Home Android Choosing the wrong wallpaper can bootloop your Android phone

Choosing the wrong wallpaper can bootloop your Android phone

Choosing the wrong wallpaper can bootloop your Android phone

Over the weekend, a photo has been making the rounds at venues like Reddit and Twitter. It’s an attractive mountain lake with the sun rising (or setting) through the dense clouds. Perfect for a phone’s wallpaper, right? Not if you like bootloops. Certain aspects of the image file’s color space trigger a crash in Android’s system UI, and most recent Android phones are likely susceptible, including Samsung phones and Google’s Pixels.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because just last month, the Google Wallpapers app was distributing images that caused a similar crash. The technical details behind that particular issue, which stretched back to 2018, weren’t ultimately divulged by Google, but the causes and symptoms were similar, so they may be related. It was marked as fixed two weeks ago with a solution coming in a future Android release.

More is known about this most recent issue, which is caused by the color space of the photo in question. It’s incorrectly encoded for the color space it is supposed to describe, and this results in a specific value at a certain point exceeding its defined maximum, forcing an out-of-bounds exception and crashing the System UI. Since the image is set as your background, this error will just keep happening, even in safe mode, and you’ll end up with a bootlooping, soft-bricked phone. The simplest fix is a factory reset, which you can thankfully do via recovery, though your phone gets wiped clean. One of our readers was also able to fix the issue on a Samsung device without wiping it, but you’ve got to be quick.

As spotted by XDA Developers, A simple fix has already been submitted to Google’s AOSP (Android’s base software) by ROM developer Davide Bianco, though another more complex and potentially more sophisticated solution has also been described by the folks at LineageOS.

Not all Android devices or versions of Android are affected by this issue. 9to5Google notes that Android 11 devices don’t crash because they’ll convert the color space in a way that resolves the problem. Huawei devices may also not be affected, and some more heavily-tweaked skins may also be immune.

While this particular wallpaper is easily recognizable, making it simple to avoid, other images could be similarly modified to present this issue. Let’s hope a fix for this issue rolls out soon, even though not all phones will get it too promptly (if they get it at all).

  • Thanks:
  • Kreeper,
  • Johnny,
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