Android 15 has a new dark mode switch with the same old problems

A Google Pixel 8 Pro and Google Pixel Fold using Android 15's dark mode
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Android 15 includes a new "force dark mode" feature that works better than the old developer option.
  • Dark mode in Android isn't truly dark on all phones, making the feature less effective than it could be.
  • Pixel phones, in particular, opt for a dark grey instead of true black dark mode.

A new dark mode feature is coming to Android 15 that allows users to force more apps into swapping out those white backgrounds for darker ones. But, while this will work nicely for some of the best Android phones, phones like the Google Pixel don't actually use true black backgrounds when in dark mode, and this new option doesn't appear to fix that.

Android Authority details that the new feature will be available in the accessibility section of system settings, making it easier to find and use than the old developer mode switch.

The new force dark mode switch is also said to work on more apps since it doesn't follow the previous way of letting developers opt out of the mode. That means more apps that don't have an option for a dark mode should work with the new system switch.

The new dark mode accessibility toggle in Android 15

(Image credit: Android Authority)

The problem with the new feature is that it doesn't solve the actual accessibility problem with OLED displays on many Android smartphones. Phones that use gray backgrounds in place of true black ones, like the Google Pixel line, are worse for your eyes as shown by several studies over the past year. This brings into question why Google would put this mode under accessibility settings rather than display settings since it doesn't seem to solve an accessibility issue.

Thankfully, not all phones follow Google's Pixel line in this regard. Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus, and Motorola phones with OLED displays generally have true black backgrounds when dark mode is enabled, making them better choices for dark mode lovers.

Additionally, the new brightness control features in Android 15 seem likely to cause further problems for folks who are sensitive to PWM dimming methods. Android Central has reached out to Google about both new features but representatives did not get back to us in time for publication. We will update the article once we have more information on either feature.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu