Amongst the most fun aspects of having a smartphone is the ability to enjoy your favorite scene or wallpaper as your background. The Android operating system allows for live wallpapers, which are animated or interactive scenes that work as your phone’s home screen image. The newest offerings are eye-catching as well as functional, providing dynamic backgrounds that feature minimal textures, weather-based animations, and outer space or deep sea wonders. Applying a live wallpaper is easy. Here’s how to do it in Android 10 or Android 11.
- Download a wallpaper from the Google Play store.
- Press and hold on any home screen.
- Tap the Wallpaper & Theme icon at the bottom of the screen or Wallpaper & Styles from the pop-up menu.
- Tap Live Wallpapers.
- Select a live wallpaper from the list.
- Alternately, just tap on the Wallpaper app icon and follow the prompts to adjust the settings.
- If you’re using a weather-based app, be sure to enable your location.
- Tap Apply or Set to set the live wallpaper as your background.
Note: Your instructions may differ slightly from those above. Each manufacturer tends to use a slightly different method to change wallpapers, but the basics are similar, and you should be able to find your way through with some exploration.
Here are our top picks for the best free live wallpapers for Android. Note that some of these apps are older and have not been updated recently, but they still work as advertised and remain highly-rated user favorites.
Got an iPhone? No worries. You can also apply live wallpapers on the iOS platform.
4D Live Wallpaper
The 4D Live Wallpaper app offers a huge selection of AMOLED 4D backgrounds, HD, and animated live wallpapers complete with 3D, depth effects, and video. Styles range from geometrics to 3D parallax with 4D depth effects visible when you tilt your device to activate its gyroscope or accelerometer motion sensors. Choose from 3D images of superheros, space, black neon, flaming skulls, and other such dramatic options. There are also puppies, roses, marble patterns, unicorns, glitter, anime, you name it — anything to suit your identity and mood.
Oajoo Device Info Wallpaper
Geeks ahoy! The Oajoo Info Wallpaper app gives you the immediate lowdown on all your device data — right on your wallpaper. Check for storage and memory free space, battery level, temperature, voltage, CPU load and speed, gyroscope, pressure, light, processor cores, compass, and date and time. It’s all there at a glance.
Fish Live Wallpaper
If you’re fond of aquatic creatues, don’t miss Fish Live Wallpaper. Use it to set a beautiful 3D screen where you can observe a vast variety of fish in your own personal aquarium. Watch the fish swim, float, and race. Add flowers, rocks, and mountains to the foreground, and watch animated air bubbles and numerous 3D effects. Check out all kinds of fish species including pearl gourami, goldfish, swordtails, and many more. Best of all, when you tap the fish, they react, giving a fun interactive element that really brings them to life.
Forest Live Wallpaper
Forest Live Wallpaper depicts an animated dense forest set against majestic mountains and boasts a bevy of dynamic features. An intuitive day-night cycle gradually brightens and fades the wallpaper’s colors to match the time of day, and a star-peppered sky appears after dusk. The trees also move as though they’re experiencing wind. While it has stopped providing weather information, it’s still a lovely, inspirational live wallpaper app.
Raindrops Live Wallpaper 8
Lots of us love to watch and listen to rain on a window, and the Raindrops Live Wallpapers means you can observe rain against glass any time you fire up your phone. The live wallpaper, which features high-definition video footage of raindrops on a window pane, has more to offer than just rain and gray skies. A subtle blur effect prevents the drops from obscuring your shortcuts and widgets, and the wallpaper is optimized to consume minimal resources to preserve your phone’s battery.
Stalker Cat Live Wallpaper
If you’ve ever wanted a cat without the hassle of changing litter or stocking your living room with squeak toys, Stalker Cat Live Wallpaper might be your best bet. The live wallpaper features a mischievous, silhouetted black cat that moves around the edges of your screen. It pops up from random locations along the edge of the screen and gets smug if it thinks you haven’t spotted it. Anne Pätzke — the artist behind the wallpaper — has designed the little creature to be “subtle and enchanting,” and we couldn’t agree more.
Paperland is a beautiful realization of a two-dimensional parchment world. The free version features the themes Beach, Silent Night, Desert Migration, and Grass, each of which comes with the same customizable aesthetics. You can choose a fixed time of day, or let the sun rise and set in sync with the local time. Additional options let you alter specific scenic elements, like tree leaves and the height of various hills, in addition to kinetics like scroll speed.
The Galaxy collection is a robust offering that includes choices like Ice, Inferno, or Vortex Galaxy renditions, though we prefer the Shadow version because it functions as a dark, subtle background. The wallpaper places your device in the middle of a star-emblazoned galaxy, much like a spacecraft surveying the universe. Customizable parameters include the number of stars and the animation speed of celestial bodies, but the defaults are a great place to get started. It’s eye-popping.
If you want to know when to break out the rain boots or the snow shoes or just slide on the flip flops, a dynamic weather wallpaper is a great option. Weather Live provides an up-to-date collection of climate stats not only from your neighborhood, but also from around the world. You can also assign effects like raindrops, light streaks, and faded colors, allowing your phone to better reflect current conditions. You can even check the real-time forecast with satellite data, and the built-in algorithms prolong battery life.
New Emoji Live Wallpaper 2021
Emoji Live Wallpaper provides a lively-colored, high-definition background featuring cute, cuddly, and sparkly emoji. Each time you swipe or tap the screen, they smile in response or show their affection with charming streams of animated red hearts. There’s more than enough emo to go around. The wallpaper is customizable — you can increase the speed, size, and density of the elements — so you can quickly tailor it to your liking. The wallpaper’s battery efficiency is also a plus.
Muzei Live Wallpaper
If you’re an art aficionado, Muzei Live Wallpaper refreshes your home screen with works of art from famous painters that recede into the background, blurring and dimming to keep the focus on your icons and widgets. Not into famous paintings? No problem: The app can also pull your own art and photos to set as rotating wallpaper every few hours. It can also import galleries from other apps that you have installed.