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The first thing I do on a new phone or new laptop is find the setting to turn on the display battery percentage. It's much easier to read 78% than to try to distinguish whether six or seven pixels are filled in the indicator.

Why is the display of battery percentage most often off by default?

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  • Maybe I activated it automatically without thinking, but never saw what you say
    – Devin
    Jun 6, 2023 at 14:16
  • @Devin on Android, granted that you log in, I think it makes assumptions on settings from your previous phone, 'cause I've also never really noticed this. Jun 8, 2023 at 2:43
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    yes I forgot to mention I'm a heavy Apple products user and I only use Android devices for testing, so maybe I didn't pay enough attention or it is like you say, it identifies previous devices choices
    – Devin
    Jun 8, 2023 at 15:14
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    I had this question too. However, it’s about to be closed as ‘opinion based’. Maybe rephrase to ‘What are pros and cons’ of hiding the battery percentage by default? Hoping the question can be kept this way. Jun 26, 2023 at 21:56

2 Answers 2

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I have two assumptions, data and screen real-estate.

I think the phone's OS developer found that a lot of users were turning off the show battery percentage feature and were content with just knowing when their phone is low on battery. On Android, for example, I only start panicking when my phone hits 15% battery life. And I think this is true for most users and the data shows it.

Another reason could be real estate. Phones don't have much horizontal space available and no one in their right mind is going to be holding their phone in landscape mode each time they use their phone. So to give more room to show notification icons at the top, OS developers have decided to leave off certain elements that users disable often and I think the battery life value one such feature. Given that they also have to look into the data to make sure they are making the right choice, I'm confident that this is one of the reasons why the indicator is truncated by default.

An interesting read on the topic: Turn your battery percentage off, here is why.

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    This made me think a nice design choice could be to start showing percentage below 15% but not above it
    – filip
    Jun 13, 2023 at 8:48
  • @filip Yea, that sounds like a good idea. But it will have to be higher threshold for Apple devices btw, given that 10% can be 1% in reality Jun 13, 2023 at 9:02
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    Thank you for the interesting article link 🤩 +1 Jun 27, 2023 at 16:07
  • The article is wrong in so many ways. A) Charging a battery bw 20-80% is considered ideal. So, you aren't overcharging, you are actually improving battery life. B) the article sets a rule and breaks it immediately. Obsession doesn't come from seeing an actual number, it comes from habit. Whether you see 50% or a visual of a battery half-filled, it will have the same impact on you. In fact, not being able to tell the exact percentage would lead to even more anxiety. If your phone has a good battery capacity or fast charging, you would never bother until you are very low; percentage or not Jun 28, 2023 at 5:22
  • @ShreyasTripathy I can't confirm point A, but I do agree with the article, being one who has overcharged my devices 'cause I'm worried about it getting to 15% too quickly. So this is more of a personal thing, I'd have to go see what other articles say, if they agree with your point, or my experience. B on the other hand I disagree with. When a user just sees a bar, you don't know, so your brain is way less likely to panic. Now, it's not to say that one can't get into a panicky state nonetheless, different people behave differently, but I feel that showing the amount can lead to more panic Jun 28, 2023 at 13:16
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It's planned obfuscation.

Remember when operating systems used to tell you the remaining charge in terms of hours and minutes?

Those got removed for the same reason. If you provide detailed and easy-to-compare information to the user, you run the risk of comparisons and quick discovery of flaws. Just showing a battery icon which runs down pixel-by-pixel is an easy way of keeping the user from diving too deep into its capacity or life. What they want to convey is...

Our phone would definitely give you great battery experience so why worry?

The same happens with screens. Notice how most companies don't make their screens run on the highest resolution and refresh rates out-of-the-box but enable the most vivid colour setting and set the brightness fairly high?

The logic is the same. Most users wouldn't care about higher resolution or a higher refresh rate but they do care about it looking bright and beautiful. Give the user the most basic settings out of the box and let them discover and enable the rest.

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  • Charge isn't displayed in hours and minutes because there are too many variables that affect the remaining time for this to be meaningful.
    – Peter
    Jun 28, 2023 at 6:22

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