The best iPhone wallpapers
There are two bad things about iPhones. They cost a small fortune, especially in the case of recent models like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S, and they're so common many think of them as the ‘default’ phone.
Wallpapers let you add a bit of specific design personality to your mobile, and you’ll find thousands of them online for free. Finding the gems among them takes some effort, though.
You don’t want one that pulls focus away from your app icons, but most people don’t want a pure block of color either.
We’ve pulled together 20 that work well and should suit a whole range of tastes. So don’t be surprised if you’d never let some of them grace your iPhone.
Changing your iPhone's wallpaper
First, though, let’s look at how to change the wallpaper on your phone. There are a few ways to do this, but we’ll go for the most fool-proof of the lot.
Step one is to get the image downloaded to your phone. Long-press the image in question to bring up the sharing menu. Then press the Save Image button. This saves the file to your iPhone’s gallery.
Next, head to the Settings menu and select Wallpaper. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper, then Camera Roll, which holds all your photos and saved images.
Tap the wallpaper you want, then use the pinch gesture to crop the image if you like. On this screen you can also choose to use a “perspective” or “still” wallpaper style. Perspective makes the image move slightly as the iPhone is tilted.
Now, onto the wallpapers.
If you want a wallpaper that doesn’t interfere with the clarity of your home screen at all, look for a gradient like this. It’ll add color without introducing background objects that might confuse your eyeballs.
A repeating pattern and cute animal: core elements of a great wallpaper. Keep just a few icons on your lead home screen and you can keep the cat fully visible if you like too.
Subtler than it looks, this illustrated starry sky fades out towards the edges, giving your app icons more of the spotlight.
Is it camera bokeh? Are those just dots? Here you get the character of a DSLR camera image, but it’s really a non-repeating pattern of translucent dots on a dreamy background.
This one is a real case of two halves. Dark down below, bright up top. Stick to a few icons at the top of your lead home screen and they’ll appear to float in the clouds.
Here’s a wallpaper made from an image used in an Apple MacBook launch. It’s one way to show off quite how much of an Apple fan you are.
A tree and the sky
See this sort of image on Facebook and it’d probably have a banal ‘inspirational’ quote above it, but it also makes a stunning wallpaper, one with a cool, relaxing color temperature.
If you like a bit of futurism, geometric abstraction or a bit of Escher in your art, this wallpaper should appeal. It’s by artist Mariya Moshchenskaya.
The sort of look you might find in a trendy stationer’s, this wallpaper gives your iPhone a hint of cuteness without going full kawaii.
Illustrations can work well as wallpapers. This piece of art by Judy Kaufmann almost looks like a pattern, but look properly and you’ll see it’s a whole bed of characters. One for the Keith Haring fans out there.
Pastel blues and greens matched with ultra-warm whites make this mountainous wallpaper very easy on the eyes. Look at it with a soft focus and it almost looks like a series of overlapping waveforms. As ever, patterns work.
Wallpapers don’t have to be artsy, they can just be pictures of places you’d want to visit. Who wouldn’t want to hang out here? If you’re looking for an image like this, make sure the focal point isn’t too low down or it’ll be blocked off by the icon dock at the bottom. This one fits perfectly.
Don’t cross the streams! If you don’t care about the rule book, check out this ultra-colorful wallpaper, used on some of Samsung’s Galaxy phones.
So minimal it barely looks like a wallpaper at all, but this will make your icons extremely clear. The off-center diagonal and low-key tiled gradient look cool too.
Blue pattern in water
How do you make an almost single-color wallpaper look truly dramatic? Use dye dipped in a liquid, that’s how.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa
Based on Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa masterwork, you get extra cultural points with this wallpaper. The wave-free top half also lets you fit in plenty of app icons without treading on the graphic.
If an image would make a good wall hanging or rug design, it’ll probably be a good wallpaper too. This image is real-life wallpaper, so your bedroom can match your phone. Too much?
A classic from the Apple wallpaper archives, this is an image of Yosemite national park, which also provided the name for OS X 10.10, used by Macs. Nice view, isn’t it?
Wallpapers work best when they act as backgrounds. This one takes a very camera-led approach, shot using a wide aperture lens to blur the field into oblivion.
The KISS (keep it simple, stupid), philosophy is a good one to follow for wallpapers. This series of colored lines looks great on an iPhone screen, and has enough of a design edge to clearly be made by an artist, not something you knocked up in MS Paint. It was made by architect/artist Kai Ming Wong.