WTF is dark mode?

Join the dark side

If you thought dark mode was just something they had in Star Wars, pull up a pew, pick up your phone and get ready for a quick lesson in how to make it a little less white.

What’s this dark mode all about then?

Seriously? Why not take a wild guess? OK, for those still struggling, it changes the colour scheme of your phone, tablet or computer so the screen isn’t quite so bright. It’s not just an aesthetic choice either, although it does look pretty smart – dark mode can help take some of the strain off your peepers, particularly if the room’s gloomy.

It can also help to squeeze a bit more life out of a device’s battery, although it’ll depend on what type of screen tech it uses. On phones with OLED displays dark mode should make the battery last a bit longer because the pixels don't have to work so hard, but the way LCDs work means you don’t see the same benefits there.

How do I get it?

iOS 13 and Android 10 both have dark modes that change the colour of native apps and menus but a lot of third-party apps need to be switched over individually.

On iOS, just go to your settings, scroll down to Display & Brightness and it’ll let you choose between a light or dark appearance, or switch on a schedule that’ll change it automatically either at sunrise and sunset, or on a custom timetable that you set yourself.

On Android it’s pretty similar. If it’s not in your Quick Settings menu, which is accessed by dragging down from the top of your phone’s screen, just fire up the Settings menu, look for Display and turn it on there instead. If you’re not running Android 10 yet, your phone might still have a dark mode but it depends on the model.

Does it work with all apps?

Not yet, but lots are being updated with dark modes so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb if you’ve switched your phone over. It differs between platforms but some of the more popular apps that do have a dark mode or theme option include Twitter, Pocket, YouTube, Amazon’s Kindle app and Facebook Messenger. Google’s apps do too but only on Android at the moment.

WhatsApp’s dark mode is believed to be on the way after some dark-coloured text bubbles and buttons were discovered in an installation file for a new beta version of the app, but if you can’t wait you could always change the chat wallpapers to various shades of grey.