One of the simplest and most effective ways to trick out your Android phone is to change the wallpaper. This is one of the most elementary customisation options available for Android devices. But even so there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind that can turn an OK background image into an amazing one. Read on to learn the basics of mobile phone interior design.
[Image credit: Pedro Vera]
1) Find out the resolution of your phone
Before you start surfing for suitable pictures for your wallpaper you should take the time to find out the resolution of your Android phone. Obviously the higher resolution the more detailed the background will be, but if you can find something that’s close to the screen resolution of your phone, you’re going to have a better idea of what the background is going to look like.
Android phones with large screens like the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S have resolutions of 480 x 800 pixels. Smaller screened Android phones like the LG Optimus and HTC Legend have display resses of 320 x 480 pixels. The super-small Sony Ericsson X10 Mini’s screen resolution is 240 x 320.
Ideally, you’re looking for an image that’s roughly twice as wide as you’re phone’s resolution, but the same height. So if you were looking for a background image for a HTC Legend for example, you’d want the background image to be around 640 x 480.
2) Find an image on your computer, or use one from your phone
Even though your Android phone comes with that all-powerful Google Search widget, it’s best to search for a good background image on your computer. This is because it’s easier to view and edit images on a larger screen. And, if you want to crop or resize anything then it’s best to do it with an imaging program like Photoshop or Paint.NET.
A Google image search is obviously a good place to start, as is Flickr. Better yet, upload some pictures you’ve taken yourself either on a digital camera or on your Android phone. Pictures taken on apps like fxcamera or Retro Camera are ideal background fodder.
Either email it to yourself from your phone or connect your phone to your computer via USB and transfer the picture manually.
Wherever you get your picture from, download/upload it and save it somewhere on the desktop, or in a new folder called ‘Android Wallpapers’ or something. Save it somewhere that’s easy to locate so you can find it later.
3) Consider aesthetics and your phone’s poor battery
Remember that you’re looking for something that’s going to be in the background of your phone, something that’s conceivably going to have a load of widgets, app shortcuts, clocks, calendars and the like placed on top.
Choose something that’s not too ‘busy’ or something that doesn’t have a huge amount of detail. The current background of the Nexus One in the picture above is a bit too hectic and isn’t particularly nice to look at.
Alternatively, you could let the idiosyncrasies of your background dictate the placement of your icons. On the HTC Magic we placed all of our icons so that they were in line with the buildings in the background. This made things simultaneously less cluttered and more visually pleasing than when everything was stacked on top in a basic grid.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that darker backgrounds, particularly on phones with AMOLED displays, consume less battery. So if you really wanted the folded out cover of the Beatles’ White Album as your background, just be prepared to charge your phone a little more often.
4) Resizing your image
Once you’ve got your image ready, open up Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro or whichever imaging program you use. If you don’t have one you can always download something like Paint.NET or GIMP for free. You’re just after something to resize pictures with, so in this case something free like Paint.NET is just as good as Photoshop.
When you’ve got your image editor loaded, open up your background file from where you saved it. You know how we mentioned screen resolutions earlier? Well this is where that comes in handy.
Like we said, a good rule of thumb is to aim to have an image that’s at least twice as wide as the total screen resolution of your phone and as high. Bearing this in mind, change the width or height of the image accordingly by using the Resize Image tool. Make sure you have the ‘Constrain Proportions’ tick box checked, or your image might end up looking warped.
If you’ve resized an image to the requisite height or width but it’s still a little too big on either dimension you can manually crop the sides, or use the Canvas Size tool to adjust the dimensions.
5) Upload it to your phone, set it as your background and admire
Once you’ve cut, cropped and resized the wallpaper as necessary, save it as a JPEG and transfer it to your phone. You can transfer your new background by emailing it to yourself or sending it to your phone via USB.
Once the picture is transferred to your phone, long click on your home screen until the menu pops up. Select ‘Wallpapers’ and then choose ‘Gallery’. Search through the gallery until you find your picture, click ‘save’ and your new masterpiece will be magically set as the wallpaper of your phone.
Alternatively you can simply browse the default gallery, select the picture, press the menu key and then go More > Set As and choose the wallpaper option.