Update: As has been brought to our attention, there are other apps that do this, like Screen Filter and Lux.

When you're scrolling through a feed reader or Reddit in the wee hours of the morning on an Android phone or tablet, sometimes even the lowest of brightness settings can seem a bit too luminous.

Now, there's an app that, quite simply, allows you to plumb the depths of darkness that you had only dreamed of before. It's called Brightness (catchy, eh?). The paid version of the app will allow you to reach into what the developer calls "negative" brightness levels, though it's not using any crazy OS-level tweaks to do it. The method for reducing brightness below the minimum allowed by Android's brightness API is actually something of a trick: instead of actually reducing the brightness of the screen, the darkness is increased. Huh?

This is simpler than it sounds: Brightness uses Android's ability to "float" an app over the top of the UI, and places a black overlay on the entire screen area. Once you go below "zero" brightness, the black overlay appears and its transparency starts to decrease the lower you go. At 0%, the overlay is invisible. At -50%, it darkens the screen quite significantly. At -100%, your screen is nearly totally dark.

The downside to this, obviously, is that LCD panels will use no less power by going below zero. Still, if your eyes are annoyed by the brightness of your screen in very dark environments, this app is an excellent, no-root-needed solution. It's a little over a buck on the Play Store (the free version doesn't go below zero), so hit up the link below to give it a shot.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Daniel

    I've been using Screen Filter to do this for a couple years now. Works okay, but does make things harder to read sometimes.

    • drvadlamudi

      Same here. Works great for me though. It becomes harder to read if it is to dim. The app let's you adjust the brightness so I don't see a problem. It also helps improve battery life on amoled displays.

  • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

    Question is: will it dim my on-screen nav bar?

  • troph

    Night Mode, and tons of other apps have been doing this for a while.

  • Barış Şenkal
  • moelsen8

    Been using Night Mode for a long time, and Screen Filter before that..

  • Sandeep Gill

    I've been using Lux for a while now which is a great alternative that does the same thing plus lets you set custom automatic brightness levels.

  • Vito Cassisi

    Erm guys, this concept has been around for years. The original was Screen Filter, a very basic app made by a Google employee (also uses overlays). Then I wrote an advanced automatic brightness app called Lux Auto Brightness. I even e-mailed you chaps about it after I released it.

    • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

      Yeah, in addition to that, Lux is pretty awesome and has some amazing features included. So... no brainer.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      We added it up top - our mistake.

      • Vito Cassisi

        No problem, I was just surprised you hadn't seen Screen Filter before. That app is a bit of a classic. :P

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          In all honesty, I probably have. I just see so many apps 5 days a week now that remembering any of them is a challenge.

          • Vito Cassisi

            Someone needs to write an app for remembering apps... 'Appnesia'?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            You're a developer, right? Get to it.

          • Harjifangki

            Does Lux using the same concept? I mean putting dark overlay on top of the apps?

        • guyfromtrinidad

          Hey Vito, fantastic app man I initially heard about it on AAA on Twit.tv. I love your return policy, talk about total faith in your app

      • What’s In A Name

        You did not add Screen Filter yet. It's also a totally free app with no paid counterpart. With gesture feature of launchers(i.e comes free in Apex, Paid in Nova), it's pretty handy to use. I activate it with swipe down gesture in Apex, while reading books at night.

      • okungnyo

        You should add EasyEyez too.

        Because (and no offense to Mr. Cassisi or his hard work) EasyEyez is, despite its awful-sounding name, far better and superior to Lux. It dims the screen in a red/orange "softer" fashion, so you can actually see the screen while it's dimmed, and unlike Lux, is so much simpler to use.

    • Angela Withrow

      THANK YOU!! Your app actually worked whereas the brightness app did nothing!
      My nexus 7 is a little too bright at night to read on, even with the settings at 0% and the pages black with white writing.
      This app makes it completely dark if I want it to be! PERFECT!!
      Will post 5 star review!

    • Sean Lumly

      Your app is seriously great. I will be using it for my Nexus 7 which is way too bright at night.

    • http://www.twitter.com/iwinrar iWinRar

      Just downloaded lux lite pretty fantastic I will prob buy it in the near future and I never really buy apps unless I really like it. I am at -50%

    • Lorenz
    • Fellwalker

      And Lux is a great app. Thank you Vito for making my Androids fully usable including reading on bed with the lights out so I don't have to squint. When I read the headline of the story I thought it may be for Lux and was astounded to learn that it was for some new app .

  • Mr E

    I've been using RootDim for a long time. I'm honestly not sure if it works the same as ScreenFilter, but it doesn't give an odd tint. You can turn it down all the way to nearly black, at least on an LCD

    • Matthew Fry

      It does not use an overlay (so it doesn't mess with app installs). I was about to pipe in the same thing. The brightness goes from 0-255 and from what I can tell, Android will go no lower than 20. Rootdim gives you full control over it. Only downside is that it requires root access.

      • Stacey

        Hmm the default minimum on my Nexus 4 already appears to be 1. RootDim doesn't help here.

        • Matthew Fry

          Interesting. The Nexus 10 stops at 20. Maybe it's CM10?

  • gspida

    I wish google would implement the way ios does this with "black on white" I think it's called. I used to be able to press the home button three times and everything would have this negative look to it, very easy to read in the dark. That was back when I had a iphone 3gs.

    • Matthew Fry

      Samsung will do it with the browser. But honestly, I think it looks awful.

  • DeadSOL

    I've been using Screen Filter for years and loved it!

  • ash71ish

    No way better go for screen filter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shantanu.sj6 Shantanu Joshi

    Very useful for those who read at night in total darkness.
    Off-topic: Do any of you find the night mode of play books app makes reading difficult? For me perfect setting is a gray background with white text.

  • carlisimo

    I'm going to try Brightness.

    I've used Lux and mostly liked it, but sometimes it would either respond very slowly to changes, or respond too quickly and fluctuate like crazy. I finally got fed up and uninstalled it. But I do need something like this - my One S is way too bright in the dark.

    Personally, I think most mobile devices need lower minimum brightnesses and volumes.

  • Freak4Dell

    I must be the only one that prefers to blind myself. My devices are usually on auto or full brightness if auto is making it too dim. The only time I purposely reduce the brightness is when I'm trying to save battery in a pinch.

  • http://www.grantabraham.com/ Grant Abraham

    What, precisely, would be the point of having a free version that does not let you try its one and only key feature--the one reason you'd have the app at all?

    • Claw

      That's exactly what i was thinking :))

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    FWIW, here's what the developer of Brightness told me when I asked him about his competition:

    "Hello Artem,
    There are only a handful apps that do a similar thing, but they are too expensive, have too much features, or aren't that easy to use. Lux is €2,33 but has too much options, and there are some screen overlay apps, but I was missing a simple app with good usability."



  • carlisimo

    Why does searching for "brightness" in the Play store bring this up as the 60th search result?

  • Christian W

    Screen Filter and Lux have caused quite a few issues for some people. The overlays prevent a user from clicking the install buttons on sideloaded apks and apps from Amazon. The cancel works fine, but the Install will not register, unless this was fixed recently. This might also be dependent on what rom a person is running as well.

  • JamisonFrady

    Whoa! Hold on. Putting an app overlay that displays black should reduce display battery usage. This isn't like holding a piece of black paper over a bright screen, adding a black mask reduces the intensity of the light source in the display and really should have an effect on battery life. In theory, an app that displays a 100% black screen would use no battery for the display, while a 100% white screen would be using pretty much as much battery as the display could.

  • hndx

    I think easyeyez is the best app for this.

  • Suhas Vemuri

    Whaattt? Lux does all the things you mentioned.. Been using it since 2 years now.. Pls post the widget for lux as well.. we believe in you AP.. do the right thing.. and Mr. Vito Cassisi great job.. pls add a toggle to turn off the offscreen button backlight in the dashboard e.g. for the s3/s4

  • pino

    To bad there isnt a solution that actualy lowers the brightness so you save power. My tablet at 0% is so bright its insane and batt life is poor... (memo pad smart 10) so dimming the leds would ally help as its 70% of the total batt. usage.

  • Reggie

    The free app Night Mode is free and works best for me.

  • anonymous

    we really need one for the iphone,without the need to jailbreak.