'Don't try it': Why this wallpaper picture of a forest is causing Android smartphones to crash

Users reported that their screens began to turn off and on continuously the moment they set this picture as their background

With a forested shoreline, serene lake and the sunset peeking out from behind a mountain range, there seems to be nothing suspicious about the picture above.

However, a number of Android users have reported that their phones crashed the moment they set this image as their screen wallpaper.

Those who experienced the issue revealed on social media that their phone screens began to turn off and on continuously, with a full factory reset required in a few cases to restore the phone to working condition.

The bug seems to affect several phone brands using the Android mobile operating system, including Samsung, OnePlus, Nokia and Google Pixel.

Bogdan Petrovan, a tech journalist at Android Authority, said his Huawei was not affected by the bug. However, his Google Pixel did start malfunctioning after he set the innocuous-looking picture as his wallpaper.

“The phone immediately crashed,” he wrote in an article. “It attempted to reboot, but the screen would constantly turn on and off, making it impossible to pass the security screen.”

Petrovan said the issue was due to the colour profile of the image, “which exceeds the bounds of what Android can handle, causing a crash".

The issue was highlighted by reputed tech information leaker Universe Ice on Twitter, with dozens of other users confirming the bug.

“Warning! Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially for Samsung mobile phone users,” Universe Ice wrote. “It will cause your phone to crash! Don’t try it! If someone sends you this picture, ignore it!”

Ken Munro and Dave Lodge, from security firm Pen Test partners, analysed the photo for the BBC, and agree with Petrovan, saying that the bug is due to the image’s colour profile.

"As digital photographs have improved in quality, phones need to check what the image 'colour space' is to work out how to display it properly," they said.

"It's how a phone knows how to display exactly the right shade of green, for example.

"There are different ways of defining the colour space. Some spaces have specialist uses in graphic design, so sometimes you'll see images that aren't in the usual 'standard RGB' format. It's also possible to deliberately create images that have more colour information than some devices can handle.

"What's happened here is that the way some phones deal with these cases has gone wrong.

"The phone crashes because it doesn't know how to deal with it correctly, and the software developers probably hadn't considered this might happen."

So, if you're an Android user, perhaps avoid this wallpaper until a software fix is rolled out.