This Android Wallpaper Bug Can Brick Your Phone

By Tegan Jones on at

Today in Android bugs, it turns out that setting a certain image as the background on some phones results in them crashing repeatedly. In some cases, only a factory reset will fix it. Here’s what we know about this Android wallpaper bug.

Over the weekend renowned leaker Ice Universe tweeted about a bug that was allowing a particular image to crash some Android phones if it was set as the wallpaper.

“WARNING! Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially for Samsung mobile phone users! It will cause your phone to crash! Don’t try it! If someone sends you this picture, please ignore it,” Ice Universe said on Twitter.

While Samsung devices have been called out as being particularly susceptible, this issue has also cropped up on Google Pixels and other Android phones. While it doesn’t seem to effect all Android phones, it’s not worth taking the risk out of sheer morbid curiosity.

Both 9To5Google and Android Authority have been able to replicate the bug and have reported that setting the image as a wallpaper causes the device to immediately crash.

While rebooting the phone will not fix the issue, 9To5Google has said that starting the device in safe mode and deleting the image file might help. However, this did not work for Android Authority — their reporter had to factory reset their phone in order to resolve the problem. Other uses have managed to fix their phones by the deleting the file in between crashes or by using TWRP.

It seems that the likely perpetrator stems from the colour spacing of the image — Android’a SystemUI can’t handle it so it causes a crash.

While staying away from this image is the easiest fix here, this is unfortunately not a new problem. According to Android authority a similar bug has been floating around for years and no public action has been taken by Google to fix it. This issue related specifically to some Pixel phones that were running the Google Wallpapers app.

We’re not going to reveal the culprit image here, but you can watch a demo of how the bug works, courtesy of 9To5Google below:


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