Galaxy S7 vs LG G5 Always-On Displays: energy-efficient or power drainers?


The concept of having a phone's display partially on during stand-by isn't exactly new. Even back in the old days, when Symbian was still a thing, some Nokia models gave users the option to have a clock shown on screen when the handset wasn't in use. But always-on displays have never been touted as loudly as when Samsung and LG announced their 2016 flagship phones. Both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, as well as the LG G5, have always-on screen functionality to set themselves apart from their competitors. This lets users peek at the time or see if they have any pending notifications at their convenience, without having to wake their phone up.

Now, we're not going to go into detail as to which company's always-on display is better from a purely practical, functional standpoint. Instead, we'll look into how much power the two solutions consume – a matter worth investigating, as we still live in a world where smartphone battery life leaves lots of room for improvement. And in general, keeping a phone's screen constantly lit sounds like a surefire way of wasting charge. Yet both Samsung and LG claim that their always-on display implementations draw insignificant amounts of power. Is this really the case, which of the two is more economical, and could you be better off not using AOD at all? Let's find out!

Labcoats – on!


Measuring a smartphone's power consumption is a tricky business, which is why having the right tools makes a great difference. At the heart of our experiment is the Basemark Power Assessment Tool – a high-precision instrument made to monitor and analyze a mobile device's power use right down to the milliwatt. In a nutshell, it measures the energy flow between the phone's charger and the phone itself when the phone's battery is 100% full. This is when power is drawn straight from the wall, not from the phone's battery, allowing us to get highly accurate measurements without physical access to the phone's internals. (To be clear, if any charge happens to be taken from the battery during testing, Basemark's tool can account for it when showing its measurements.) Data is visualized on a computer in real time, in the form of a pretty graph.

Here's the Basemark PAT in action:


Finding #1: Always-on Display on the LG G5 uses less battery power


After a series of tests and measurements, we found out that the LG G5 draws 70 milliwatts (mW) on average when its AOD feature is active. This makes it less power-hungry than Samsung's solution, which consumes 75mW in the best- and 105mW in the worst-case scenario. That's an increase of 7 to 50 percent. 

Finding #2: Overall, both AOD features draw very little charge


Despite the gap in power consumption between LG and Samsung's Always-on Display features, they both draw very little amounts of power. Relatively speaking, of course. On average, AOD consumes just 0.78% of the battery's charge per hour on the Galaxy S7, while the figure stands at 0.65% for the LG G5. This ranks as nearly negligible in our book. Besides, the real-life power consumption of having Always-on Display enabled is likely to be even lower since both phones turn their screens completely off if they are in a pocket or lying face-down on a table.

Finding #3: Waking the phone up yourself is more energy-efficient


If you want to achieve the best mileage with your Galaxy S7 or LG G5, you're better off waking the screen up yourself whenever you want to look at the time to check for missed calls. You see, Samsung and LG estimate that we look at our phones about 150 times per day. Of course, lighting up the entire screen, even for a brief moment, uses some amount of power, but having the Always-on Feature enabled on either phone has the potential to use several times more energy during the day's course. Assuming that your Galaxy S7 spends 12 hours in stand-by from morning until bedtime, AOD would eat up between 3.1 and 4.4 times more battery charge than waking the phone 150 times. AOD on the LG G5 would consume 2.1 times more charge. There's no denying that Always-on Display is a convenient feature, but if battery life is your top priority, waking up the screen yourself may save you between 4 and 9 percent of charge per day, according to our calculations.


Read more:


Related phones

Galaxy S7
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(28h 3G talk time)
G5
  • Display 5.3" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(25h talk time)

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36 Comments

1. FluffyBled unregistered

I'll take the one in the Galaxy S7 due to it's usefulness. G5's AoD is barely noticeable!

4. mistercarter

Posts: 360; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

the S7 AOD is worse than G5's cuz it only shows Samsung's apps notifications which is really lame... at least LG gives you the option to show WhatsApp or other apps

6. maherk

Posts: 6877; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

While that's true, I still don't have an issue with it, because I have customizable led notification in my S7 Edge.

7. mistercarter

Posts: 360; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

okay, but what's the point of an AOD then if you can't see alerts from WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Instagram or any other popular app? as long as Samsung doesn't fix that, it's absolutely pointless

9. maherk

Posts: 6877; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I mostly use it to check the time and date, as well as the battery percentage. Others might find the calendar useful. Again, I said I do agree that it should show 3rd party apps notifications as well, I just disagree that it is pointless.

39. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

If thats what you use it for Maherk then Motorola way of implimenting is like 10 time better. just a lil nudge on the phone or move hand over it and its show time , date , battery and notification then 3-4 sec after its close again.

16. DSJ3696

Posts: 37; Member since: May 24, 2016

Amen. The problem is even more magnified when you don't use any Samsung apps.. Besides, Android is just starting to catch up with iPhone as far as battery power management/efficiency (btw- I'm no i-Phan. I love my S7.. Just talking from experience.) This AoD is kinda counter-productive in my opinion. But that's just MY opinion. :)

29. ColinW

Posts: 412; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

To see the time that is all I need.

38. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well i respect thats. What i dont is how the writer openly say ALL notification when we all know Samsung solution dont give ALL notification.. Blatan lie..

10. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

The G5 AOD is worse as you just can't see it, when you are outside, it's way to dim.When Samsung opens the API to its AOD, then the G5s solution is not even in the same ballpark anymore.

37. xocomaox

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

Exactly, it's just too dim to see. This is where Samsung's is superior. I am still waiting for some API opening or advancement in features, but I love being able to see the time, calendar and battery notification at a glance. And since they upgraded the app, you can now have it automatically turn off AOD during a specific time (like during sleep hours) which causes far less drain.

20. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

The AOD by the app glance plus is much better than both Samsung and LG.It's a copy of glance plus on lumia phones,look it up at play store

2. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Instead of AoD i use a pitchblack lockscreen wallpaper, I think it is better like this because I always check my snapchat and whatsapp notifications (which aod doesnt show anyway)

3. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Im on the s7 btw

40. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Thats would use more battery than AoD.

5. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Is that rocketdock or stardock that I see? ;)

8. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Pointless test. Gsmarena had the endurance scores up and showed total times with and without AoD. Samsung showed the larger drop. Simple. Less efficient feature. Also, I know that stuff about AoD bring more efficient than waking up manually was a load of BS. This also adds credence to a suspicion I've had about LCD vs AMOLED. LCD power use is relatively stable, whereas AMOLED is more erratic. Anandtech agrees as well. AMOLED can a bit more efficient depending on use, but overall LCD is still slightly more efficient. Samsung just happens to be great at optimization, that's why their phones are so power efficient.

11. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

You are forgetting that G5 has way less brightness when in AoD mode compared to S7 version. Thats why it has little bit more "efficient" battery savings. Put same brightness on both of them and S7 will come on top by a mile.

13. Donone41

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 17, 2014

It has nothing to do with the efficiency of both display.

12. Donone41

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 17, 2014

Dude that comment makes no sense. LG'S always on display is way dimmer than Samsung's offering, so those numbers is to be expected. What's good about an always on display if you can't see the damn thing outdoors? Yea that's lg for you.

25. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

That may be the case, honestly. But I still stand by that AMOLED power use is more erratic. It can either be better or worse than LCD

41. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

What good for AoD when most of your app notification are not included? Best implimentation of similar feature are from Nokia and Motorola. On my moto x play i can easily i mean EASILY see outside. Its show me notification when they arrive ( screen light up ) and when i touch the phone ( even a small nudge ) or if i pass my hand over it. Its also include time and date and battery. So in the end i think this is better implimentation than both LG and Samsung.

14. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

But there were some dudes who where right out stated lg g5's AOD will gonna drain battery like river flowing in amazon basin!!!! And when we have phones with SOT of 6+ hours who needs that AOD there are more batter solutions out there!!

15. Eclectech

Posts: 349; Member since: May 01, 2013

Exactly what I suspected: The Always on feature...yet another gimmick, which doesn't save in battery power. I'll just wake my phone up at my leisure.

17. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Atlast it is gimmick, because it is not available in iphone 7

18. 0kax0el0

Posts: 238; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

I will have to try this on a S7 edge, but for the time being I think Motorola has the better solution.

42. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yep much better.

21. a1awan

Posts: 40; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

The difference in battery usage between G5 and S7 is 0.23%. What if Samsung lowered the intensity of brightness to the same degree as G5's...or what if G5 added brightness to the level as S7. That could be interesting to know....

22. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

70 is not 50% of 105. What kind of frikkin math are you guys doing? 70x2=140 70-105=30 so that would be about 33% more use of power. But Samsung's also offers more as you can have other notifications appear, not just a clock and date. Is that not right?

27. hmmm...

Posts: 81; Member since: Jun 05, 2013

Err... Phonearena's wording is not good, but your logic is definitely fallacious. Let's use simpler numbers. If your current electric bill is $100 and it increased to $150, it would 50% more, not 33% like you state. $100 is 33% less than $150 (using 150 as denominator) but $150 is definitely 50% more than $100 (100 as denominator). $200 is not 50% more but a 100% more than $100. Same with 140, 105 and 75. By the way, the difference between 70 and 105 is 35, not 30 as you stated. 140 is a 100% more not 50% more than 70. (105-70)/70 x 100% = 50% Just pointing it out.

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