While there are many things to love about Android 12, we were bummed to find out that the screen-on time stat disappeared in Beta 1, and it hasn't returned in Beta 2 either. We were almost ready to accept that Google decided to scrap this useful statistical insight into our phones' battery lives, but thankfully, it looks like screen-on time is set to return in a future Android 12 update.

Left: Screen-on time in "Battery" in Android 11. Right: Nada in Android 12 Beta 1.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, so-called "screen-on time" or SoT is a common (but highly anecdotal) metric for measuring and comparing battery life. After all, standby time doesn't really matter for most of us past a few days; it's time spent while being actively used that is important. Ergo, Screen-on time: It's time the phone spent with its screen powered on. And though this is a highly subjective metric that can vary drastically depending on how you use a phone, it's a basic number most people have come to understand, even if you have to take any values that folk like I provide in a review with a grain of salt.

"Screen" was still there in Battery usage for DP2/3 (left) and displayed screen-on time when tapped (middle), but it's gone in Beta 1 (right).

On Android 11, screen-on time was listed in Settings -> Battery under "screen usage since full charge." That was removed when the "silky home" redesign rolled out in Android 12 DP3. However, it was still shown in the Screen section for battery usage sources (Settings -> Battery -> View battery usage) when "show full device usage" was enabled via the three-dot menu. Or, at least it was until Beta 1. Now, it's gone there too.

You can still see your "screen time" in the Apps section or Digital Wellbeing, but only for that day. 

You can still kinda-sorta see your screen-on time in Beta 1 and 2 in the Apps section of settings, but it only shows time gathered today. You could try to supplement that by adding up values across several days via the Digital Wellbeing Dashboard, but those blanket 24 hour-long measurements may have issues with middle-of-the-day charging or late-night use.

Luckily, it looks like Google wants to bring back the screen-on time stats in a later release of Android 12. The corresponding entry to the Google Issue Tracker has been marked fixed by a Googler who explains that "The issue has been fixed and it will be available in a future build."

Keep in mind that it's still unclear how exactly this fix will look like. As stated, Google still shows SOT values in other places in Settings, so the company might deem the problem fixed without any further changes. In a best-case scenario, we'd still get our old battery screen-on time stats back, though.

Folks like myself that go out of our way to do multi-day battery tests or anyone hoping to measure that metric across more than a single day will be out of luck without either a separate tool to surface the reading from the Android system or a dedicated app for the purpose.

Screen-on time will be back

Article updated to reflect that Google will bring screen-on time stats back to the battery menu in a later update.

  • Thanks:
  • Shane Milton