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A Wallpaper is Soft-Bricking Some Android Phones

A Samsung Android phone in a bootloader recovery screen.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but set this one as your Android phone’s wallpaper, and it may have you uttering a select choice set of four-letter words. If you have a Samsung, Pixel, and some other phones, you’ll find your device soft-bricked, and only a reset or safe mode can rescue you.

The news comes to us via Ice Universe, a prolific leaker on Twitter. Yesterday he showed the image on Twitter and claimed that merely setting it as your phone’s wallpaper can brick many Android devices.

The folks over at 9to5Google, never afraid to test a wild claim, tried it on a Pixel 2 and confirmed the claim. As seen in a demonstration YouTube video, as soon you set the image as your wallpaper, your device will start blinking on and off. You’ll need to either factory reset your device, or enter safe mode and change the wallpaper to fix the problem.

It seems the problem has something to do with the color space of this particular image. Android tries to display images as sRGB, but the image in question is RGB instead. Android 11 can convert the file to sRGB, but Andoird 10 doesn’t. That finding is backed up by the fact that Android 11 devices appear to be unaffected.

Presumably, that means other similar images could also brick your device. And, thanks to Android manufacturer customizations, not all devices running Android 10 may be affected. OnePlus seems to have escaped the issue, for instance. When you set a wallpaper on an OnePlus device, it makes the change to the launcher and not the system.

We suggest not testing the image on your phone. Enough people from enough reputable outlets have already confirmed that it’s a legitimate problem. While you can recover from the soft-brick easily, there’s little point in going through the effort. Eventually, when all devices are on Android 11, the problem will be solved.

via 9to5Google

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »