Jul 1st, 2010

As if Samsung and every other partner they’ve mingled with haven’t already drilled it into our brains, a new study has eeked out of the blog of Google engineer Jeff Sharkey regarding OLED technology and just how much it affects battery life in devices that use it. He tested the AMOLED-equipped Google Nexus One to demonstrate using SurfaceFlinger – a system-wide screen composer.


In Jeff’s tests, he found that – by using SurfaceFlinger to push a certain hue to the display more than others –  he could measure OLED technology’s impact on battery life by the color that most of the LEDs are pushing. The end-result showed that some colors are pushed more than others (depending on device, that is. Green on the Nexus One, for instance, is more prominent than any other hue thanks to its Pentile Pixel layout, thus resulting in sharper text when running his tests) and that battery life is significantly impacted by which colors are getting more shine on the device at any given time.


If you’re pushing nothing but red, you could gain as much as 50% more battery life over default color (all colors being pushed at the same time to result in “true” color). And this effect would differ depending on which app you’re in. Settings, for instance, only uses 41 mA at this mode since most of the colors on the settings screen are black – this is because AMOLED technology turns off each LED/pixel that’s set to be rendered as black to produce “true” black (we recently went more in-depth with this quirk when Rob previewed some of the Galaxy S phones at Samsung’s event in New York Tuesday). When you have more than 80% of the pixels on-screen turned off at any given time, it’s bound to save power.

SurfaceFlinger effect modes on Android from Jeff Sharkey on Vimeo.

Conversely, the browser and email apps eat up an astounding 344.5 and 337.1 mA respectively. For a more in-depth look at how Jeff measured OLED’s impact on battery life using SurfaceFlinger and an industrial power measuring tool, make your way to his blog now.

Bottom Line: Alter your phone to display all red hues and you could potentially double battery life