The best wallpaper apps for your Android phone

Bored with your home screen? It’s time to spruce things with these smart apps that will give you live and immersive gallery options.

wallpapers android
Credit: Derek Walter
Get the look you want

Changing the wallpaper is one of the oldest and easiest ways to customize your smartphone. The practice goes all the way back to the early days of computing, when the first graphic user interface meant you could put some lovely trees or a beach scene on the background of your PC.

Android has always excelled in this area, offering you features like live wallpapers and third-party apps that promise to add some pizzazz to your background. If you want to ditch the stock wallpapers that came with your phone, then these are the apps to get. Many also replenish with a fresh supply so you’ll never run out of ways to liven up the look.

zedge
Zedge

Zedge is a great, all-in-one option with a bevy of wallpaper choices. There are fresh wallpapers served up all the time, both of the live and static variety. Pretty much any genre you can think of is here, with comics, nature scenes, landscapes, and urban settings among the choices.

The ads are a little annoying, but it's what you'll have to put up with in order to take advantadge of all these freebies. Zedge also goes beyond wallpaper, offering ringtones, icon packs, and even game downloads. If you want a free and easy-to-use option, this is a great place to start.

Zedge (free)

smart wallpapers
Smart Wallpapers

If you want instant access to key smartphone data like your RAM usage, unread message, or even health stats right on your wallpaper, then you'll want to check out Smart Wallpapers.

It makes your wallpaper smarter, since it can display tiny widgets with real-time data. They can't actively launch you into an app or setting, but if you're willing to make a little room on your home screen you can get a quick look at important statistics.

To get the full suite of options, including Google Fit integration, you'll need to go for the $1 in-app upgrade. Otherwise yo're limited to CPU, RAM, battery life and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Smart Wallpapers (free)

backdrops
Backdrops

Backdrops was and app I particularly enjoyed, mostly because I'm a fan of the illustrative style of wallpapers it had and the manner in which so many of them fit in with Google's Material Design langauge.

If you opt for the $2 in-app upgrade, you get to kill off the advertisements, choose from a larger selection of backgrounds, and the promise of more upcoming features. 

You're also able to upload your own images to the community. However, I found that often the photos were rotated 90 degrees to the left. It was an odd quirk, though not one that keeps me from recommending Backdrops for those who want some fun wallpaper choices.

Backdrops (free)

wallrox
Wallrox

If you’re more into patterns, mosaics, or other gradients for your wallpaper then Wallrox will make for a good option. There are a lot of neat patterns that will add a distinctive look to your homescreen. Some of the images are a little slow when they load, but afterwards they’re cached on your device. Head to the settings to clear this if you’re low on space. 

Wallrox uses a lot of material design elements with its look, which makes it feel like it belongs on Android. Instad of asking you to upgrade for additional features, everything is free. However, the developer has a donation button if you’d like to say “thank you” for all the hard work. 

Wallrox (free)

wallpapers for me
Wallpapers for Me

Wallpapers for Me is a great choice if you like patterns, shapes, mosaics, or other traditional and abstract styles of art for your background. There is a good variety with cartoon characters, holidays, nature illustrations, and art inspired by science fiction. If you like variety, you can tell the app to automatically change your wallpaper each hour. This is on by default, so if you find that you suddenly have a new wallpaper, now you know why.

Wallpapers for Me is packed with freebies, though you’ll have to ignore the advertisements that live on the bottom. It’s worth it, however, for the large and growing number of background choices.

Wallpapers for Me (free)

backgrounds hd
Backgrounds HD

Backgrounds HD is an ideal option if you enjoy nature, cities, and other real-life views. Though there are a ton more, including some live wallpapers if you want to create some movement behind your home screen app grid.

You also get to tweak the whole live look, with simmlated scrolling and the ability to have the background move between different screens. If you sign in with an account you can pin certain favorites so they’ll be with you when you switch from phone to tablet or score a new device.

Backgrounds HD (free)

muzei
Muzei Live Wallpaper

The product of Googler Roman Nurik, Muzei is a brilliant and extendable way to enliven your home screen. The wallpaper puts a blurry, yet live, background on your phone or tablet. But what sets it apart from other wallpaper apps is that it’s really more of a platform, as there are numerous apps that work with it. As an additional plus, you can sync up the wallpaper from your phone and an accompanying Android Wear watch, if that type of matchy matchy setup is your thing.

Muzei Live Wallpaper (free)

home
Paperland Pro

Maybe you were a fan of Super Paper Mario. Or perhaps you just like the look of paper, and think it would be great as your wallpaper. Either way, you may like Paperland Pro, especially if you enjoy live scenes on your wallpaper. 

There are several themes for holidays or other outdoor types which could make it an especially fun wallpaper to use during Halloween, the summer, or if you’re on vacation and want the ocean on your phone all the time. The app will set you back a dollar, but it’s well worth it for the fun and artistic designs that will grace your home screen. 

Paperland Pro ($0.99)

minima pro
Minima Pro Live Wallpaper

Lots of movement, minimalism, and customization all combine into a clever choice in Minima Pro. You can really dig into the choices to tweak the individual colors or go the automatic route and let the app select different wallpapers for you. It’s definitely one of those apps that has a material look for a natural feel on Android, with a lof of the customization that many Android fans enjoy. And the live movement is pretty neat, although with such wallpaper apps it’s always worth checking to see how they impact battery life.

Minima Pro Live Wallpaper ($0.99)

tapet
Tapet

The name “tapet” sounds like something soothing that will give you some calming influence. That may have nothing to do with the name, but I found that this wallpaper excels at giving you pleasant patterns that should stand out.

The $1 in-app upgrade gives you a lot more customization features and effects, so you can liven things up with moving shapes and scenes. Be sure to check out the Master Switch, as this is where you can tell the app to automatically change up your wallpaper from time to time. It’s nice to get some automation, but that means you may get some backgrounds that aren’t to your liking. In that case, just turn the feature off. 

Tapet (free)