Saturday, April 17, 2010

Phone wallpaper color can affect battery life

It seemed like some kind of a joke when I first read about it: with the recent phone displays made of OLED (Organic LED), the battery power consumed by the display varies based on the color being displayed. This was however not true with normal LCD displays found in most current and older generation phones or laptops.

In regular LCD displays, the screen is illuminated by a separate back-lit and the pixels themselves do not emit any light. In the case of OLED displays, the pixels themselves are illuminated and there is no need for a back-lit. Therefore, the power consumed by the display is basically dependent on how many of these pixels are illuminated and to what level. According to an article, a color profile with black background and white text consumes nearly 1/3rd of the power consumed by one with white background and black text.  In this case, the pixels that display the black color are not illuminated at all thereby saving battery life. HTC Nexus One has an OLED display, whereas all versions of the iPhone until now has regular LCD displays with back-lit.

OLED displays have other advantages aside from battery savings: their refresh rate is much higher, and they also render pretty sharp colors.  However, they do not fare well under sunlight as the maximum brightness of OLED pixels is still lower than what separate back-lits can provide.

So to save battery life on the Nexus one, set a dark background!

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