If you’ve been hanging around Pocketnow for the past few weeks, you know of our recently rekindled interest in Google’s Nexus 6. We brought our AT&T demo device off the back burner last month, kicking off the summer with an After The Buzz re-review of Motorola’s oversized phablet, followed by a feature piece on Google’s Nexus 6-only Project Fi service. Despite its monstrous dimensions and (arguably) high price tag, the Nexus 6 has a devoted following among Android fans – and with Android 5.1 having smoothed some of Lollipop’s launch wrinkles, most of us here at the P-Machine like the phone formerly known as “Shamu” better than ever.
But often, new software isn’t enough to give an aging device the kind of boost the restless smartphone owner craves. Sometimes, in order to freshen up an older handheld, stand out from the crowd, or just offer an excuse to do a little tinkering, we need to mod that sucker up. And that’s just what do-it-yourselfer (and longtime Pocketnow reader) Booth did with his Nexus 6, swapping out his Nexus-branded back cover for the Moto X Pro’s and deanodizing his phone’s midplate before polishing it to a gleaming sheen. Here’s what our AT&T Nexus 6 looks like with its stock “Midnight Blue” paint job:
… and here’s Booth’s variant:
The change is subtle enough to fly under the radar at first glance, but stark once you realize what’s changed: the pronounced Nexus branding is gone, the dark blue plastic replaced with matte black soft-touch material framed by newly glistening metal that catches the eye without veering into the gaudy chrome-zone. When Booth sent us the glamour shots in the gallery below, it was an effort to pull our eyes away long enough to whip up this post.
And to hear Booth tell it, the process isn’t even all that difficult, given the right materials and instructions. If you’ve got a Nexus 6 that’s feeling a little long in the tooth and you’re dying to customize it, check out Booth’s instructions below. Just don’t blame us if it all goes south; as with all mods we cover at Pocketnow, this is a do-it-at-your-own-risk affair!
Deanodizing the Nexus 6 was actually technically pretty simple. All credit goes to this dude at this XDA thread. I just followed his directions and crossed my fingers.
Some helpful tricks and tips:
- Easiest way to remove the back without effing it up is in the first 30 seconds of this video. I used a paperclip. There’s a perfect hole drilled from the sim tray port to the back cover that a paperclip fits in perfectly. And a hair dryer or heat gun really helps.
- T3 screw driver is needed for all screws except one which is phillips and obvious.
- Best teardown video IMO (minus the way he removes the back). Most important thing is disconnecting the flex ribbon cable. There is a little flap that needs to be lifted to disconnect the two cables. Watch closely in the video at minute 2:30 how he gently unclasps this connection. It’s super delicate. At 4:50 of this video it shows it even better while he’s reconnecting it.
- Greased Lightning does the deanodization work. Takes about 30 minutes. About an inch in a bucket.
- Here’s the link to the matte black back. Choose Black from dropdown. It’s the same texture as the Nexus 5. Note: it is actually a back for the Moto X Pro so does not have the “Nexus” logo. Heat it well with a hair dryer or heat gun before installing.
- Know that if you mess it up, you can buy a complete housing for $35. I bought one just in case and it arrived in about a week so now I have a backup.
After it’s done you can leave it at bare aluminum which looks good or go further and polish it. I polished mine with 0000 steel wool in a back-and-forth direction. Only major caveat is that every week or two you’ll have to hit it with the steel wool again briefly to wipe away any micro scratches. The aluminum is soft and with no anodizing protection it’s vulnerable. Ideally, immediately after finish you’d want to install a Skinomi clear skin for protection if you don’t want to do maintenance.