Heads up Android users! A malicious image is roaming around that bricks most Android phones upon setting as wallpaper. For now, resetting the device seems only viable option to bring the phone back to life.
Wallpaper That Bricks Android Phones
It is not always a text that can brick a phone. This time a Twitter user with alias Ice Universe has highlighted a wallpaper that bricks Android phones.
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. pic.twitter.com/rVbozJdhkL
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) May 31, 2020
While Ice Universe mentioned about Samsung being vulnerable to it, another user pointed out Google Pixel as well.
— Sebastian (@seb3153) May 31, 2020
In fact, the bug even worked in an emulator with Android Studio.
Huh, tested this in an emulator. Crashes SystemUI. Checked for any odd issue with the image's header, didn't notice anything off from my limited knowledge of JPEG. It also ends properly. pic.twitter.com/s2m0q0WNqo
— Jason Ashley (@testsubjectname) May 31, 2020
Initially, this phenomenon perplexed everyone. However, scratching the surface revealed an underlying AndroidOS issue that causes the glitch.
According to 9to5Google, the issue does not impact Android 11, though it does work on Android 10. This happens due to the way Android OS (excluding Android 11) displays the image. Their developer Dylan Roussel revealed that the underlying problem exists with color management.
Briefly, Android supports sRGB, whereas, the image uses the RGB color space.
I won't show everything, but basically, the function doColorManagement of the ColorManagementProxy is called at some point. This function checks if the Color Space of the image is supported by the device. The image is supported by default if its color space is SRGB, or… pic.twitter.com/1Ga8DBTEEY
— Dylan Roussel (@evowizz) May 31, 2020
Thus, if the device does not support the Color Space of the image, the image will induce a system crash. While that is the case with Android 10, on Android 11, the system automatically converts the image to the supported type. Hence, no crashing happens.
Also, this shows that the problem isn’t only with the image in reference, rather any image bearing unsupported color space can cause this crash. AndroidAuthority has shed light on the possible causes behind this bug in detail here.
While the issue apparently seems harmless, it actually does cause damages. The victim is left with no option but to reset the device and lose all data.
Or, if the victim is lucky enough to replace the wallpaper in time, perhaps that will save the phone. For instance, if the user can turn on the device in safe mode and deletes the wallpaper, this will help.
Some Brands Immune To It
While the bug has caused troubles to Samsung, Google Pixel, Nokia and Xiaomi users, other users with Huawei and OnePlus handsets have marked them as safe.
Though, it is unclear how Huawei and OnePlus have managed to fend off this glitch. Also, Google hasn’t commented on the matter yet.
Fortunately, iPhone users remain safe from this bug. (Unlike the previous instance where a single text character bricked most iPhones.)
Hence, for now, all we can advise is not to try setting up this image (or any image that you see making rounds on social media, no matter how beautiful it is) as wallpaper. At least, don’t try this unless the matter becomes clear and a fix is out.
Still, if you are curious to see how the bug works, take a look at the following video by AndroidAuthority.