The Best Wallpaper Apps for Android – December 2017

When it comes to choosing a smartphone platform, it can be a difficult choice. Both iOS and Android each have their own flaws, and their own strengths. One of the many attributes that makes Android the first choice for billions of users around the world is the ability to customize the app in a robust number of ways. From the ability to change your launcher to the option to add all sorts of crazy and unique icon designs to the screen, the ability to change the way your phone looks and feels throughout the day can’t be discounted for a certain type of phone owner. Everyone loves the feel of a new device in their hand, and with Android, you can customize your device so that it feels unique and different every single day of the week.

There’s all sorts of options available for customization, but the simplest is often the best. Wallpapers and, more specifically, wallpaper apps are most certainly a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean some apps aren’t better than others. Whether you’re looking for something with a bit more flair, of you want something with some seasonal glow to it, choosing a new wallpaper is a great first step through the land of Android customization. Of course, it can be difficult to find quality wallpapers for smartphones on the web, and that’s why we have a wide selection of wallpaper applications to choose from. Not every wallpaper app will be everyone’s cup of tea, but for a certain type of person, you can be sure that there’ll be something for you. There’s a whole new world of wallpapers available on the Play Store right now, so let’s dive into some of our favorite selections and check out what’s being offered with this list of the best wallpaper apps on Android today.

Everyone else

We don’t love everything about Muzei’s execution, but at its core, it’s a great idea. The general idea behind Muzei, beyond its art-inspired themes (Muzei, of course, being a play on the word “museum”), is the ability to both dim and blur backgrounds, ensuring that icons, text, and widgets appear clearly on every display. One of our biggest complaints about design-heavy wallpapers is the difficulty they can often cause in reading icon names or weather widgets, due to the complex and often oversaturated wallpapers offered through applications like Backdrops or Google Wallpapers. Here, Muzei offers a great alternative to those apps, displaying an entirely new way of highlighting wallpapers. In addition to its painting-friendly stock backgrounds, Muzei also offers plugin support with several apps on the Play Store, including Backdrops and Wallrox. Instead of being forced to use Muzei’s daily painting feature (which largely works like the daily wallpaper feature we’ve seen from Google’s own Wallpapers app), you can use these add-ons inside of Muzei to take advantage of the effects and filters provided by the app. Unfortunately, Muzei fails in an important aspect: its usabilility. The app lacks a certain level of user-friendliness that often leads to confusion or frustration. Sometimes, selecting an option, like the check mark icon in the app, will send you back to your device’s home screen, or apply a setting you didn’t expect. Customizing the blurriness or dimness of a wallpaper involves several button presses to get to the option, and it’s hidden under an Advanced menu. Despite often finding the app’s logic hard to follow, however, Muzei is still a great wallpaper app in its own right. It might not be perfect, but it’s one of the few options on the Play Store that can customize existing wallpapers to make them more usable, and for that, it gets a solid thumbs-up.

When comparing the features between apps, Wallrock is far more similar to an app like Backdrops than Google Wallpapers. The app opens on a Categories display, with a card-based system that displays nearly two dozen types of background to choose from, including mosaic, low-poly, and geometric-stylized wallpapers available from the main display. These papers load quickly upon selection, displaying a large selection of good-looking wallpapers. The selection display shows the wallpaper at full-resolution, and even gives you several choices for applying the paper: quick apply, crop and apply, save, and back. Crop and apply is the selection we used most often, launching a typical Android crop window that allows you to zoom and scale the wallpaper as necessary to fit your needs. Once you’ve cropped, selecting done will apply the wallpaper. Quick apply, meanwhile, skips over the crop display and lets you automatically set the wallpaper as it was originally intended to be. One major problem with the app: it doesn’t seem to set wallpapers to the lock screen of the device, only the home screen. If you want to set your lock screen wallpaper to it matches the home screen on your device, you’ll have to manually save the wallpaper to your device and use the standard wallpaper selector inside your gallery app. Since this feature is offered by both Backdrops and Wallpapers, we were dismayed to see it missing here as an option. Still, something cool: Wallrox offers direct Muzei integration, allowing for the app to directly sync with the blur and dim effects supplied by Muzei.

If you’re not one for the standard, humdrum wallpapers we’ve seen from apps like Backdrops or Wallrox, you’ll probably fall in love with Tapet. Unlike nearly every app on this list, Tapet doesn’t come included with different wallpapers to choose from; instead, they put the emphasis on creativity and unique design by allowing an algorithm built into the app to create a new wallpaper for you each time you tap on the display. You can select from a number of options and patterns, then use gestures to switch between colors, shapes, and more to create a wallpaper that suits you personally. Tappet advertises their application as a machine-learning tool, allowing it to give users more accurate recommendations as time goes on. There are a number of paid patterns, but the app is usable in the free tier, allowing you to cycle through patterns, swipe to the right to change the color scheme, and swipe to bring back past patterns. Once you find a pattern you love, just hit the checkmark icon, and both your wallpaper and your lock screen will be set to the same pattern. If there’s one complaint we have about the app, it’s the automatic shortcuts for randomize, colors, and patterns it adds to your home screen. While it’s nice to see these shortcuts are an option (and they do work well), we’d rather have these shortcuts be opt-in rather than opt-out. Still, Tapet’s customization engine is perfect for folks who like a bit more originality in their wallpapers; it’s certainly a unique app, and it’s designed to fit similarly unique individuals.

Zedge is not strictly a wallpaper application, and it can be quite hit or miss in general use. In addition to the alarm, ringtone, and notification settings available on the platform, the app also has a huge library of wallpapers submitted by both professional designers and users. The wallpapers supplied by Zedge don’t have nearly the same level of design expertise as apps like Backdrops or Wallrox, but they will absolutely appeal to some users on Android. A large majority of the featured wallpapers, as of writing, are holiday-themed, with everything from snowflakes and snowmen to large photos of the Jim Carrey-version of the Grinch. Some of these wallpapers are better than others; for instance, one of the main featured wallpapers, “stars” by abej666, is relatively gorgeous, if not perfect for using with large portions of text on your device. The app doesn’t provide display resolution for each paper, unfortunately, which makes it difficult to select a wallpaper from the list while knowing for sure it’s good for your device. For anyone looking for copyrighted material, like the aforementioned image of the Grinch, Zedge is where you’ll find it. While you have to know what you’re looking for before searching, if you desire a Pokemon or Persona 5 wallpaper, you’re bound to find it on Zedge over other wallpaper apps. There’s plenty of more “traditional” wallpapers, including photos of models and cars, but in general, holiday and copyrighted materials seem to be Zedge’s specialty. If you’re looking for a way to deck your phone out with content from your favorite show, game, or movie, this is the app for you. For those looking for a basic pattern, however, you’re better off elsewhere.

While we do try to avoid including dead applications in our Best of lists, because their lack of development can often lead to problematic bugs or security issues, not to mention problems with newer versions of Android, we have to include Tholotis on this list. While it hasn’t been updated since November of 2014, over three years ago, it’s a must-have wallpaper utility. Even if development on the app has ceased, Tholotis represents the solution to our minor qualms with Muzei. The app itself doesn’t offer any new wallpapers, instead opting to use your current wallpaper or an image from your device (included downloaded wallpapers from other devices), and allows you to both blur and dim the image with an easy to use slider. You can save the image to your device and apply it directly to your home or lock screen, allowing you to bypass the bugginess we saw with Muzei. Tholotis only has one major issue with its general use: the app doesn’t allow you to set the lock screen as a combination or separately from the home screen, presumably because the app hasn’t been updated for newer versions of Android. Instead, to set both the lock and home screens, you’ll have to save the image to your device and use the system wallpaper settings to display your image. It’s a small complaint for what amounts to a great app, though, and despite the death of development on the project, it’s still a great utility to keep on your phone.

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