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Photo man uploaded to internet ended up breaking people's Android phones worldwide

Photo man uploaded to internet ended up breaking people's Android phones worldwide

One seemingly innocent image caused chaos for many.

When amateur photographer and scientist Gaurav Agrawal uploaded a photo to the internet - he didn't expect it to wreck a lot of Android phones.

Agrawal snapped a photo of a sunset and later uploaded it on the popular photo-sharing site, Flickr for other users to view and download it for their personal use.

Yet when Android phone users - including those with Samsung and Google Pixel phones - came to download it, they ran into problems.

Some users reported that when they tried to use the image as wallpaper they found it caused their phones to glitch.

And it went downhill from there.


The devices would start switching on and off, requiring a factory reset - a process that wipes all data.

A wholly disastrous outcome for downloading a photo from a legitimate website.

Speaking about his accidental phone wrecking image, Agrawal told the BBC: 'I didn't do anything intentionally. I'm sad that people ended up having issues.'

Agrawal admitted to being an iPhone user and so was unaware of the problems his photo caused for the Android community.

'I didn't know the format would do this. I have an iPhone, and my wallpaper is always a photo of my wife,' he explained.

Reflecting on the time he captured the photo, Agrawal added: 'It was a magical evening.

'It was gloomy and cloudy, and we thought there wasn't going to be a great sunset. We were about to leave when things started to change.'

As a result of the widespread issue, Agrawal's Flickr post now includes a warning: 'Nothing is wrong this photo but I gathered that it was exported from LR in ProPhotoRGB format with is not compatible with Android phone for some reason.'

Sebastian Bednarek/Unsplash
Sebastian Bednarek/Unsplash

Ken Munro and Dave Lodge from security firm Pen Test Partners described to the BBC why the glitch might have occurred: '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.

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

They added that there are 'different ways of defining the colour space' and that's possible to create images with 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,' they continued.

'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.'

Featured Image Credit: Flickr / GAURAV AGRAWAL / Pedels