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A Particular Wallpaper Causes Some Android Devices to Crash

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated September 23, 2021

Tech leaker and Android enthusiast “Ice Universe” has posted an image on Twitter, warning people not to use it as a wallpaper on Samsung devices. Apparently, there was something in the picture that caused the phones to crash, possibly even going into a boot loop. As expected, despite the warning, some tried it on their phones to see what happens. Thanks to these people, we now know that the issue affects Google Pixels, Nokias, and also Xiaomi devices, while OnePlus and Huawei models are reportedly unaffected. That said, it looks like there’s something wrong on Android and not on the system of a particular manufacturer.

After some investigation on the issue, the reason why that happens was unveiled. The particular image is causing an out-of-bounds crash because it is using the RGB color space, which isn’t supported on Android 10 or earlier. Instead, the mobile OS is trying to display images using the “sRGB” color space, which is generally preferred for its brighter color representations and smoother gamut. However, the lack of a proper interpretation system can lead to weird crashes like the one shown in the video below, where a Pixel 2 running Android 10 is struggling to cope with the image.

Android 11 will come with a proper color space conversion system, so this bug won’t be reproducible there. However, for the current Android versions, fixes need to be rolled out as soon as possible. Samsung has already taken note of the problem, and they promised to release a fix on the upcoming patch. As for the other manufacturers, they will most likely wait for Google to push a fix for this image formatting flaw, as this is Android’s problem anyway. Now that this bug is known, we should expect more of these images to spew out there, so be very careful with what you’re using for wallpaper.

Remember, an RGB color space image could put your device into a boot loop, and the only way to recover from it would be to conduct a factory reset. This means potentially losing all the documents, images, applications, and saved data on your phone. Alternatively, and if that’s possible, you may enter safe mode and try to locate and delete the nasty wallpaper file. Whatever happens, it is not worth the hassle, so don’t try to set the image as a background on your device just to see if you’re affected. You’ve been warned.



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