How Many People Use Dark Mode in 2023? (Usage Statistics)

Dark mode has rapidly emerged as one of the biggest interface trends in recent years. But just how many users have embraced the dark side when it comes to their digital displays? I‘ll cover the latest eye-opening statistics showing dark mode‘s remarkable growth and its emergence as the new norm.

First, let‘s briefly recap what exactly dark mode is for the uninitiated…

Dark mode is an interface option that flips the typical light text on dark background to dark text on a light background. So instead of blinding bright white screens, things take on a darker, grayer palette.

It inverts the colors of websites, apps, operating systems, and devices to tone down the brightness.

Now let‘s look at some revealing numbers that demonstrate just how popular dark mode has become in 2022 and 2023.

81.9% of Smartphone Users Have Adopted Dark Mode

According to a 2022 survey by Statista surveying smartphone users of all ages, a resounding 81.9% currently use dark mode on their mobile devices.

That represents a huge majority of smartphone owners choosing dark mode over the classic light interface.

Diving deeper into the demographics, it‘s highest among younger users:

  • 89.3% of 18-29 year olds use dark mode on their phones
  • Usage declines slightly among older groups but remains over 75% for all ages

Clearly millennials and Gen Z have almost universally embraced dark mode as the default phone viewing mode.

As these younger generations grow older, we can expect dark mode adoption among all smartphone users to steadily rise toward that 90% ceiling.

This Statista data mirrors another 2021 survey of 10,000 mobile device owners by SellCell. In their results:

  • 83% of respondents said they prefer using dark mode over light mode.

So multiple surveys convergence around 80-85% of mobile users now using dark interfaces. It has firmly entered the mainstream.

Over 80% Enable Dark Mode Across Operating Systems

Beyond mobile, dark mode is also hugely popular across desktop and laptop operating systems.

In the SellCell survey, participants reported their dark mode usage on multiple platforms as:

  • 83% enable it on iOS
  • 81% turn it on for Android
  • 80% activate it on Windows
  • 76% use it on MacOS

This demonstrates remarkably consistent dark mode adoption rates in the 80-85% range both on mobile and desktop OSes.

The platform breakdown is also reflected in data from Mixpanel:

  • As of iOS 13 in late 2019, 55% of Apple users had dark mode enabled.
  • As of iOS 14 in late 2020, this rose to 70% of iPhone users opting for dark mode.
  • On Android, dark mode usage is slightly higher at 71%.
  • For Windows 10, 74% of users currently use dark mode.

Collectively, these stats paint a decisive picture that dark mode is the norm across mobile and desktop devices and operating systems.

Light mode‘s dominance is fading rapidly.

Platform Dark Mode Adoption Rate
iPhone iOS 70-85%
Android 71-87%
MacOS 76-80%
Windows 74-81%

And Growing Across Generations…

We can also break down dark mode‘s rising adoption across age groups and generations:

  • 89% of Gen Z use dark mode on phones
  • 85% of Millennials enable it on devices
  • 77% of Gen X activate dark interfaces
  • 69% of Baby Boomers opt for dark mode

So while strongest among younger generations, dark mode usage remains high even for older users.

As the 75%+ Gen Z and millennials get older, they will likely continue using dark interfaces. This points to usage growing over time across all age groups.

Most Users Expect Dark Mode Everywhere

Beyond system settings, 64.6% of users now expect websites and apps to automatically switch to dark mode based on their preferences, according to the SellCell survey.

This underscores how for most people, dark mode is simply the natural viewing mode they prefer across all digital environments.

Top apps like Slack, Twitter, Chrome, YouTube, iOS/Android, and even Facebook have added dark themes to meet rising user demand.

As expectations for dark shift, more sites will follow suit. We will likely see it become the standard design paradigm both for OS interfaces and the web.

The Rapid Rise of Dark Mode

When did the dark mode craze start taking off?

While a few isolated apps and platforms included dark themes earlier, the surge in dark mode adoption traces back to…

In 2018, YouTube rolled out a dark theme for its mobile and desktop site. This helped kick off more widespread interest from users and other tech companies.

The same year, Apple introduced dark mode APIs for app developers in iOS 12, laying the groundwork for system-wide support.

In 2019, Apple went all in on dark mode support with iOS 13 and MacOS Catalina. Users could finally enable dark mode at the system level rather than just individual apps.

Google also announced a dark theme for Android 10 in 2019 and started requiring Dark Mode support in its apps.

From 2018-2019, dark mode options began popping up everywhere in earnest. And users responded by turning it on en masse.

By late 2019 and into 2020, the statistics show it had clearly entered the mainstream. The rest is history.

Why Has Dark Mode Gotten so Incredibly Popular?

But what exactly is driving more and more users into the inky black void of dark mode? There are several key reasons behind its rise:

1. Less Eye Strain from Bright Screens

Staring at bright white screens in dark rooms can strain your eyes over time. The high contrast of glaring white backgrounds with black text overstimulates the eyes.

Dark mode flips that script by using darker backgrounds with lighter text for lower contrast. This puts less strain on your eyes during long reading or browsing sessions.

For the many users who spend hour upon hour staring at screens daily, dark mode provides a more comfortable viewing experience that reduces visual fatigue.

2. Better Readability for Extended Use

Related to less eyestrain, some users simply find light text on a dark background easier to read over long periods.

The lower contrast requires less eye adjustment to focus clearly. This allows you to better pick up details and read more comfortably without getting that headachey eye fatigue.

3. Modern, Sleek Aesthetic Appeal

Beyond the functional benefits, dark interfaces also have an appealing modern aesthetic many users love.

The clean, uncluttered look fits with minimalist interface design trends. For some it just feels like the way their devices should look – fresh rather than stale.

4. Improved Battery Life in Dark Mode

On OLED screens like newer iPhones and Android phones, black dark mode pixels are actually turned off completely. This reduces power consumption compared to illuminating white pixels.

While the battery impact is minor, every extra minute of usage counts for frequent mobile users. Dark mode‘s battery benefits make it well-suited for phones.

5. Less Sleep Disruption at Night

Bright white screens can negatively impact melatonin release when using devices before bedtime. This disrupts healthy circadian rhythms and makes it harder to fall asleep.

Dark mode creates darker ambient lighting that is less stimulating and distracting at night.

Many users enable it after sunset specifically to reduce sleep interference from device screens.

So in summary, a combination of genuine visual benefits and practical advantages are driving the majority of users to embrace the dark side. For most, it simply provides a better overall user experience.

Slowing the Surge? Potential Downsides of Dark Mode

Despite its huge popularity, dark mode isn‘t for everyone. There are some potential disadvantages to consider as well:

Readability Issues for Some Users

While many find dark mode improves readability, for some it has the opposite effect.

Folks with visual impairments like astigmatism often find light text on dark backgrounds cause eye strain or blurred vision after prolonged reading.

Additionally, in already dark environments like at night, the lower contrast of dark mode could actually hinder readability compared to a light interface cutting through the darkness.

So dark mode isn‘t universally better for reading – it depends on the user and conditions.

Loss of Visual Cues

The ubiquitous light interfaces of most operating systems and websites provide visual cues through contrast and color. These subtle cues convey what‘s clickable vs static, headings vs body text, input fields vs labels, etc.

By flipping black and white, some of those contextual indicators can get visually lost. This may make interfaces slightly harder to parse and use efficiently.

Aesthetic Mismatch

If most content on the web is still designed with white backgrounds, switching your OS or browser theme to dark can create visual dissonance.

The appearance becomes inconsistently inverted only in some contexts, which may feel awkward or less natural for reading varied content.

Negative Psychological Associations

While sleek and modern to some users, others may associate dark themes with gloominess, sadness, or depression.

Especially for those prone to seasonal affective disorder, the darker aesthetic can exacerbate negativity.

So while incredibly popular overall, dark mode isn‘t for everyone. Consider whether it works for your eyes, preferences, and contexts specifically.

Tips for Minimizing Device Eye Strain Beyond Dark Mode

While dark mode can help alleviate eye fatigue from screens, don‘t rely on it alone as a cure-all. Many users find it most effective alongside other healthy viewing habits.

Here are some additional tips for reducing eye strain:

The 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet away. This lets your eyes relax and refocus.

Proper Screen Positioning: Position the monitor so your eyes are level with the top of the screen and you look slightly downward. This reduces strain.

Adjust Color Temperature: Cool blue light can increase eyestrain. Use warm, reddish screen filters, especially at night.

Increase Text Size: Bigger text requires less strain to read. Bump up fonts a notch or two.

Use Matte Screens: Screens with a matte coating help reduce glare that leads to squinting and strain.

Applying two or more of these tactics in conjunction with dark mode yields the best results for countering eye fatigue.

The Future Is Dark

Based on its astronomic rise over the last few years, I think it‘s safe to say dark mode represents the future of interface design.

Some predictions for where things go from here:

  • Adoption will continue growing, potentially exceeding 90% across platforms
  • Dark modes will become the out-of-the-box default for most OSes within 5 years
  • More sites will support auto-dark mode and dark themes
  • Dark mode benefits will expand on OLED screens
  • New interface paradigms like Dynamic Dark Mode will emerge, shifting between dark and light based on conditions

The trend is clearly towards dark and it doesn‘t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. We are entering the dark mode decade.

So turn out the lights, fire up your devices, and get ready to embrace darker days ahead! But please be kind to your eyes amidst the shift.

Let me know if you have any other dark mode stats or insights to share! I‘m on Twitter @techguru.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.