Rare colour space bug causes Android devices to crash when this wallpaper is applied

Your smartphone could crash and be as useless as a brick within a few seconds of applying the wallpaper pictured above.


Well, what started as an observation by renowned Samsung leaker IceUniverse has resulted in tens of people confirming – on Twitter and over at Reddit – that this is indeed true.

When the wallpaper is applied either on the home screen or on the lock screen, the device crashes and now starts turning the screen on and off. Apparently, there is no way to get out of the resulting boot loop. No, “turn it off and turn it back on again” doesn’t work here.

The technical explanation as to why this is happening is rather interesting even though we don’t have any acknowledgement of the matter from Google, yet.

While it is advisable not to try this (though you can still go ahead and download the image and make such life and death decisions on your own), it is also worth noting that not all devices are affected. Users of certain Huawei smartphones are reporting have no issues at all, for instance.

Also, the bug appears not to affect devices running Android 11 (beta) which gives us our first hint as to what may be going on here.

“Typically, Android wants to display sRGB, but this image uses the RGB colour space instead. On Android 11, the system converts the colour space (if it’s not already supported), but on Android 10 it does not. This isn’t an issue with this image in particular, as others could cause the same problem,” notes 9to5Google‘s Ben Schoon while referring to that site’s contributor and Android developer Dylan Roussel’s summary of the issue as shared on his Twitter feed.

“The issue occurs when the user tries to set as wallpaper an image that is not srgb. What happens is that variable y value is higher than the histogram bounds, making sysui crash. One possible fix is to limit y value to be always less than 256,” reads a description of a proposed patch on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) site.

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Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com