Dark modes begin to become fashionable on mobile phones, although some apps have already played with them for quite some time. They become fashionable because they help, in theory, to have a more rested view when we spend a long time consulting the screen of our phone, and also because they save battery when we have a mobile with an OLED screen in our hands. Although for this you have to have a well-implemented dark mode, and that is not usually the case.
Android 10, the latest version of Google’s system, already has a more evolved dark mode than the previous ones, since we already had it in Android 9 Pie, although not extended to all phones. We show you how to activate it in Android 10, Pie and also in previous versions, either through launchers or more specific applications such as Xposed. Here you have all the options to activate the dark mode on your Android.
How to activate dark mode in Android 10
Until Android 11 arrives, version 10 of Google’s operating system will be the last one that is circulating on the planet’s phones and tablets. As was already the case with Android 9 Pie, Android 10 has the dark mode implemented natively, and it is as easy to activate it as going to the system settings and looking for the screen section.
Although the name of the button to be pressed must not always be identical, the dark mode is found in the screen settings
Thus, we will only have to open the phone’s settings menu by following this route: Settings> Display> Dark theme. Notice how the Google Pixel and the phones with Android One refer to this dark mode with the name of “Dark Theme”, treating it as if it were another customization of the aspect of our phone.
This may vary in other manufacturers, as the customization layers also sometimes vary the name of the sections of the phone configuration. Xiaomi, for example, calls the dark mode by its name, “Dark Mode”, in MIUI 11 although it places it in the same place as the rest, in the configuration screen settings. Take this into account when searching for it, because the path indicated above may not be literal.
How to activate dark mode in Android Pie
The problem here is that not all Android Pie phones have dark mode in their settings, though yes we find it on all phones with Android One or Android Go, the pure versions of the operating system. In the rest of the manufacturers, it depends on your decision when implementing the system configuration, and it will be necessary to check in each case whether or not the phone has this dark mode.
Pie’s dark mode, half more than a 100% implemented mode
If our phone already has Android Pie, and if it has a dark mode implemented in its configuration, we can usually find it in the Screen section, found in the Settings menu. In Android One, to mention the pure mode already mentioned before, we can find it in Settings> Display> Advanced> Device theme. There we can activate the Dark mode for the phone, although its application is partial.
We said that the implementation of dark mode in Pie was a half implementation, and that is because the system changes light colors to dark, it makes it black but does not apply it to the entire system. The quick setting bar turns black, and so does the bottom of the app drawer, but notifications are still with a white background, including those on the lock screen, as well as the entire phone settings section.
If we have a Samsung with Android Pie, one of the latest models of the Korean firm that have already made the leap to Android 9, we can activate the dark mode on its Samsung One UI, the interface that is installed with the arrival of Android Pie. Samsung has taken the dark mode in Pie a step further, adapting it to the entire operating system.
How to activate dark mode in Android Oreo and previous versions
Since the dark mode for the system came with Pie, the previous versions of Android such as Oreo, Nougat and older have to use different apps that allow the system to adapt to these black tones that we have been commenting on. The options are several, and we can use one for rooted phones such as Xposed, which we will discuss later. But let’s go with the simplest options.
Perhaps the most practical thing in this type of customization is to use a launcher such as Nova Launcher, possibly the most popular launcher that we can find in Android. Installing Nova Launcher and activating it, we can customize the appearance of the operating system with a series of themes, although we find a button that is much more effective. Within the Nova Launcher settings we have Night Mode, which we can activate regardless of the time of day. It will be enough to mark the option “Always” in your options so that the phone always goes to use this night mode of Nova Launcher.
In addition to this dark mode, we can also choose to use dark wallpaper for our phone, which will help to maintain the sense of continuity between the menus and the desks, and also to continue saving battery in the case of having a phone with an OLED screen in hand. We can achieve this by choosing any dark image from any photo repository such as Google Images for our background, or by going to applications such as Darkify or Pitch Black, which specialize in offering us dark desktop backgrounds. In the case of Pitch Black, a completely black and smooth background.
Using Xposed with ROOT, a solution with disadvantages
And as we said, we can always turn to Xposed to customize our Android in a deeper way, although to use Xposed we will have to have ROOT access on the phone (we can get it with Magisk) and that always has its implications, such as the fact that we can lose access to mobile payment apps, such as Google Pay, because they do not run on phones with ROOT access. If we still want to take a risk, or if we already have ROOT access on our Android phone, we can resort to Xposed to activate a dark mode on our phone.
Rooting a phone is not easy and carries its risks: but if we accept them or we already have such access, Xposed is our friend
To do it you have to install Xposed, whose app can easily be found in this XDA-Developers thread. Xposed must be “flashed” from a custom recovery, and to do so we find the instructions in the XDA thread that we have linked, although here in Engadget Android we also have articles like this one. Once we have installed Xposed, we download and install Settings Editor / Editor Pro from Google Play.
Now, in Xposed, we go to the Modules section, there we import Settings Editor, we open it and we can customize the appearance of our Android. The key sections that we must customize are “Filter icon color with HTML color “,” Background color “and” Text color “. Playing with these variables and with colors in hexadecimal format, such as the colors of web pages (black is # 000000), we can convert the interface of our Android into a custom dark mode.
Some Google apps already have dark mode
We mentioned previously that some applications have already played a dark mode for a long time, such as Twitter, although turn the interface to gray so here we will not find battery saving but only rest for the sight. However, this dark mode is also present in some Google applications, which have long anticipated the arrival of dark mode to the entire operating system.
Among these apps that already have dark mode we have, for example, YouTube, the telephone dialer, the phone’s contacts, the GBoard keyboard itself or the messages app. In all of them, the dark mode can be activated from now on, although it does not affect the rest of the system. Also there are manufacturers that implement dark mode independently of the evolution of Android, like the case of Samsung that we mentioned before.
Be that as it may, remember that a dark mode without a uniform black color will not save battery and it will only be a cosmetic change that, at best, will help us to rest our eyes a little more. The modes that save battery are those that turn black, and as long as we have an OLED screen, it is not valid with LCDs.
The truth about saving power with dark mode
The dark mode theory and battery saving only works on OLED type panelsEither in the normal OLEDs as such or in the AMOLEDs that some manufacturers work, such as the Super AMOLEDs that Samsung mounts on their own devices and that, incidentally, sells to others. Everything has to do with the technology of the screen itself, as we tell you now.
If the panel is not OLED, let’s forget about saving battery by using dark tones on the mobile
The LCD panels turn on completely even if they only have to display a small message on the screen. Its technology is backlit and that is why the screen is dark or light does not affect its consumption, only our eyestrain. With OLED panels, the pixels can be turned on separately, so each black point on the screen is equivalent to one pixel offHence, the greater the amount of black on the screen, the less consumption for the screen and, therefore, for the phone.
This solid and testable theory crumbles when dark modes are poorly implemented. We do not see few apps that boast of having a dark mode that really relies on dark shades of gray, which causes that even the OLED panels have to be turned on. A dark mode that saves battery is the one that takes the dark tones to black, without more, thus allowing the screen to remain mostly off, and thus preserve autonomy.