This Android Wallpaper Can Brick Your Phone

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Photo: Gaurav Agrawal, Flickr
Photo: Gaurav Agrawal, Flickr

There’s a gorgeous Android wallpaper making the rounds, and you should absolutely not set it as your phone’s background. It’s great to look at it, yeah, but it can also soft brick your phone when installed — especially if you’re running Android 10 on a Pixel or Samsung device. Here’s why.

Photographer Gaurav Agrawal shot the above image of the iconic St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana — an otherwise prime subject for a phone’s wallpaper. Agrawal tells 9to5Google that he exported the file from Adobe Lightroom in the ProPhoto RGB format.

That doesn’t seem terribly heinous, but it’s the source of the soft bricking issue. Android displays images in the sRGB colour space, but Agrawal’s photo uses RGB, which seems to have confused some devices and caused the crashes in question.

Clearly, Agrawal didn’t intend his photo to cause widespread soft bricking, but the good news is the issue isn’t permanent. Unlike a fully bricked device, a soft-bricked phone can be restored. Unfortunately, the only way to do so is by performing a factory reset, which deletes all of your apps and saved data.

Instead, sate your curiosity by viewing the original full-size photo on Agrawal’s Flickr page, or watching this video of the bug in action from 9to5Google instead:

Android’s colour space incompatibility bug may not be an issue forever, though. The upcoming Android 11 converts background images to sRGB, which should prevent bugs like these from emerging in the future. Indeed, some devices with the Android 11 beta are able to safely use Agrawal’s photo as their wallpaper.

Google announced its working on a similar solution for Android 10, but it might be a while before the patch is available. Regardless, all Android users would be well-advised to steer clear of the wallpaper for now, even if they’re running the Android 11 beta (just in case). That, or make absolutely sure you’re using a version of the image that’s employing a different colour space — even if you have to modify the original image yourself. Better safe than sorry.

Comments

  • I saw a video on this and the culprit is a single pixel that android cannot convert from Prophoto RGB to sRGB because of a weird luminance value, because the pixel RGB value was near 255 android uses a formula to give weight to certain colours (green then red and then blue) but with this particular pixel its combined RGB value was over 256 because Android rounds up the averages to the nearest whole number.

    This pixel’s RGB value was R=255 G=255 B=243, the luminance formula is
    R = 0.2126 x 255 = 54.213 – rounded up 55
    G = 0.7152 x 255 = 182.376 rounded up is 183
    B = 0.0722 x 243 = 17.5446 – rounded up is 18

    Added together the total value is 256 which caused Android to freak out and continually crash.

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