Cursed Wallpaper : Cursed enough to crash your phone? Explanation


We never imagined that there will come a time when the whole world will be affected by Pandemic which won't have any cure. COVID-19 is the reality now. Even technology freaks and mobile techy never imagined that one wallpaper can literally crash there phone. That too a reality now. So what's special about this wallpaper, does it have embedded code? Why it is cursed? Let's find out.

Cursed Wallpaper : Cursed enough to crash your phone? Explanation
Image Source: hdqwalls.com

Referred to as cursed wallpaper, this wallpaper is making rounds on the internet for its destructive feature. That is whenever this wallpaper is applied on Samsung or Google phones they start rebooting again and again in a loop until you factory reset your phone. Some people, who tried to apply this wallpaper out of curiosity lost all their data, some recovered their phone through backup, while it dint do any damage on some phone. Because of the harmful nature of this wallpaper, it was named as Cursed Wallpaper.

About the photo:

This photo is originally uploaded on hdqwalls.com with a name “Sunset at St. Mary Lake Glacier National Park 5K”. As mentioned in the name somebody shot this photo at St. Mary Lake of Glacier National Park. This wallpaper seems perfect as it has landscape, water, sunset, mountain, a small raft, vibrant colours etc. Also, it has some more perfect details which we going to discuss ahead.

How does it work?

To know the working of this Cursed Wallpaper we have to know about the Colour Gamut. Colour Gamut is the whole set of colours we human can see. Refer to the below image.
Cursed Wallpaper : Cursed enough to crash your phone? Explanation
Colour Gamut

Within the Colour Gamut, you can see small triangle sRGB. It is small part of Colour Gamut which Android understands. Our Android phones work with sRGB colours. Even cameras, TV, Printer, Monitor are calibrated to sRGB colour space. There is also a wider range of colour space available which include more colours. After sRGB comes Adobe RGB and beyond that comes ProPhoto RGB. There are some more colour spaces available but for now, we will only understand these 3 colour spaces for our Cursed Wallpaper working.

So when we change Image properties from sRGB to Adobe RGB, more colours are added and the image looks more vibrant. Same happens when we move our image from Adobe RGB to ProPhoto RGB, more colours are added to our image. The Cursed Wallpaper which causes the problem is in ProPhoto RGB colours space. So when our phone converts it to sRGB, the conversion causes a problem and it keeps going in a loop, keeping it converting over and over again. During this time the phone lock screen continuously turns on and off.

Our smartphones are designed to convert other colour spaces to sRGB with ease. Most of the time it easily converts but not with this cursed wallpaper. So let's know the detail reason behind it. The Cursed Wallpaper has one pixel which Google colour converter cant change to sRGB because of its luminance. Luminance is the intensity of light. The maximum value of luminance of Red, Blue and Green is 255 and in any case, it doesn’t exceed 255. So when Google Colour Conversion programme, converts the pixel average value of luminance, it shouldn’t exceed above 255.

Luminance on android is calculated with below formula for Cursed Wallpaper

0.2126 x 255(Red)+0.7152 x 255(Green) + 0.0722 x 254(Blue)

So calculating above formula luminance value of this doesn’t exceed 255. But Samsung and Google phone use new Google colour conversion algorithm which does this calculation little differently by rounding each colour value.

Which ends up giving value

0.2126 x 255= 54.213 after rounding 55
0.7152 x 255= 182.376 after rounding 183
0.0722 x 254= 18.3388 after rounding 18

Adding all three values it gives 256 which is over the maximum value of 255. This one error by one number sends phone in a spiral loop to convert again. So when you apply this Cursed Wallpaper as your phone wallpaper it causes a permanent loop of errors where android cant fix the error and at last you have to Reset your phone.

Solution:

Android 11 going to fix this issue soon as they only need to do very few changes in their conversion algorithm. Many other smartphones are not affected by this problem as they used Google default colour conversion algorithm. If you want to set this Cursed Wallpaper as your wallpaper without crashing your phone you can take a screenshot of this and use. Screenshot or editing the photo make this Cursed Wallpaper harmless because of the colour shifts and value changes. Above picture of Cursed wallpaper is edited and safe to use. But if you want to download original image check hdqwalls.com.

Hope this article help you understand the working behind the Cursed Wallpaper. Do let me know through your comments.

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