One of our favorite things about Android is how customizable it is. But you don’t need to start installing themes or messing around with rooting to make your phone looks great, you can do it simply by adding a pretty wallpaper. Here are some of the best free wallpaper apps for Android.
HPSTR: for trendy geometryWhen a simple image isn't enough, HPSTR is there to add a filtered shape overlay. Images come from Reddit, 500px and Unsplash, and the selection can be filtered through a choice of categories. Then you get to pick your shape and filter. It's surprisingly fun.
With a paid upgrade, you get access to a host of additional features, mostly customization options. The free version offers plenty to play with though, and will get your phone looking cool enough to pull out at the next Tame Impala gig.
Hipster wallpaper - HPSTR
Plastexo: for select minimalist varietyPlastexo is essentially a wallpaper gallery, and it's as clean and simple as the wallpapers it provides. The selection is not that extensive – it offer 110 wallpapers – but has enough variety to cater to anyone interested in some minimal designs for their device. The quality of the selection is top-notch too.
All the designs are created by Mowmo, a great Android designer, who is worth following on Twitter if you like his style.
Plastexo - Wallpaper
Tapet: for a taste of the infinite'Tapet' is an archaic word for a decorative wall-hanging, but the Tapet app is anything but archaic. It generates endless wallpapers set to your device's screen size using a variety of patterns and colors. Using simple swipe gestures, you can change the pattern, but keep the colors, keep the colors but change the pattern, get a whole new design, or go back through previous designs.
You can customize how frequently you see certain patterns or colors in the settings, and once you've arranged things to your liking, you can set the app up to change your wallpaper on a regular basis, so you never have to worry about choosing another wallpaper again. It has a pleasing parallax effect when you scroll through pages, too.
Tapet - Infinite Wallpapers
Minima: for parallax loversThe parallax feature on newer devices is a simple but pleasing addition to smartphones. Tilting the screen results in the background moving, making it appear three-dimensional. Minima takes full advantage of this feature, producing wallpapers designed to look great when the screen is tilted around. All the wallpapers are cleanly designed, and a lot of them have a hand-made feel.
The free version gives you 35 themes and most of the options, which is plenty. Upgrading gets you 90 themes, full editing options and lets you set automated wallpaper changing. Try the free version and see if you think the upgrade is worth it.
Minima Live Wallpaper
500 Firepaper: for slick, automatic wallpaper changes500px is a website where some great photographers post their work. With the 500 Firepaper app, you can see their art on your phone. One of the most impressive aspects of 500 Firepaper is that you can specify how often the images change, and you can decide which categories images are selected from.
To give you an idea of 500 Firepaper's capabilities, you can set the background image to change every time you unlock your phone, or whenever you tap an image with three fingers; it's great functionality. Just watch that your internal storage space doesn't run out.
Wallmax: for niche wallpapers you won't find elsewhereAlphawolf’s Wallmax is something of a hidden gem. It's had a relatively low number of downloads, but provides some stunning wallpapers. It’s not the smoothest app: images take a while to load, and there are bugs galore, but this the price you pay for a cool, free, underground app that none of your friends have.
Quick-tip: Wallmax’s default wallpaper selection menu doesn’t load much. You need to set the search criteria yourself first to view anything. Just select to search by views, date added or something else, and the list will populate.
Zedge: for one of the biggest and best wallpaper selections on AndroidZedge doesn’t just offer wallpapers: it has themes, ringtones and notification sounds too, although the wallpaper library is why it’s in our list today. The wallpaper collection is massive – more than 11,000 – but also easy to navigate, and the extensive sort features make it easy to track down exactly what you’re looking for.
ZEDGE™ Ringtones & Wallpapers
Backgrounds HD Wallpapers 50M+: for a professional app and large communityBackgrounds HD offers free wallpapers for Android from artists all over the world, and it features more than 7,000 high-quality wallpapers to personalize your phone. You can crop and set wallpapers to fit your screen or just highlight the best bits, share on social networks and submit your own backgrounds for others to admire.
Backgrounds HD (Wallpapers)
Muzei Live Wallpaper: for art and live wallpaper fansFeeling a bit arty? Fancy some Van Gogh on your Moto G or Gauguin on your Galaxy Alpha? Muzei Live Wallpaper gently refreshes your screen with famous works of art from as well as high-quality photography. It keeps the images faded in the background to emphasize your icons and indicators but will show them in their full glory when you double-tap.
Like Cool Wallpapers, Muzei supports Android Wear too, so you can wander around with a masterpiece on your wrist as well as in your pocket.
Muzei Live Wallpaper
Shake Them All! Live 2 Wallpaper: for those who want something quirkyThis one’s a lot of fun: Shake Them All! Live 2 Wallpaper features tumbling androids and a physics engine that means they react to gravity, shakes, touches, light and sound. We like to imagine that they’re real people, that our phone is a tower block and that we’re angry giants who laugh as we throw them around like dolls, jab them and generally make them feel like rush hour commuters.
Shake Them All 2
Transparent Screen: for those who want something uniqueOK, this isn’t strictly a wallpaper app. But it’s related, because what Transparent Screen does is make your phone’s screen transparent by showing you what the phone’s camera sees. If you’re the kind of person who gets so engrossed in your phone that you don’t notice the world around you, this app could prevent hilarious-sounding yet potentially lethal encounters with public transport, cliffs, opened mineshafts and bear pits.
Just watch the battery life: live-viewing your camera isn’t great if it’s going to be a long time until you’re next near a charger.
Honorable Mention: WhatsApp WallpapersTo complement the best Android messaging app around, WhatsApp Inc has created a pretty fine wallpaper collection to spruce up your conversation backgrounds. They’re slick, unobtrusive, and will make your friends say “how does your WhatsApp look so gosh darn funky?!” Give it a try.
WhatsApp Wallpaper Have you found a cool wallpaper app for Android or a live wallpaper that made you laugh? Tell us about it in the comments.