Phone with black wallpaper.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek
A plain black wallpaper will save battery power if your device has an OLED or AMOLED screen. However, it will not save a significant amount of power on a typical device. The power savings are because each pixel on an OLED screen produces its own light, and if it doesn't light up (and it's just black), it's off and not using power.

In a world where you can have 3D scenes rendered in real time as your smartphone’s background, plain black wallpaper isn’t the most eye-catching option. However, black backgrounds can offer battery life improvements over colored wallpaper… or can they?

OLED vs. LCD: It Depends on Your Screen

On many displays, such as the computer screen you might be reading this article on, using a black background wallpaper won’t save you any battery life. That has to do with the difference between an OLED display and an LCD display.

With an LCD display, no matter what color a pixel is—dark black or blinding white—there’s a backlight at the back of your screen, and it’s constantly outputting light. The black pixels block more of the backlight, but the light is still there, using power.

However, this doesn’t apply if you’re using a device with an OLED or AMOLED display. OLED screens don’t have a solid backlight. Each pixel on an OLED screen is an “organic light emitting diode” that produces its own light. Therefore, if you display a black pixel, the diode simply doesn’t light up.

In other words, if you use a black background on an OLED or AMOLED display, your display will produce less light. This does help save battery power, but it’s not going to make a significant difference.

The good news is that while your computer likely uses an LCD display, your smartphone very likely is OLED. Many iPhones since the iPhone X in 2017 feature OLED displays, and the majority of mid-range to high-end Android devices also feature OLED—especially Samsung Galaxy phones.

How to Make the iPhone Wallpaper Black

First, download this pure black wallpaper, then go to Settings > Wallpaper > Add New Wallpaper.

Add new wallpaper on iPhone.

Tap the “Photos” option and select the black wallpaper.

Choose the black wallpaper.

Finally, tap “Add” in the top right and then choose “Set as Wallpaper Pair” to use the wallpaper on both the lock screen and home screen.

Choose "Set Wallpaper Pair."

How to Set a Plain Black Background on Android

First, download this pure black wallpaper, then go to Settings > Wallpaper & Style > Change Wallpaper.

Change wallpaper on Android.

Next, choose the “My Photos” or “Gallery” option and select the black wallpaper.

Choose the black wallpaper.

Lastly, make sure to select both the Lock Screen and Home Screen and confirm the wallpaper.

Add wallpaper to lock and home screens.

Changing the wallpaper to plain black may save a small amount of battery power, but there are much better ways to make bigger battery-saving improvements. Check out our guides for saving battery life on iPhones and improving battery life on Android devices.

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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