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Simple question but searching I can't find much evidence. I use an LED device (not OLED), would that also make a difference?

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If the screen is LCD or LED then, there is no battery saving as answered on this question Will grayscale increase or decrease battery consumption? on AskDifferent.

However with an AMOLED screen, there is an advantage as the black pixels will be turned off. According to the article Why You Should Use Always Use Dark Mode on Phones

That said, the differences in power Google discovered between using an app normally and using its "night mode" (or dark mode) were striking, particularly for OLED-based phones. For example, when testing an AMOLED-based Google Pixel, Google found that Google Maps uses 63 percent less power when it Night Mode compared to normal mode. By contrast, an LCD-based iPhone 7 saw no change in power consumption

Although Night mode is not grayscale, the advantage of switching off the dark pixel should help in saving the battery.

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No, because power is still being consumed to display the image. Had the device been OLED or AMOLED, then it would have saved a bit of power, since each pixel is an individual source being powered, and black pixels would not receive power.

The best bet on saving power with LED is if the GPU was processing images in 8-bit, but it does not. If you turned on grayscale and took a screenshot then turned it back off, the image is still in color.

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For an LCD device the major power factor is the consumption of the background lighting. If you show the screen in color or gray does not have an impact ob the background lighting, therefore it does not make a difference in power consumption.

In OLED displays each pixel is shining, or to be precise each sub-pixel (red-green-blue and sometimes an additional white) is shining requires power. The more pixel and the brighter the pixel shine the more power is required. I would assume that e.g. a blue a sub-pixel shining at 100% requires a bit more power than 3 RBG sub-pixel shining at a lower brightness in grayscale mode. However the effect should be not very high. Therefore I would assume that the saved power by an OLED display in grayscale mode is very small.

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Everybody is confusing Greyscale with Dark Mode!

Dark mode changes the colors of the apps (including home screen and system apps like settings and such) and usually makes the backgrounds black since most of the screen is the background and by making it black it saves a lot of power. So Dark mode tries to have as much as dark/black colors showing on the screen. so basically it means dark/black background and white text/elements on screen.

On the other hand, Greyscale Mode is a completely different thing. Yes it will change what you see on the screen but not like 'dark mode'. Grayscale simply removes all the colors and makes them grey, just like the old TV's.

How does this save battery? (and yes it does) The screen will still be on and the brightness will not change at all so theres no battery saving from the screen. But your smartphone has a GPU inside of it and that's what will save battery in Greyscale mode The GPU is where what you see on your screen gets processed, and it usually works with million of colors that include all the shades and mixes of red, green and blue and there are almost 17 million color possibilities. But in greyscale there are only 256! That's crazy isn't it? And this is exactly what saves your battery power, it's because the GPU has to do WAY LESS calculations.

Extra info: colors on the screen are calculated from the values 0-255, 0 being the darkest and 255 the brightest. So a single pixel on a greyscale screen can be one of those 256 possibilities, but in a normal screen that displays all the colors we have a "minipixel" for red, another one for green and one for blue. They mix together in values from 0-255 to create other colors. That means now we have 255255255(combining red,green and blue values)=16777216 and thats the number of color possibilities in a RGB screen.

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  • Do you happen to have an estimate on the percentage of power reduction by using grayscale mode? Nov 11 '20 at 18:17
  • Good job making clear that grayscale is not dark mode. But I think your assumptions are wrong. (1) Yes, the system could store and process less data for each pixel, but very likely won't do so because that could break software. Try it yourself: enable grayscale, take a screenshot, disable grayscale, look at the screenshot, if it has color the system still does store and processes all colors as usual (this is the case for me on Android 11).
    – Socowi
    Sep 15 '21 at 8:43
  • (2) Either way, all apps/websites still use their regular colors which have to be converted to grayscale. This is additional work you wouldn't have to do if you just kept the colors. If the system (including software!) would only process the converted colors (which it doesn't, see previous comment) then maybe this additional work could pay off because you could save some work at other places. Such tradeoffs would always depend on your system. There is no general answer.
    – Socowi
    Sep 15 '21 at 8:50
  • (3) Your mentioned numbers are highly misleading as they are stored and processed in a positional numeral system, so the difference is just 3 bytes vs. 1 byte. Example: When adding numbers by hand, adding 1+100 takes only 3 times as long as adding 1+1, not 100 times as long. Actually, the numeral system does not matter. Colors are stored in components (typically 3: RGB) that are processed individually; not as one big number.
    – Socowi
    Sep 15 '21 at 8:51

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