This is what happens when the movie is HDR and everything else is not
Watching HDR content on your phone can be a great time. However, it is not so funny when a toast alert appears or even when the playback interface disappears. All the bright graphics seem to strike your eyes as if they have nothing to look at. What gives? Well, it comes down to how your Android device handles mixing standard dynamic range or SDR content with HDR content. And yes, there is a solution to this going on.
Take a look at a specification device specification sheet and you will find that the monitor can have two specific maximum brightnesses: a typical brightness and a peak brightness. You get the maximum benefit from typical brightness in most situations where you expect a steady brightness across the screen, but when it comes to watching HDR content, having access to an extended brightness range is the key to getting the important parts of scenes to appear. .
By default, when the operating system detects HDR content, it puts the screen brightness on top of what it can deliver, so that it can provide the best possible image. However, the rest of the user interface is not encoded for HDR, and what usually ends up happening is that these SDR elements are also displayed at the maximum brightness level. This applies to alerts, the status bar, captions and most other overlays. Any interruptions that pull on these UI elements will not be a welcome sight.
However, there is hope on the horizon: in his Android Dessert Bites newsletter, Espers Mishaal Rahman invented an ongoing feature called SDR dimming that will scale down the brightness level of these SDR elements on the screen while the device is set to HDR content. It’s been working since the development cycle for Android 12 and it looks like it’s going to need more dependencies to start working before it can actually work (Rahman tried switching switches to see if he could break the force feature) and it’s not clear if it will be available when Android 13 becomes stable. That said, it is one of the quality of life things people can appreciate when, for example, they are stuck on a cramped night bus with no chance of sleeping. The sooner it can be taken out, the better.
We definitely recommend checking out the entire article for an explanation of how dimming will work and where these code lines need to be connected.