.)


  • 3
    christina May 12, 2018 Link to comment

    what app do I use on a s6 edge to use black background and white txt on email and text messages?

  • Ajay Malik 1
    Ajay Malik Nov 12, 2016 Link to comment

    sir my phone display is IPS display can i have use black wallpaer so my phone battry save or no

    • INFOTECH 1
      INFOTECH Jul 13, 2017 Link to comment


  • Todor Tashev 4
    Todor Tashev Mar 15, 2016 Link to comment

    Hello, it's me, I was wondering
    If after all these years you'd like to hear about my painful suffering
    They say that time's supposed to heal, yeah
    But my battery's gettin' even worse.

    Hello, can you hear me?
    I'm in Europe dreaming about a darker theme for my Super AMOLED screen
    When we were younger and TFT
    I've forgotten how it felt when the phone lasted for a week

    There's such a difference between those
    And a million amps

    Hello from the gmail app
    I must've text a thousand times
    To tell you I'm angy, for everything that you've done
    But when I text you never seem to be F’CKIN’ TAKIN’ ITSERIOUSLY!!!

    Hello from the white (web)-site
    At least I can say that I've tried
    To tell you we all need a dark theme on our Samsung phones
    But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore

    Hello, how are you?
    It's so typical of me to talk about my phone, I'm sorry
    I hope that you're well
    Did you ever last a whole day on a white screen like in gmail?

    It's no secret
    That the both of us are running out of battery life

    So hello from the gmail app
    I must've text a thousand times
    To tell you I'm angy, for everything that you've done
    But when I text you never seem to be F’CKIN’ TAKIN’ ITSERIOUSLY!!!

    Hello from the white (web)-site
    At least I can say that I've tried
    To tell you we all need a dark theme on our Samsung phones
    But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore

    Ooh, anymore
    Ooh, anymore
    Ooh, anymore

    Hello from the gmail app
    I must've text a thousand times
    To tell you I'm angy, for everything that you've done
    But when I text you never seem to be F’CKIN’ TAKIN’ ITSERIOUSLY!!!

    Hello from the gmail app
    I must've text a thousand times
    To tell you I'm angy, for everything that you've done
    But when I text you never seem to be F’CKIN’ TAKIN’ ITSERIOUSLY!!!

    SorinAlbin ForoMichelle LunaBastian SiewersOrion JokaLia Martos

  • Chaytes 1
    Chaytes Mar 13, 2016 Link to comment

    Im using a black wallpaper but never occurred to me that the colour icons would still be an issue. I'll try hide all the unused apps or find a black theme. The email white on black is a great idea too. Only thing I need colour for real is browsing Facebook and tinder 😈

  • 2
    Yoma Ma Dec 21, 2015 Link to comment

    The solution to the black or dark wallpaper is SO simple.

    If you want a pitch-black wallpaper, turn the camera on, turn the flash off, find a soft, black surface like a pillow or black jeans/pants, press the camera lens onto it--not too hard but enough so no light filters in around the edge of the camera, and take a picture.

    If you want a dark wallpaper (90-95% dark is good enough), whether a solid color or mostly dark with very little bright colors or outlines, just take a picture of something that you like that fits the description... or spend who knows how much time perusing through pics on the net.

    Bottom line, you choose what you want for wallpaper; if you are battery power conscious, dark wallpaper with minimal icons on your home screen is for you--mine just has the clock... and less glare is also much easier on the eyes. However, if what you like is a bright, busy home screen, the sky is the limit... literally.

    Don't forget to make a copy of the pic to an SD card and/or your PC, so you can use it on other phones or if you have to reset your current phone.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ... CHEERS!!


    • 3
      Deactivated Account Jan 13, 2017 Link to comment

      No, the resolution is just too big even if it's a black image.

      The only good method is get a 2x2 and crop even more out of that with a image editing app and then set it as wallpaper. It saves me about 13% of battery per hour.
      I browse facebook for 1 hour and it drains my battery for about 4-7% only .


    • 2
      Doug May 14, 2018 Link to comment

      Nice, Cristian.


  • 7
    Mel Fox May 12, 2015 Link to comment

    Best improvement a REMOVABLE battery

    Orion JokaDeactivated AccountPaul Warner

  • Frank Neulichedl 16
    Frank Neulichedl May 12, 2015 Link to comment

    Interesting article - would have thought that by now the wallpaper doesn't help improve battery life anymore.

  • 1
    JesperLR Apr 9, 2015 Link to comment

    Great article - my worst battery consumer is always the display on time, so anything to reduce that makes a difference! :)

    If anyone wants an app for setting a solid color as wallpaper (e.g. black) I just helped develop a brand new beautiful app for that purpose with Lollipop material colors (it's called "Material Colors Wallpaper HD" and can be found on Google Play)

  • 4
    jeff Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

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

    Moni MihailovStuart Male

  • 11
    Stuart Male Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

    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.

    Paul Warner

    • 2
      Alex Atkin Jan 24, 2016 Link to comment

      Think of it this way, you get more time to use the screen for looking at photos or watching video, rather than wasting the power on having a pretty UI that is completely unimportant.

      I generally have the brightness on my Note 4 down really low. It still looks great (AMOLED screen have excellent contrast ratios regardless of the brightness setting) and it preserves the battery for when I will most appreciate it.

  • GT Ohh 14
    GT Ohh Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

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

    Moni Mihailov

    • 2
      Alex Atkin Jan 24, 2016 Link to comment

      They are probably trying to burn out the AMOLED screen so you have to upgrade your phone more often.

      Tage .T

  • 4
    durga syn Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

    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

    Moni Mihailov

  • Lee 16
    Lee Jan 25, 2015 Link to comment

    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 📝😊

    Moni MihailovFrank NeulichedlGT Ohh

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