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I.e., by comparing the dimensions of the screenshot and size / position of UI elements, without the aid of metadata?

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You're unlikely to be able to identify the exact model, because of the sheer number of different Android phones out there, many of which will have the same resolution and UI.

But you can probably narrow it down a fair bit, based on:

  • The resolution of the screenshot.
  • The Android version (if there are any elements that change between versions visible).
  • The vendor (as many vendors do their own customisation to the UI).
  • The connectivity icons shown (for instance, if it says it's connected to 5G that rules out various models).

If you know which country the screenshot is from, you can try and cross-reference that with a list of available/common phones - but it's certainly not bulletproof. And you also need to bear in mind that Android lets users customise quite a lot of the UI, so you can't necessarily trust that what you're looking at is the default for that model.

So you may be able to say "This screenshot was probably not taken on a Samsung $foo, because the resolution is wrong" - but you're unlikely to be able to say "This screenshot was taken on this specific model of phone".

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    In short, you can eliminate certain models, but are unlikely to positively identify a certain model.
    – schroeder
    Mar 6 at 10:18
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    Additionally it may be worth noting that the resolution itself may not necessarily always be the most useful piece of information; consider instead the scale, given that screenshots can be modified (intentionally, during save, or during transmission) to where the original resolution itself was lost.
    – signus
    Mar 7 at 3:34
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    In web fingerprinting, for example, the minuscule differences in font rendering are used as one of the identification metrics, I guess that is applicable to mobile phone fingerprinting as well - and most screenshots contain text.
    – sunny moon
    Mar 7 at 10:36
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    @sunnymoon That usually works because on desktops there's lots of variations when it comes to fonts and OSes/browsers, no? And it also relies on the server being able to try and force certain fonts. I would expect the vast majority of say Samsung S22's to have the exact same number of fonts installed and the same font being picked in the UI. But then these things are often surprisingly subtle and I'm by no means an expert.
    – Voo
    Mar 7 at 10:50
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    Speaking of the UI, you need to also consider custom ROMs. And the fact that the screenshot could capture just an image displayed fullscreen, without the actual phone's UI.
    – Trang Oul
    Mar 7 at 14:40

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