Dark Mode vs Smart Invert

An orange painted in blue and sliced in half with a blue background
Photo by davisuko on Unsplash

With advances in technology, the user experience on mobile and desktop devices has increasingly become more accommodative and tailored to suit the varying demands of daily life. From functionalities such as contrast control to light and dark modes, devices are built to adjust to the needs of users.

In 2017, Apple unveiled a new feature known as Smart Invert in its What’s New in Accessibility session. Since then, users have enjoyed the intuitive features it offers such as inverting white backgrounds of web pages and emails that you won’t get with dark mode.

Key Differences Between Smart Invert and Dark Mode

Dark mode: It changes the text, buttons, and other elements of the user interface so that most of your apps have a dark background.

Here’s how Apple put it “Dark Mode is thoughtfully designed to make every element on the screen easier on your eyes and is seamlessly integrated throughout the system. And it’s simple to turn on from Control Center or set to automatically turn on at night.”

Why is dark mode important? Using Dark Mode reduces glare when working with predominantly white interfaces. Additionally, it is useful on OLED devices like iPhone X and iPhone XS, which can illuminate individual pixels without using any backlight.

The fact that each pixel of an OLED screen can be controlled separately while emitting its own light makes Dark Mode an important software feature of mobile devices.

It’s also worthy to note that iOS 13’s inbuilt apps are already compatible with Dark Mode.

Developers are able to make apps compatible with Dark Mode thanks to Apple’s APIs. Many popular third-party apps have started offering their own dark themes; however, users must be aware that the app supports Dark Mode before they can switch UI themes through the app’s in-app settings.

Apple has a word of encouragement for developers “Dark Mode is a new dark color scheme that works system-wide and across all native apps to deliver a great viewing experience, especially in low-light environments. Dark Mode is available to third-party app developers for integration into their own apps and can be scheduled to turn on automatically at sunset or at a certain time.”

Dark Mode vs Smart Invert

As mentioned earlier, Apple demonstrated Smart Invert in the What’s New in Accessibility session a few years ago. Apple introduced the Smart invert function because the classic invert mode was non-discriminatory — changes the colors of everything regardless of the type. Smart Invert darkens bright and white content without affecting content like images and videos alone.

Dark Mode is more subtle than Smart Invert, which reverses the colors of the display-except for images, media, and some apps that use dark color styles-whereas Smart Invert simply reverses the colors of the display. Rather than inverting all colors, ‘Smart Invert Colors’ inverts only the UI, so things such as graphics, images, and app icons are also preserved. As a result, iOS 11 has a dark interface or dark mode, but the rest of the content is mostly unchanged

In some instances, dark mode does not work the same way as smart invert, for instance, dark mode will not change the white background of webpages or emails to black, but smart invert will.

Classic Invert does not account for already dark interfaces. Instead, it inverts everything. Invert Smart recognizes that the interface is already dark and leaves the colors alone.

For people with disabilities (Blindness, visual impairment)

At the moment, the best option for people with blindness is Invert Colors. Not Dark Mode, not Smart Invert, but the classic Invert colors. This is because no matter how intuitive Smart Invert is, a person who has low vision would benefit best from a regular color scheme invert.

When using Dark Mode, some elements will not be visible —  sub menus or radio buttons may disappear, while classic Invert colors will display such elements, so it’s generally better for functionality.

Equally AI has special functionality in its Accessibility Assistant that lets users invert all colors on a web page — catering to the needs of people with visual impairment.

Highlights of Dark Mode

Different look: Introducing the new Dark Mode option, which gives iOS and apps a beautiful dark color scheme. Designed for low-light environments, Dark Mode is easier on your eyes and won’t disturb those around you.

Smart Schedule: You can schedule Dark Mode to turn on and off based on time or sunrise and sunset, which is great when you’re outside at night or using your iPhone before going to sleep.

Wallpapers: Wallpapers automatically change as you switch between light and dark modes.

System integration: Dark Mode is seamlessly integrated into iOS, from built-in apps to settings to system-level views.

Works with your favorite apps: Third-party developers can use the API to implement Dark Mode in their apps.


Smart invert and dark mode behave differently. Users may even switch back and forth to find what works best for them.

With Smart Invert, Apple has improved its old “invert colors” Accessibility function, which inverts all colors on the display for users with vision impairments who experience discomfort staring at the default dark color scheme for extended periods of time.

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