When you want to know the time, do you tap your phone screen? Or is it displayed on your screen at all times, even when you’re not using your phone?
With iPhone 14 Pro, users could just glance at their screen, as the time is right there and “always on”—as is their upcoming calendar events, news notifications, the song being played. Basically, whatever is normally on their lock screen is displayed constantly, except with a dimmed background.
A long-time feature of Android phones, always-on displays (AOD) show a small amount of information by keeping your screen awake even when your device is idle. No more pressing down a button, double tapping a screen, or raising your device just to view your notifications.
But where some see convenience, others see privacy concerns or simply an annoyance. Here’s what you need to know about always-on displays—and how to get rid of them on your phone.
What is an always-on display?
An AOD is a feature that enables your device to display information while it is inactive or asleep. Typically, the displayed information includes the date, time, battery status, and widgets you’ve selected—such as calendar events, social media updates, and reminders. Your chat notifications will also be displayed with AOD turned on. AODs allow you to view this information at a glance without having to wake your phone.
AODs have been a staple on Android smartphones for a while, with Apple recently adding the feature to its new iPhone 14 Pro models. Smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Fitbit Sense also come with AODs. As with all things across the iOS and Android divide, the implementation of the AOD screen differs.
Always-on display on iPhone
On iOS, the AOD feature is only available for the new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The feature will not trickle down to older iPhone models. On the iPhone, the AOD dims the entire lock screen when you lock or leave your iPhone idle.
Your wallpaper, clock, widgets, and notifications are fully visible in Apple’s implementation of the AOD. To personalize your AOD, customize your lock screen by long pressing the display.
In some scenarios, the AOD on the iPhone will turn off. Such as when your iPhone is lying face down or in your pocket or bag. If you have Sleep Focus or Low Power Mode enabled, the AOD will turn off automatically.
Always-on display on Android
AODs are available on a variety of Android phones from different brands, each with a slightly different implementation. Typically, AODs on Android phones are monochromatic and display the date and time, battery percentage, and in-display fingerprint scanner icon. If you have notifications, icons of the apps are displayed, instead of the entire notification like on the iPhone.
Depending on your device, you may have limited personalization options for the AOD on your Android phone. Access any personalization option through the settings menu of your Android phone.
There are certain scenarios where the AOD will turn off automatically on an Android phone, such as when lying face down or in your pocket or bag. If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can schedule specific hours for AOD to be active. On Pixel phones, you can temporarily turn off AOD using Bedtime mode in the Google Clock app. Note that not all Android phones support AOD.
Read more: How to reduce screen time?
How do always-on displays work
One important consideration for phone makers is how to offer AOD that uses as little power as possible. After all, you wouldn’t want to use a fairly superfluous feature if it causes your battery to drain faster.
On the iPhone, the AOD uses its ProMotion display technology to adjust the screen’s refresh rate. This refers to the number of times a screen is refreshed to display an image per second. Refresh rates are measured in hertz (Hz). A refresh rate of 90Hz means the screen refreshes 90 times per second. ProMotion displays can adjust their refresh rate from as low as 1Hz to a high of 120Hz. This adaptive scaling keeps the screen refresh rate low when the AOD is active to reduce battery drain.
On Android phones, AODs typically work by turning on or off specific pixels on your screen. This reduces battery drain by not having the entire screen turned on.
Some devices use a combination of both methods for their AODs.
How to turn off the always-on display
AODs are a convenient way to glance at essential information on your phone, but there are times when the feature can be “too on.” Having a screen on at bedtime can be distracting, no matter how dim. And in Apple’s current implementation of the AOD, there are privacy concerns around people reading your notifications.
Here’s how you can turn the AOD off on your iPhone and Android.
Turn off the always-on display on iPhone
On the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the AOD is enabled by default. To turn AOD off, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings and click on “Display & Brightness.”
- Scroll down to “Always On” and toggle it off.
Turn off the always-on display on Samsung Galaxy
There are two ways to turn off AOD on a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone: the settings menu or the Quick Panel.
Using the Quick Panel:
- Swipe down on your screen to bring down your notification shade.
- Swipe down again to display all the quick settings.
- Tap on the “Always on Display” icon to turn it off.
Using the settings menu:
- Go to Settings and select “Lock screen.”
- Toggle “Always On Display” off.
Turn off the always-on display on Pixel
To turn off AOD on a Pixel phone, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings and select “Display.”
- Next, select “Lock screen.”
- Scroll down to “Always show time and info” and turn it off.
Should you enable always-on display (AOD)?
AODs are a great way to keep essential information available at a glance. By keeping a portion (or the entire screen) turned on, a quick glance at your phone lets you catch up on what’s new. But as with all features, AODs have a few trade-offs. Here are some of the disadvantages of using AOD.
- Privacy concerns. Especially in Apple’s current feature implementation, AODs display all your notifications for everyone to see at all times, rather than just when you receive them. You can take some steps to protect your privacy while using the AOD feature, such as setting notification previews to show only “When Unlocked” or “Never” on your iPhone.
- Increased battery drain. AODs could potentially cause significant battery drain when in use by leaving your screen turned on all the time. The exact battery drain by AOD varies by device. Due to their power consumption, AODs cannot work in conjunction with power-saving modes on both iPhone and Android devices.
- Potentially cause screen burn-in. Also known as ghosting, screen burn-in happens when overused areas on a screen deteriorate and look darker than those around them. AOD might cause this where the time and other icons are shown continuously.
- AODs are distracting. Having a screen on all the time can be a significant source of distraction when you’re trying to get work done or even sleep. The light from the AOD can be bright enough to keep you awake, and screen activity from incoming notifications can call your attention. Setting up Focus modes (on iPhone) or Do Not Disturb (on Android) can minimize these distractions from having AOD on.
Do you use always-on displays? Let us know in the comments!