Since the switch from Android 2.x (2.3.7) to 4.0.4 ICS I notice that all my contact's pictures are blurry.

Some of them come from g+ profiles but most are self added on a gingerbread phone.

Why are they blurry and how can I fix this?

PS: my own picture I reuploaded via the talk app is still low res and upscaled in the phone app. I also have a public profile pic that i updated at the same time.

  • What device do you have and what ROM are you using? I only have this problem when the pictures, themselves are blurry-- But since you've added some yourself, I don't think that's the issue. Have you tried re-setting any of these pictures? A lot of the ones uploaded from G+ and FB show up blurry for no good reason, really. – rm-vanda Jun 27 '12 at 2:29
  • It's device independant (ICS + at least 800x480). Strange thing is: Re-uploading worked on some pics except my own profile pic – ce4 Jun 27 '12 at 4:38
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    After looking over the 4.1 changelog, Google apparently completely addressed this issue in the latest updates. Hope they release the source, soon! – rm-vanda Jul 5 '12 at 15:52
  • Thank you! could you give me a link for this? – ce4 Jul 5 '12 at 15:58
  • AndroidPolice has an article with more insight on this. – ce4 Oct 12 '12 at 12:30

This is due to a limitation of GMail more than anything. GMail only supports contact icons with a resolution of 64×64, while ICS supports up to 256×256. When you give a contact an icon, Android uploads that new contact icon to GMail... which then promptly downscales it. ...And then Android thinks you changed it to the low-res icon and uses that instead of the nice and pretty one you picked out.

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    Seems logical however I find it hard to accept that Google messed this up and forgot to fix it or even noticed it to boot. Just thinking. – ce4 Jun 27 '12 at 12:34

Let's get one thing clear, the contact resolution is still too damn low, even after the "fix" for 4.1 where the pictures were slightly enlarged. As of now, there's only one workaround if you want crisp contact pictures.

  • Create a folder with high resolution contact pictures. It's a great idea to backup this folder to Dropbox or similar, you don't want to have to collect these pictures again.

  • Download HD Contacts (free) from Google Play. This app will let you specify one "HD" (high resolution) contact picture for each contact. You can backup the database of contacts/apps from here, and you can redo all contact pictures in a batch when needed (like after installing a new ROM).

Until this is fixed server side and Google allows the sync of shiny high resolution pictures, all we can discuss is workarounds, and this is the one I find to work the best.


Apparently, this is fixed as of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean:
See the API Overview for Jelly Bean and you find this:

Large photos

Android now supports high resolution photos for contacts.
Now, when you push a photo into a contact record, the system processes it into
both a 96x96 thumbnail (as it has previously) and a 256x256 "display photo"
that's stored in a new file-based photo store (the exact dimensions that the
system chooses may vary in the future). You can add a large photo to a contact
by putting a large photo in the usual PHOTO column of a data row, which the
system will then process into the appropriate thumbnail and display photo
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    Apparently, this is NOT fixed as of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean! At least not on Galaxy Nexus, which has HD screen and even 256x256 contact images looks just awfuly ugly on it! – trejder Sep 20 '12 at 19:44
  • Hmm, I have since updated my 'ME' profile picture and it looks crisp. The former compression/upscaling artifacts are gone. Tested on a Nexus 7 and a Nexus S both running 4.1.1. PS: Have you re-uploaded the objectionable profile pics? The quality of contacts with old profile pics stays the same. – ce4 Sep 21 '12 at 9:17
  • After reading this, and similar posts, I finally found solution. It was need to transfer files to the phone/pad and upload them to my contacts from there. This is the only way to get crisp photos. I was all the time trying to do the same through GMail, because I was not aware of its limitations and the fact, that it stores photos directly in database. Now, everything is fine. Thanks. – trejder Sep 22 '12 at 13:20

I'm not sure if your issue is the one I'm addressing: Gmail doesn't save anything bigger than 96x96. So when your contacts are synced with Gmail, they are downsized. If you wipe your phone and re-sync, the 96x96 photos will be downloaded to your phone.

I couldn't find any solution but to write my own app, which uploads the high quality photos to picasaweb under a private album. Give the app a try: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oxplot.contactphotosync


What worked for me was going onto my PC, opening Gmail contacts, and deleting the contact photos one by one. Then voila, the non-compressed pictures are back on my Android.

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    Incredible, it's 2016 and this is still happening, somehow each one of my contacts had a low res version of their photo set as a custom contact picture. – fernio Aug 26 '16 at 13:27

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