Red Android OLED Colors may Double Battery Life?

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Anyone who’s familiar with Astronomy knows that using red rather than white lighting at night can help preserve your “night-vision”. It turns out that using only the red-subpixels on OLED displays can dramatically decrease power usage of the screen. As I’ve mentioned before, the screen is the number one power hog on any Android device, so saving a chunk of power when utilizing the display could potentially extend battery life — a lot!

Android phones with OLED displays include the Nexus One, Droid Incredible, Samsung Galaxy, and others. OLED, which stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diode”, displays have separate subpixels for each color (red, green, and blue). The basis of this hack is founded upon the theory that each color channel has a different efficiency, and that by utilizing fewer channels will save power. Additionally, unlike traditional LCD displays, OLED’s don’t have backlights, so darker colors draw less power.

Jeff Sharkey embarked on just that challenge and detailed his findings in his article. In his experimentation he took a Nexus One and started playing with turning off various color channels.

Sharkey hypothesized, “If you could power only the red pixels you could save quite a bit of power.” It turns out, he was right. “Filtering to show only red pixels only requires 35% of the original baseline OLED panel current, on average. Adding back the baseline current, the best case overall is about 42% of the original system current, effectively doubling the battery life.”

Would you like to give it a try? Unfortunately there is no .apk for you to install, but Sharkey has made the code available to other developers to potentially include in their apps. Perhaps someone from #teamdouche could whip this into a future CyanogenMod ROM!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.