Does lowering the screen resolution increase battery life or does doing so even save battery life? Today, we will discuss this topic trying to answer this question.
When it comes to mobile devices, Battery life is always a notable concern. Some people may care a little less while some consider it as basic. However, no matter who the user is, battery life is always an important factor. Modern technologies have enabled a number of important steps towards the future, opening avenues for new horizons.
New features are continuously included in the latest products, while some old features are removed. At the same time, the internal components are getting more and more power efficient, especially when it comes to processors. Unfortunately, there’s still one final component that consumes most of our batteries: the display. There are ways to reduce power consumption, but how much does screen resolution affect our battery?
LCD vs OLED
First of all, before getting into the central aspects of the article, let’s talk about one important factor: display technology. Most of us know that nowadays, LCD and OLED screens are the most common ones. While their function is identical, they work in very different ways. Furthermore, they have a number of unique properties, making them more suitable for certain applications. What we are going to talk about is the light source. In fact, the way these screens light up can make a huge difference in a device’s battery life.
The LCD screen consists of liquid crystals, polarized by control circuits to display certain images and colors. These crystals are backlit by a dedicated light source, called a backlight. This light is always on and the brightness may vary depending on the settings, but it is not affected by the displayed image. The upside is that power consumption is much more predictable, while the downside is the lack of options energy saving.
The OLED panels composed by groups of individual RGB LEDs forming pixels. Some panels use pen-brick technology to share certain LEDs between two pixels, thereby reducing cost and power consumption, but also reducing image quality. Based on technology, we can easily understand that a red pixel consumes less power than a white pixel. For the same reason, a black pixel won’t use any power at all.
Yes, screen size matters. You should always remember that screen sizes are measured diagonally, so the size increase is not linear. When calculating the total screen surface overall, you will notice that there is not much difference between diagonal 2 and diameter 2.5.. However, the difference becomes more significant when comparing screen 5, 5 inch with 6 inch screen. Usually, when a manufacturer releases a device in two different screen sizes, the larger device has a larger battery to make up for the difference in power consumption – and sometimes a bit more. For this reason, screen size is not something you should worry about. Just in case, make sure the battery size fits the screen when you buy a new device.
As mentioned before, brightness is the ultimate factor when it comes to power consumption. Different panels behave differently, with OLED panels often being the more efficient choice. The reason for this is that the user can set their preferred brightness using both, but the OLED display can change the brightness on the panel based on the displayed image. We have also acknowledged that some colors consume less energy than others, especially primary colors. While reducing the brightness would be the ultimate energy-saving solution, it’s not a really appealing option for everyday use. Now, we’ve ruled this out as a permanent solution, but what else can we do?
Original screen resolution
Now we can finally talk about focus, screen resolution. This topic will be divided into two parts and you will soon understand why. Lowering the resolution can be an effective way to reduce power consumption, but it’s probably not what you think of. Less pixels means less power, right? Unnecessary.
Let’s compare a single LED pixel with 4 smaller pixels of the same area. If we put the amount of light emitted at the same level, maybe 4 smaller pixels will do their job more efficiently. When it comes to LCD screens, the amount of pixels does not affect the brightness output due to the backlit panel. In both cases, it seems that the lower pixel count doesn’t really make a significant difference in power consumption. So why exactly should we even consider using a lower screen resolution?
The reason is the required processing power. More pixels means more elements to build, so the CPU and GPU are under a higher load. This results in overheating and overall higher energy usage by these components. Display driver circuits also require more power to drive higher pixel counts, which makes for a noticeable difference. With a lower pixel count, we put less strain on the device’s hardware. This means better performance, lower temperatures and more battery life.
Dots per inch (DPI)
What if the device we are using comes with a high native screen resolution and we want to scale it down? This can be done through software settings, which may be included in some devices such as Samsung. What this does is scale down the entire interface to a lower resolution and other content and tracking apps think your actual screen resolution is different from the original. The principles are actually the same, as your device will display only the desired amount of pixels and still render the output on the same panel. This won’t be as effective as the lower native resolution, however, it will still save some precious battery.
If you have a Samsung device or another that natively supports this setting, you’ll find it in your Display settings. If your device does not support the screen resolution setting, there are ways to do this. You can click on this Reddit Link to view the easy tutorial no required root access and can be easily done using ADB on your PC. For more information on how to set up ADB on your computer, check out the article linked below! If you have root access on your device, you can find tons of apps on Play Store or external portals like APK Mirror or XDA.
The listed tips will only work on OLED screens as they take advantage of some of the unique properties of these panels. If you have an OLED screen, well, this is for you! First of all, let’s talk about the topic. As mentioned, the black pixels are completely turned off, so they don’t use any power at all. This means that using a black theme would be a really great idea for looks and battery life. The easiest way to customize your device is to use Substratum, which is currently compatible with most devices running Android Nougat and above. In many cases it doesn’t even require root access, so it’s a pretty cool solution. For Samsung users of Android Oreo devices, there’s a full dedicated article linked below!
Another great solution is a simple free app called Pixoff Battery Saver. This app allows you to turn off certain pixels to save power. You can choose the type of grid applied to the screen and the number of pixels disabled. The concept is really simple and the app doesn’t require root access. If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download it by clicking the link below!
Hopefully, these tips on reducing screen resolution have helped you improve your battery life and enjoy your smartphone longer without having to find a charger like before. Stay tuned on Xiandroid.com for more cool stuff and don’t forget to check out our other great articles!