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How to Design the Dark Mode for your Mobile App Effectively

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The dark themes have been the most sought after features in app design for some years now. Last year macOS launched Dark Mode, and Google declared a broad universal range of Dark Theme. While it was once rare, the current patterns are now dark themes and have become popular.

If done correctly, design the dark mode for your Mobile App is easier to read in low light. They lower the eyestrain. Based on the screen, they facilitate low battery consumption. Nevertheless, a beautiful dark theme is not easy to create. We will look at how mobile app designers can start providing their users with a dark mode UI design experience.

Why should you pay great attention to dark mode?

Health and awareness

If used for long, the apps that feature too much brightness are harmful to our eyes. The use of dark mode will help relax the eye-opening, making it easier to work on applications. It helps solve these persistent problems of health and well-being, thus answering why dark mode is common.

A popular trend

Any trend-oriented mobile app design company would tell you that it needs to be designed according to match the recent market demands. Dark UI is the most popular design element on demand since the last year.

Prolongs battery life

Dark mode app design helps to lengthen the battery life of the device. Google confirmed that a dark mode on OLED screens is a game-changer for the device's battery life. YouTube saves up to 15 percent more battery life in dark mode than the flat background at its 50 percent brightness.

What constitutes an unhealthy, dark mode?

When reading a white text on a black background, the iris opens more and becomes more luminous, and the deformation of the lens develops a fuzzier focus on the eyes. This is called the Halation Effect, one of the biggest challenges in the design of dark mode devices. Due to the high contrast, unhealthy dark mode tends to be very harsh on the eyes and can strain them very fast.


If every pixel gives out its sense of illumination to display darkness in OLED, the pixel does not light up at all. But because most OLED panels are limited to a refresh rate of 60Hz, scrolling lets the pixels light up, and the slow refresh rate induces a jiggly effect.

How to design an android app with a dark theme?

Google comes with robust support for documentation that lets designers understand how the dark theme functions on the Android ecosystems. The tech companies have established four principles that define dark UI design and provide a starting point for how dark mode can be designed.

Dark with grey

Use grey color instead of solid black when designing a dark theme to show space and elevation in a wide depth range environment.

Color with accents

In dark theme UIs, add minimal color accents, so the majority of space is devoted to dark surfaces.

Save energy

Conserve the battery life by using light pixels when designing the dark mode in items that need performance (such as devices with OLED screens).

Enhance accessibility

Accommodate regular users of dark themes (such as those with low vision), by meeting the color contrast standards for accessibility. The Google Guidelines for Dark Color Scheme and Overall Mode set different properties.


Elevation: The modules maintain the same default shadow modules and elevation levels as for the light theme throughout the process of developing the dark theme.

The higher the elevation of a surface, the lighter the surface would be. The application sees the lightness of a semi-transparent overlay.

Accessibility and contrast: The backdrop should be dark enough to display white text in dark theme UI design. They will use a minimum contrast of 15.8:1 between the text and the context. Doing so ensures that when applied to surfaces at the highest elevation, the body text meets the WCAG AA norm of 4.5:5:1.

Colors: The dark theme UI should avoid saturated colors; instead, designers should concentrate on using desaturated colors because they increase readability. The choice of primary and secondary colors should also rely on both the light and dark UI themes being considered.

Light text on dark areas: When a light text appears on a dark backdrop, specific opacity rates must be used:

  • High-emphasis text is 87 percent opaque
  • Low focus text and warning text have 60 percent opacity
  • The disabled text has a 38 percent opacity

States: States use the overlays to communicate the status of interactive elements for the dark theme templates or components. In a dark theme, states must use the same values for overlay as the default light theme. Two containers inherit the overlays of the State: Surface and Secondary.

Surface containers that use the surface color have to add an overlay that suits the text or icon color. The state overlay must be white for the surface containers which use the primary color.

How to design an iOS app in dark mode?

Apple has revisited the sense of UI style and colors inside iOS with dark mode. Let us look at the updates Apple has introduced to help you develop dark mode on iOS 13.

Semantic colors

Apple has come up with colors for the commonly applied UI elements to standardize the look and feel of the iOS apps in both dark and light mode. These colors do not have an absolute RGB value, and they adapt directly to the iOS interface style. 

System colors

Apple has also developed 9 predefined system colors and the semantic colors, which are dynamic and support the dark system-wide appearance. This means that such colors are appropriate for selected design types, such as semantic colors.

Vibrancy and blur effects

Apple has introduced 4 blur effects and 8 vibrancy effects with iOS 13, which automatically adapts to the design of the iOS app. Apple has also implemented 4 vibrancy effects in the typography suite for dark iOS mode, 3 in the overlay, and 1 for the separator.

SF symbols 

Apple provides a set of more than 1500 symbols. Human Interface Guidelines for Software developers and designers to use in their applications. They look great in the Dark Mode since they have been designed for both light and dark UI.

Tips for effective dark-themed mobile app design

  • Check the concept on both looks.
  • Avoid the pure black color.
  • Take into consideration the emotional side of your app design.
  • Stop using saturated colors on dark themes.
  • Place dark background in animations and illustrations.

Quick summary

Dark themes have a lot of advantages, and these days are prevalent. Nevertheless, they are challenging to enforce fully. The simple way to invert shades and reuse colors would improve eyestrain, do reading in low light more delicate and split the data and visual hierarchy. Below is a quick summary of how to design dark mode for your mobile app effectively.

  • Importance of dark-themed mobile app design
  • What constitutes an unhealthy, dark mode
  • How to design an android app with a dark theme?
  • How to design an iOS app in dark mode?
  • Tips for effective dark-themed mobile app design

About the Author

Software developer and solution provider with over 7 years of experience, including general management of mid to large size organizations, corporate development, product development, business operations, and strategies. Currently managers at EPixelSoft- A Software Development Company- A one-stop-sho...   View more...