Setting this image as wallpaper could soft-brick your phone

Editor’s note: Proceed with caution – this issue is real, and we don’t know yet why it’s happening.

Here’s a cool and a bit scary story for you this Sunday morning.

Simply setting this image as wallpaper on your phone could cause it to crash and become unable to boot.

The issue was reported by well-known leaker Ice Universe on Twitter and confirmed by dozens of other users.

I tested it myself. First, somehow foolishly, on my daily driver, the Mate 20 Pro, which doesn’t appear to be affected.

was able to replicate the issue on a Google Pixel 2. After setting the image in question as a wallpaper, the phone immediately crashed. It attempted to reboot, but the screen would constantly turn on and off, making it impossible to pass the security screen.

Restarting the device in safe mode (by holding down the volume button during boot-up) did not fix the issue.

Eventually, my Pixel 2 displayed a message saying the phone can’t boot and offered the option to try again (which I did with no luck) or factory reset the device.

A factory reset did bring my Pixel 2 back to normal, but obviously that meant losing all my data.

Many users on Twitter report running into the issue. As user Sebastian noted, the issue can also be reproduced on the emulator bundled with Android Studio.

At this point, it’s not clear what’s causing it, but considering it’s happening on devices from multiple brands, including Google, it’s possible that the image somehow conflicts into an underlying issue with the Android OS. It’s also possible that it was specially crafted to take advantage of an existing vulnerability.

I do not encourage anyone to try setting the image as wallpaper on personal phones. If you can’t help it, just make sure you’re okay with doing a factory reset.

Contact Information:

Bogdan Petrovan

Waqas Awan