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

Plain black wallpapers can also make text easier to read, helping the icons stand out. They won’t be lost in the jumble of colors — or animated fish, if you’re using a live wallpaper.

Will It Save Battery Life?

On most computer displays, such as the computer screen you’re probably reading this article on, using a black background won’t save you any battery life. No matter what color a pixel is — whether it’s 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 it’s still behind the black pixel, using power.

For many portable devices — including Apple’s iPhone — you can’t save any battery life by using a black background. Like on a computer’s LCD monitor, the iPhone’s backlight is constantly shining when the screen is on.

However, this doesn’t apply if you’re using a mobile device with an AMOLED (also known as Super AMOLED or OLED) 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. When the pixel is black, it isn’t producing any light. When the pixel is white, it’s producing light.

In other words, if you use a black background on an AMOLED display, your display will produce less light. This will help save battery power, squeezing more battery life out of your device.

There are many devices with AMOLED displays out there, including the popular Samsung Galaxy S3. The Nokia Lumia 900 has an AMOLED display, although the Lumia 920 has an IPS LCD display. To check the type of display your smartphone or tablet has, examine its specifications or perform a Google search.

Image Credit: KhE on Flickr

Setting a Plain Black Wallpaper on Android

To set a plain black wallpaper on Android, open this page in your browser and tap here to view the plain-black wallpaper image. Long-press the image and tap Save image to save it to your device.

Long-press on your home screen and tap Gallery to select a wallpaper from your device. If you’re using an older version of Android or a manufacturer-provided interface, you may have to tap Wallpaper after long-pressing your home screen.

Tap the Download folder in the gallery, select your plain black wallpaper, and confirm the operation.

Remember: Setting a plain black wallpaper will only improve your Android’s battery life if it has an OLED display. However, we’ve also got some tips that will help maximize any Android device’s battery life. Don’t use a task killer, though.

Setting a Plain Black Wallpaper on iOS

To set a plain black wallpaper on iOS, open this page in Safari and tap here to view the plain-black background image. Long-press the wallpaper and save it to your device.

Return to the home screen, tap the Settings icon, and select Brightness & Wallpaper.

Browse for a new wallpaper and select your Camera Roll — you’ll see the black image you saved. Select it as your background.

Setting a plain black wallpaper won’t improve your battery life on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Don’t worry, though — we’ve got some tips for improving your iOS device’s battery life.

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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