Screen Brightness and Its Effect on Battery Life

On October 27, 2011

As many people know, the screen is the greatest power draw on today’s touchscreen handsets. Did you know that you can control the amount of battery your device uses by simply changing the color of the background of your screen?

Doug Sillars from the AT&T Developer Program tested the power draw after 240 minutes on a Samsung Captivate with 3 types of backdrops. Here are the results:


Screen Type:                                                      Percentage of Battery Used:

Animated backdrop (800mW):                                                               58.18%

White backdrop (570 mW):                                                                    41.45%

Black Backdrop:  (370 mW):                                                                   26.91%


What these numbers boil down to is that the brighter and lighter your screen, the more energy your phone uses. And this is not an insignificant amount of power saved, either: the animated backdrop uses up over twice the battery power that a black backdrop uses.

Not only is this a simple change when developing, but altering the backdrop of your screen can also conserve battery life without affecting user experience, whereas other battery-saving methods call for turning off functions that the user might need, such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G/4G. One other development tidbit to consider is to make sure that you allow the screen to timeout, rather than forcing the screen timeout off, as this will also save battery.

Be sure to keep your background color and brightness in mind when developing your next app. After all, the less energy your app uses, the longer the user can spend on it!


You can read Doug’s original post about how screen color affects battery life on the AT&T Developer Program Blogs. For more app development resources, please visit Kickin’ Apps, a Facebook community where developers share best practices and tips, as well as work together to build better apps.