Android 13 introduces a flashlight feature that’s been on Samsung phones for years

The first Android 13 developer preview has been out for a little while now. It comes with a host of exciting new features such as dynamic theme for third-party app icons, auto-clearing clipboard, improved screensavers, and Quick Tap flashlight toggle. We’re revisiting flashlight functionality today, with the arrival of new brightness controls for the platform.

Esper’s Mishaal Rahman note that Android 13 introduces two new APIs – getTorchStrengthLevel and TurnOnTorchWithStrengthLevel — to the CameraManager class. The former provides feedback on the brightness level of the LED flash, while the latter offers control setting it as bright as the hardware supports. Together, they will give users the ability to adjust the brightness of their phone’s flashlight, instead of just being able to turn it on and off.


Despite Android 13’s brightness control feature, some devices running the OS may not be able to take advantage of it. This is due to limitations imposed by the Camera Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). According to Rahman, older versions of the HAL camera do not mention brightness control as part of their flashlight control functions. However, it looks like a later version spotted in the Android 13 developer preview for the Pixel 6 Pro will support both new APIs. This implies that other OEMs will need to implement the new HAL version of the camera for the flashlight brightness control to work, but they may not.

What stops them? Well, the Google Requirements Freeze program does not impose any HAL upgrade requests on OEMs to upgrade their devices to Android 13, so they could very well reuse old implementations. On the other hand, devices launched with Android 13 out of the box will likely support this feature, i.e. assuming that Google mandates support for the new camera HAL version. in its currently unfinalized Vendor Software Requirements (VSR) for Android 13.

If you’re using a Samsung or Apple phone, you’ve probably been adjusting your flashlight since the Stone Age. But with Google integrating it into Android 13, other Android makers should be able to easily implement it natively, rather than as a custom add-on.

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