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HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 by Author

When I used to have a an HTC HD2 one of the things I did was polish my battery cover.  As you can imagine the full aluminum frame of the HTC Sensation 4G was one of the major reasons I got this phone.  Finally I set aside a few hours to polish my Sensation 4G's frame.  The results were stunning.  I figured others may also want to do this.  So I have written a tutorial on how to polish the frame of your HTC Sensation 4G.

Questions and Answers section at bottom of page!

How to Polish the frame of your HTC Sensation 4G

First before you decide to do this, be sure you have the supplies and the time.  It took me about 6 hours to polish the frame from start to finish.  This time could have been reduced by the use of power tools ( dremel tool / grinding wheel / polishing wheel ), but I for some stupid reason, decided to simulate the Amish, and perform this project with pride and care ( my finger tips and back still hurt ).  So if you plan on doing it the way I did. You will need the following
Supplies to Polish your HTC Sensation Frame
  • 600 or 800 Grit Sand Paper ( optional )
  • 1000 Grit Wet / Dry Sand Paper
  • 1500 Grit Web / Dry Sand Paper
  • Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme
  • A few paper towels
If you want this project to go a little faster you could start out with a courser grit sand paper like 800 or 600.  But be sure that you sand out those scratches with 1000 grit, else you will see the scratches after you are done with the polishing step.

Step 1 Taking Apart your HTC Sensation 4G

Before you can polish your frame you need to remove the frame.
HTC Sensation 4G frame removed
Next you need to remove the top and bottom plastic pieces.  Its very important you don't try to polish these.  Your antenna is built into these plastic pieces.  So even though its tempting to polish these ( which would give you a glossy black finish, this would remove the protective rubberized coating that keeps your antenna safe.  So be sure you remove these before starting.  The bottom one has a couple screws that hold it in.  Both pieces have glue that keep them attached.  You will need to use a good amount of pressure to break this bond to free the pieces. 

HTC Sensation 4G frame with plastics removed
Next you need to remove the speaker grill, and light sensor lense.  Just use a small flat blade screw driver to apply a little pressure from the front side and these should pop right out.

HTC Sensation 4G removing ear piece

Next we need to remove the volume rocker.  To remove this use a tiny flat blade screw driver to free the rubber part that is attached at the bottom.

HTC Sensation 4G removing volume rocker arm

Step 2 Sanding the Frame of your HTC Sensation 4G

Start off with your roughest grit sand paper, and start sanding.  I highly recommend you start with a 600 or 800 grit.  Or if you want to make sure it comes out perfect you can do what I did, and start with 1000 grit sand paper.  DO NOT start with anything rougher than 600 grit.  This will cause very deep scratches which are very difficult to remove later.  You are better off taking your time and starting with a higher grit to ensure the best possible finish. 

Take your sand paper and cut it into small strips.  Then start sanding

HTC Sensation 4G sanding frame
Just to warn you the first stage in sanding will take a long time. After maybe 20 minutes it should start to look like this

HTC Sensation 4G sanding frame
You want to keep sanding until the bare metal is showing.
Here is mine a little later
HTC Sensation 4G sanding frame
Getting Closer

HTC Sensation 4G frame satin finish
When you are finally done with the first sanding step you should not see any paint remaining on the parts of the phone that will be exposed.

HTC Sensation 4G frame satin finish
At this point, if you prefer the brushed metal look, then you could go ahead and put everything back together.  Here are some pictures of what the phone looks like with the Brushed Metal Look

HTC Sensation 4G brushed metal frame

HTC Sensation 4G brushed metal frame
The next step would be to use the finer grit sand papers ( 1500 or greater ) to remove the scratches of your 1000 grit sand paper.  Fortunately sanding out the 1000 grit scratches with 1500 grit doesn't take very long.  I only used a single sheet of sand paper on this step.  After you are done sanding its time to move on to the polishing step.

Step 3 Polishing your HTC Sensation 4G

In this step you will be using paper towels and the Metal Polish Creme.  You want to fold the paper town up and then tape a very small dap of the Metal Polish Creme and buff it into your frame.

HTC Sensation 4G polishing the Frame
As you Polish your paper towel will turn black, rotate your paper towel to a clean spot and keep polishing.  Then stop to inspect the shine

HTC Sensation 4G polishing the Frame
Make sure you don't see any deep scratches from a previous sanding step.  If everything looks good keep polishing the entire frame until it has a chrome like mirror finish.
HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame
Now that your Frame is Polished reassemble the plastics, Some of the pieces you will need to use a very small dap of glue to reattach them.
HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

Final Product HTC Sensation 4G with a Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame

HTC Sensation 4G Chrome Polished Frame
Update 7/26/2011
I have also polished the metal port for the camera opening.  Very easy to do and looks great

HTC Sensation 4G Polished Camera Port

Questions and Answers for Polishing your HTC Sensation 4G

After initially writing this article I had many people asking questions.  I will attempt to answer most of these questions below

Where do I buy the Sand Paper and Polishing Creme?

The best place to find the materials would be an auto parts store.  I personally bought mine from AutoZone, but any autoparts store should have the Sand Paper in this fine grit.  Its normally used in auto body work.  And no you won't find this stuff at Lowes or Home Depot.

This is taking forever can I use courser grit sand paper?

Sure, using courser grit sand paper in the beginning will help to speed up the process, but remember if you sand it with 400 grit sand paper, you will need to remove those scratches with 600 grit, then remove those scratches with 800 grit, then 1000 grit and so on.  Once the initial pant is removed its very hard to tell if you are fully removed the scratches from the previous grit.  You won't even realize how many deep scratches are left until you get to the polishing step, where you might see the mirror finish with some deep scratches that won't buff out.  At this point you have to go back from the beginning and try to sand out those scratches.  This can be very tedious, and disappointing.  This is the reason I started with 1000 grit.  It took forever, but then I was 100% that I wouldn't have any deep scratches in my finished product.

Is there a faster and easier way to remove the paint?

Possibly.  Jimmah555 from XDA-Developers suggested that buying some Jasco Brand paint & epoxy stripper from Home Depot might work.  He said its a gel-like paste.  You leave it on for about 10 minutes, the the paint should just wipe off.  Then you would be left with the bare metal surface, which should not even need sanding.  Then if you wanted to speed up the buffing stage you could use a buffing wheel on a dremel along with the Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme.  I haven't tried this myself, so use your own discretion.

Will the Aluminum Oxidize after being polished?

If you use the Blue Magic Metal Polishing Creme then no.  Blue Magic will leave a layer of silicon on the surface that helps protect it.  I personally know this works, as I also polished my Sony Xperia X1i and HTC HD2 using the Blue Magic, and I never had any problems with Oxidation for the 2+ years I had these devices.  However any metal that is exposed and not polished with the Blue Magic will oxidize.

Can I use something other than Blue Magic for Polishing?

Sure, but in my experience the Blue Magic works the best.  I tried a few other polishes at the autoparts store and they didn't give me the results I was looking for.  Plus most other polishes don't leave a protective silicon layer to protect it.  So Yes you can use something else, but don't expect the shine to last for as long.

What kind of Glue should I use to reattach the plastic panels?

I used locktite extreme all temperature glue, not for any particular reason other than it works on both metal and plastic, and I already had it from another unrelated project.  You can buy this glue at Walmart for about $3 for a small tube.

The Plastic Panels are not coming off, any advice?

Yes try using some tiny flat blade screw drivers to help break the bond between the frame and the plastics.  If you just pry the plastics off you are likely to bend them up, or even crack them. Just be patient on this step.

Can I also polish the plastic panels?

No, you should not polish the plastic panels.  I know its tempting, as if you were to polish these panels, the result would be matching high gloss black panels.  But....Your phone's Antenna which is a thin sheet of metal, lays on the outside of these panels. If you look at the surface in the right light you will see the slight bulge from this sheet of metal.  If you sand away the rubberized coating you are likely to damage the antenna layer.  One of the reasons the Sensation gets better reception than say an HD2 is because of this antenna design.  I know they are kind of ugly, black and grey, but unfortunately there is nothing we can do about them.

Can you polish the metal ring around the camera lens?

Yes, check the updated pics above.  Very easy to remove and polish this piece. Took me 10 minutes to do including cleanup.

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Discussion

Nitish | Jul 25, 2011 7:38 AM
u r a genius man!! it looks awesome!!
Danny Wilson | Jul 25, 2011 11:51 AM
Wow, that looks amazing. Good job!
Ravrahn | Jul 25, 2011 3:36 PM
Question: Does it oxidise? All the scratches on my Legend have oxidised, so I'd imagine that it's only a matter of time before the lovely, clean Sensation goes black-brown. I hope not though, it's pretty.
Paul | Jul 25, 2011 3:41 PM
@Ravrahn,
The Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme leaves a layer of silicon on the metal, and this protects it and prevents it from oxidizing.  If yours is looking bad, I suggest you visit an AutoZone and buy a container of the Metal Polish Creme, then repolish your phone, It will do wonders for your Legend.
Paul | Jul 25, 2011 3:43 PM
Also as a side note I did the same thing with my HTC HD2 over a year ago, and it never oxidized, just got a little dirty over time.  Just took a quick 2 minute polishing to bring it back to new.
Ravrahn | Jul 25, 2011 3:48 PM
@Paul: Oh, excellent, thanks. Mine's not too badly scratched, but it's getting a bit black around the edge. I'll probably do this to it, actually, if I can get the time. Not sure how safe it is, though - the metal on the Legend is not detachable from the body.
Krystal | Jul 25, 2011 7:03 PM
I am just wondering what kind of glue to use for the Htc sensation sanding project...???
DIESEL | Jul 25, 2011 8:57 PM
OMG!!! That looks so amazing!!! I have a sensation but I don't have the balls to take it apart like that!!!! Wish i could get it done though!!! But you did a very nice job!! Two thumbs up!!!!!
patrick | Jul 25, 2011 9:02 PM
wow - great job!  I was ready to do this tonight, went to Home Depot and Lowes and neither carry this high grade of sandpaper?  Where would I find these?  Any tips?

thanks!
Brent | Jul 25, 2011 9:18 PM
Try a hobby shop that has models. I've never had problem finding it there, as do use some of the higher grit sandpaper when building models. Hobby Town in my area has always had it.
Paul | Jul 25, 2011 9:46 PM
@ patrick
goto any autoparts store.  Sand paper like this is normally used in autobody work.  They should have plenty of it there.  I got mine at AutoZone ( like $2 for each pack )
Greg | Jul 26, 2011 2:41 AM
Great! I did the same with my Desire : http://android-france.fr/forum/htc-desire/legendary-desire-mod-exterieur-t641-45.html#p6032
But your Sensation look like a Superstar! Wonderful! 
susuFOX | Jul 26, 2011 3:33 AM
Hi, great job!
When I get my Sensation I hope I will have the courage to do the same.
Bob | Jul 26, 2011 6:35 AM
looks fantastic great work!!

you can buy spare back housing pieces for the sensation from ebay and then polish it up and keep the orriginal casing if your not quite so good with your hands as you pre-anticipated.

eBay: http://shop.ebay.co.uk/i.html?_nkw=htc+sensation+back+housing&_sacat=0&_odkw=htc+sensation+back&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m270.l1313
Brian | Jul 26, 2011 1:45 PM

THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!!! The moment I saw this, I went to the Auto store, grab the polish and SP grit, and headed home for the project. Mine turned out just as you said and looks super shinny. The only difference is that I used a Dremel on mine. For those that do attempt this and want to use power tools, I would skip using the 600 grit paper, and just use the 1000 grit then 1500. FYI? Make sure when using any power tool for this project to use the LOWEST SETTING possible. It?s very easy to build friction and damage the metal skin.


Anywho... Awesome post, Paul! Thank you

-Brian


Dustin | Jul 26, 2011 7:39 PM
I am doing this process right now and I am using the 1000 grade sandpaper and I have reached a point where it is a grey color with but of crome showing and all it seems to be doing note is polishing it not taking the paint off. Any suggestions? It looks awesome btw totally stoked for it to be finished
Paul | Jul 26, 2011 8:07 PM
@Dustin
It takes quite a while before all the paint is removed and the bare metal is exposed.  If you look at the pictures of mine, you should notice how the progress starts at the edges and HTC logo and works its way in.  Something that helped was using a small block of wood, and then wrapping the block with the sand paper.  Then driving the edge of the block against the frame. This created more pressure and helped remove the paint faster.  The more pressure you can apply the faster it will remove the paint.
Big nu | Jul 26, 2011 8:41 PM
I wondered if using a wire wheel on a dremel/air tool would get the first layer off quicker and leave little to no deep scratches.. and then maybe hit with a little 1000/1500 to kinda give it some consistency.. what do think?
Paul | Jul 26, 2011 8:51 PM
Wire wheel brushes are about 80 grit.  I would not recommend using something like that to start.  The finest wheel brushes I have seen are still only 250 grit and this is still too low.  You could use it but then you are going to have to go through many steps with middle grade sand papers to remove those scratches, before you get to 1000 Grit. 
bbiao | Jul 26, 2011 11:33 PM
amazing work
Brian | Jul 27, 2011 10:49 AM

Paul,
I noticed you also polished the rim to the camera lens. Can you tell whether or not the extra glare from the chrome rim creates a problem with taking pictures in outside from the sun? I'm leaving mine as is because this might cause some glare problems...thoughts?

Paul | Jul 27, 2011 10:53 AM
@ Brian
Just polished the front of it, and took some test pics.  no Glare issues at all.  If you were to polish the inside of the ring, then this could possibly cause problems from the light reflecting to the sensor, but by just polishing the front there is no problem.
john | Jul 27, 2011 7:42 PM
Would it be possible to color it red ,blue ect. After the sanding and polishing has been done? If so any ideas on what to use.
james | Jul 28, 2011 11:00 AM
Awesome job man, freakin nice looking phone. By the way, any chance of doing it for HTC thunderbolt, would love to do it but don't know how to disassemble this thing. Again, great job here.
LP | Jul 29, 2011 6:21 PM
Just did it, looks incredible!! Thanks for the how-to!!
Dustin | Jul 29, 2011 8:58 PM
Hey! I am finished with the sandpaper step and I want to paint the htc letters a deep red because they are no longer black lol. Would you suggest painting before polishing or after and would automotive touch up paint be the best?
Paul | Jul 30, 2011 5:14 PM
@Dustin
I would suggest filling in the HTC log with paint before the polishing step.  You might have to let it sit there for quite a while to cure.  Then once its cured do your polishing step.  The polishing step is likely to remove some of the paint and give it a nice glossy appearance.
GmanDavid | Aug 1, 2011 10:52 AM
Did you try to sand the power button, volume rocker or speaker grille? They are chrome originally, but they feel like plastic. I assume that if I sanded and polished them, they would be a shiny black. I like the contrast between a chrome body and black buttons, like my fourth gen iPod touch.
Paul | Aug 1, 2011 1:38 PM
@GmanDavid
No I did not try to sand the buttons. I actually like the Chrome on Chrome look
But I think you are right, if you were to sand off the chrome coating then the black would be exposed.  However these buttons are very fragile, so sand them with caution.
nate | Aug 4, 2011 2:14 AM
this is awesome.....wish someone would sand down their desire hd/inspire 4g, so i can see what it looks like and maybe i would do it....great work
Reuben | Aug 4, 2011 7:59 PM
Paul,

2 questions for you:

1. How fragile is the speaker grill, volume rocker, and other small parts you need to remove from the metal body - is it easy to break them/distort the delicate mesh grills through prising them off? How easy are they to remove, and likewise when re-installing them, is it easy to fit/glue them back to make them look exactly the same as when you started, or are they always going to look like they've been taken apart

2. How long-lasting is this silicone coating that particular polish contains? How likely is the aluminium to go dull and oxidise over time do you think? And, lastly, would ordinary paint stripper be ok for taking the paint off before the polishing step? I'd rather save all the time and take off every last remnant of paint, but also, can paint stripper destroy or corrode the surface/colour of aluminium?
SmOke_iT | Aug 7, 2011 3:16 PM
You can make a youtube video `?
 That all describes,...
Dustin | Aug 8, 2011 1:03 PM
Hey Paul... I've been meaning to get around and send you a picture of my phone, after I finished it. It really is fabulous, the battery life is so atrocious with this phone though, and thats even using JuiceDefender Ultimate. I've had countless top of the line phones so I know how bad the battery life on these are. I'm currently selling it, after all my hard work, on eBay. 

Heres the pic of the phone...Enjoy
Thanks again Paul... I certainly couldnt have done this without your help.
Turbo_Android | Aug 9, 2011 6:54 PM
HOLY SH*T! This is awesome!!! HTC needs to consider this external design direction! 

This HTC Sensation tuning looks more premium than standard its look. Raw polished aluminum touches my heart! Thank you. HTC needs to make more unexpected design experiments. 

AWESOME.
Really awesome. +That camera metal ring...mmm!!!! I love it!
Werner | Aug 10, 2011 5:21 PM
Nice 'manual', thanks a lot.
Unfortunately I don't have enough money to ruin my HTC Sensation.
This seems to be only for professionals.
Panca | Aug 11, 2011 7:02 PM
WOW !!! You crazy man !

The best phone i ever seen. Thanks for sharing.
Bob | Aug 13, 2011 6:05 PM
Im from the uk and i have been to every autostore wthin a 20 mile radius of where i live for the polish, does anyone have any idea of where i can pick up some bluemagic polish or anything that will work as good or as close as possible. please write back

also to the dude who painted the htc logo red, what type of paint did you use, and do you think that nail pollish would work if this was just a bad idea.

and once again congrats on the MINT work you did to your sensation the 'pros' over at htc should be ashamed of not designing the sensation like this
Brandon | Aug 15, 2011 3:46 AM
Hey Paul, Great Job! I really want to do mine, but wanted to see if you could answer the question about possibly changing the color of the metal maybe to a brushed metal but blue instead of silver... any ideas?
Denis Hansen | Aug 16, 2011 10:03 AM
Hi.
Now its been a while since you did this exelent work on your HTC.
I would like to know if the result is still as crome as when you did it.?
Do you have to apply the cream once a month or...?

Hope you will reply to this as that may be the one thing most of us want to know.

Thanks

Paul | Aug 16, 2011 10:45 AM
@ Denis
Yes my phone still looks as good as it did the day I polished it.  No Oxidation.  Still Shines like new
Dustin | Aug 16, 2011 11:42 PM
@Bob  I used simple Automotive Touch Up paint... pick a color you want your "HTC" letters to be and use a very fine paint brush tip, like a toothpick thin.

@Paul... Thank You again. It looked great and I sold it for nearly $1300 to someone in Europe. Apparently they wanted a one of a kind phone. 

Im awaiting the Galaxy S II
Hecg55 | Aug 19, 2011 2:00 AM
Any idea if there is some sort of "stain" or anything I could use to make it look gold? Thanks looks great and denis your is awesome too...
Alan | Aug 19, 2011 6:32 PM
I started sanding the cover down and the HTC logo is starting to reveal chrome too, am I doing something wrong?
Paul | Aug 19, 2011 7:16 PM
@Alan
Mine did the same thing.
It wasn't til the polishing step that my logo filled back in with black ( dirt ). I actually wish my logo had stayed polished, but it didn't work out that way.
Alan | Aug 20, 2011 12:43 AM
To everyone that is going to attempt this, a fair warning, this is going to require alot of patience and elbow grease. I have spent the last 4 hours and I am only half done! I do not know how the OP managed to do this in 6 hours with 1000 grit, I'm using 800 grit and it is taking me forever! But, I'm sure it will be worth it :)
Paul | Aug 20, 2011 1:09 AM
@Alan
Just wait til you show your friends.  They will be like "Wow your phone is awesome,  WTF happened to your fingers!"

Yeah this is not a project for the weak or lazy. 

Alan | Aug 21, 2011 11:09 PM
I finally got it done! It's not as perfect as I wanted it to be, but it still looks pretty darn good. For some reason, the silver letters for "HTC" fell out, so now it's just looks kind of weird. Any tips on how to cover it up? I tried using touch up paint like Dustin, but for some reason, it's not going on as good as his...
simon | Aug 30, 2011 5:18 AM
question. if you want the brushed aluminium loo, how do you stop it from oxidising ? will the metal polish make it glossy ?
Paul | Aug 30, 2011 1:31 PM
@Simon
The metal polish creme will make it glossy, but as long as you sand it with a lower grit sand paper ( 600 or 800 ) and you don't move onto the final high grit paper. The polishing creme should not remove the brushed texture.
Davinder | Sep 2, 2011 12:33 AM
hey paul I'm in a emergency situation here i used the technique you did but I'm stuck right here.My phone looks like your 10th picture Its all ugly and scratches and i don't know what to do after. should i use 1000 grit and then 1500 of just polish
Paul | Sep 2, 2011 6:36 AM
@Davinder
If you started off with a grit lower than 1000, then yes you will want to sand it down with 1000 grit.  If you started with a very course grit ( 600 ) or less.  Then you might need to sand with 800 grit before the 1000 grit.  Don't worry about it looking bad at this point, until you sand it down with 1000 grit then give it a quick once over with 1500 grit you will be ready to polish it.

Even after you sand it with the 1500 grit you will be thinking that its not going to come out very good, but then when you start using the metal polish creme everything will turn out great.  The stuff is amazing!
xisleprez | Sep 13, 2011 1:30 AM
I saw your post and pics through a friend from xda developers members and I immediately went to town on my HTC HD2 battery cover, so in reference to the type of results by high polishing with high# grit sand paper(s and foam pads on a grinder.Holding it secure without denting the thin metal is important and most importantly watching the angle to surface edge contact. You'll wind up fling'n the piece across the room if you catch an edge wrong.I'm sending my results to you, it was yours that ignited my pursuit of that sick mirror.finish on metal! I spent 2hours on it and it started the same as yours.The higher #grit paper you use there becomes no need for creams to bringout the mirror-look. It doesn't fade away or corrode, but using polishing products / materials for aluminum will deliver the sickest / deepest mirror finish! So Thanks for your posting the project, yes it is SENSATIONAL !!
Dennis | Sep 16, 2011 1:56 PM
Just bought , blue magic polish 6.79, and to remove paint I bought klean strip aircraft paint remover 8.99, and a polishing rag for 4.99 with tax in NY it comes to 22.43. I feel confident a few applications will save me the sanding. My plan to remove the surrounding plastics is to use a hair dryer to heat up the bonding agent to allow me to get it off easier. Can you please go into further detail of how to pry them off? How long did that process take? Where should I start prying? How tiny of a flat head? What do you think about my materials?
Mark | Sep 22, 2011 9:29 AM
Im going to do this on my sensation xe. With the red htc logo like Dustin. Hopefully the XE comes out soon.
jonathan | Sep 23, 2011 10:35 AM
hey can u make me one ill pay u??
truthkillszz | Sep 23, 2011 2:34 PM
I was planning on after sanding it down. painting the frame one color and htc logo another. Now if I were to do that, what kind of paint should I use and should I put like a clear gloss coat over it for protection?
stefan | Oct 14, 2011 4:09 AM
I´m sanding it out now first with 800 grid, then 1000 grid then 1500 grid... It´s really hard work :D I have ordered the Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream from USA yesterday, it costs 7$ and !!! 12$ for shipping to Germany. :D I hope it will cought up for me... :D Thanks for this guide, I will post my pics in a few days.
Bloke | Oct 17, 2011 11:18 AM
HI there, I did this over the last few days, took me a 4-5 @ 1000 to just remove the initial paint.... So I went and did the rest with my electric sander in about 1-2 hours. Changed to 1500 toget that miror finish. Thanks for this , Looks great now. Bloke
tonno16 | Oct 25, 2011 2:01 AM
Hi. I saw this amazing mod on xda forum. I take my saensation (not 4g) and started hard work.
with the only and and paper I think that I will finish not in 6 hours, but I hope 10-11 hours.
unfortunately I could not find the 1500 sendpaper. I only find up to 1000. So I strated with 1000.

why you did the work under the water??? the antenna does not ruin??? I make all without water.
I'm waiting your help :)

Paul | Oct 25, 2011 9:38 AM
@tonno16,
When you use high grit sand paper its common to wet sand, as this helps to remove the waste material.  Its common in metal sanding and autobody work.  The 1500 grit is not 100% needed.  1000 grit may be fine enough.  As long as you completely remove the painted layer.  Then use the polishing creme.  I only spent like 5 minutes sanding with 1500 grit,  compared to the hours I spent with the 1000 grit, so I am not sure if it made that big of a difference. 

The antennas are built into the plastic pieces that you remove from the frame.  Make sure you remove those before sanding, else yes you will ruin those
Tuning Directory | Oct 25, 2011 10:30 AM
Wow!!! This is a lot of work but it is worth it. Well done!
tonno16 | Oct 26, 2011 12:56 AM
I started using 800, and when I'll finish I'll use 1000. in total the work took me 3 hours but I did not arrive at half of work
Barney | Nov 2, 2011 4:24 AM
Cheers for the great post, But before I take the plunge does the aluminium scratch easy? and once scratched does it then oxidise as it has lost its silicon layer? Thanks
Paul | Nov 2, 2011 12:18 PM
@Barney
I have done this with my last 3 phones, and never had a problem with scratches.  Of course you will get small scuffs from use, but these are easily polished back out with the metal polish cream.  Never had any problems with oxidation either. 
Dustin | Nov 8, 2011 11:11 AM
Hey Paul! I have to say what I did to my Sensation, Thanks to you, was just amazing. I now have Free Sprint service, through my employer and opted for a free Evo 3D phone, Do you know or can you let me know if there is any possibility of "Chroming" out my Evo 3D? Thanks in advance
Paul | Nov 8, 2011 7:09 PM
@Dustin
I haven't spent much time with the Evo 3D to know if it has any metal parts.  Basically anything that is metal, could theoretically be polished. 
Dustin | Nov 8, 2011 10:03 PM
Hmm...Paul, How could you tell the back of the Sensation was metal underneath before you sanded it and polished the metal? I enjoyed having a very rare, one of a kind phone and I don't know how I can tell if the back of the Evo 3D is metal underneath or not. Is there somewhere I can look or any way I can find out?? Thanks in advance
Paul | Nov 8, 2011 10:25 PM
@Dustin
Yeah Easy. Plastic won't feel cold to the touch, Metal will.
Ozonocean | Nov 15, 2011 8:27 AM
This external appearance, with the silver body and black plastic pieces, was actually how we all first saw the Sensation when HTC designed it; as the "Pyramid" earlier this year. That's what made me fall in live with it. I was hugely disappointed when they painted it dark brown. It's good to see the original look again!
I will try something similar with mine.
Ivo | Nov 30, 2011 5:49 AM
Hi all and thank you for the great DIY. I am having a hard time finding this Blue Magic Polish Creme here in Europe. Any suggestions for best alternatives?
Paul | Nov 30, 2011 11:53 AM
Order it from Amazon.com, I am pretty sure they ship globally.
Peter | Dec 3, 2011 2:04 PM
Hi Paul, is the whole frame made out of aluminium or are there any parts left made out of plastic. I'd like to use paint remover, but normally it destroys the plastic.
Paul | Dec 3, 2011 2:25 PM
@Peter,
You have to remove the plastic parts, from the case first.  Then you can polish the cover. NOT NOT use paint remover on the plastic parts, as they are likely to dissolve.
Hope this helps.
Peter | Dec 3, 2011 2:30 PM
Thx Paul, but i meant after you remove the plastic parts like you did in picture seven, are there still plastic parts or is the disassembled body all aluminum. Sorry for being not so precise ! :D
Paul | Dec 3, 2011 2:36 PM
@Peter,
The frame is all Aluminum, after your remove the plastic parts like I did above.  So yes you can just dunk the entire thing in Paint Remover, and let it soak for a while.  Keep in mind the outside is not painted its anodized, so the paint remover might not get you to the final result.  You still might have to do some sanding.  Good luck!
Brian Flores | Dec 21, 2011 3:26 PM
Wow i love it. i just bought the Sensation XE and did the same and it look beautiful Black, red, Chrome. nice combo and makes the phone look like a champ. i love seeing the envy on my friend's faces when they see it. they have a plain old Sensation and mine looks unique. Tried this on the T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G and it looks amazing too. really cool idea! thanks!
willyam | Jan 2, 2012 12:29 AM
To everyone saying that HTC should make the sensation with this mod: If HTC did make the sensation with this mod, Apple would sue or complain about HTC copying their bare metal design on the iPod touch. the moment I saw the photo of the mod, I thought it was an iPod touch. I know there are the black parts on the sensation's back cover, but it still resembles an iPod touch. I an not against this mod. It would awesome if HTC could include this mod without Apple in the way , but Apple is in the way. and I am very sure HTC considered the bare metal design. It's obviously cheaper since there is no paint to add and it looks way cooler and awesomer. It reminds me of something from star trek... ;)
alexium | Jan 2, 2012 12:45 AM
How do you keep the brushed look without it oxidizing? idea: engrave a photo or a message on the back. It's a easy way to cover deep scratches. If you have a FEW deep scratches, you could get imaginative and turn those ugly lines into a picture. When someone asks, "are those scratches?" You can say,"nope, I meant to do that."
Francis | Jan 8, 2012 8:31 PM
@Paul, Just wanted to confirm which screwdriver you used to take apart the screws off the bottom plastic bit. I had a jewellery screw driver set and none of them seemed small enough. Do you think this would do the job?- http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/290329756016?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_1671wt_1270 Thanks in advance.
Paul | Jan 8, 2012 8:39 PM
@Francis
I have a Craftsman ( Sears ) 12 piece Micro-Tech Precision Screwdriver set.  The smaller Philips ones worked well.  I think you can also buy the individual screw drivers from sears.  However its cheaper to buy the set.  I can't tell what size the one in that auction is.
Brovning | Jan 16, 2012 1:36 PM
Hello Paul,
Thanks for this HowTo!
Would it influence the cell phone reception, if I paint the two bottom plastic pieces?
What do you think?
Paul | Jan 16, 2012 1:57 PM
@ Broving
Thats a good question.  I would think it would depend on the paint used.  One of the main reasons for the Sensation's design with the antennas built into the plastic pieces is because Metal will block / deflect signals.  I actually learned this the hardway with my home's wireless network.  We installed a wall mirror ( 9ft wide by 5 ft tall)  in our workout room.  And this room is between my office and the room our wireless router was installed.  The result was WIFI signals were almost entirely blocked, as the line of sight had to go through this mirror. 

You have to realize that the antennas are actually glued to the outside of those plastic pieces. Then a very thin layer of rubberized coating is applied over them ( that is what you actually feel when you touch the plastic pieces.)  Considering this design, Any coating you were to apply to the outside of your plastic pieces could have a negative impact on signal.  Also trying to get paint to adhere to the rubberized coating might be difficult, and you can't sand it off because this would likely damage the thin copper layer ( your antenna ).  However you free to try.  Let us know how it works out for you if you do.
greyson | Jan 18, 2012 3:39 PM
When do you use wet and when dry sand paper??
Paul | Jan 18, 2012 4:08 PM
@greyson
Typically when sanding metal or paint, you always wet sand.  The water acts as a lubricant between the surface and sand paper, plus it helps to remove sanded material from the surface.  I sanded mine under my kitchen faucet while the water was at a good constant drip.
greyson | Jan 18, 2012 4:41 PM
@paul Thanks I'm inspired I just read this last night. Picked up supplies 2 day, now I'm going for it. Glad I stumbled upon this.
ulan | Jan 18, 2012 7:50 PM
Did the same with my sensation and legend..looks hot!thank u for your gr8 idea!!!!!
robert | Feb 7, 2012 11:53 AM
fyi the paint stripper does absolutely nothing.
Adam | Feb 8, 2012 2:52 AM
I just spent the last 6 hours polishing the back cover on my Sensation but now I want to sell the phone and take advantage of my upgrade.
Frank | Feb 8, 2012 10:05 AM
Hi because of your guide i tried another idea.
i didnt like the black backcover of my Sensation XE because it had red keys.
so i had eloxed it red:
The htc logo is filled with a "Brushless Engravocolor Stick" (http://www.gravograph.us/engraving-products/Engravers_Supplies.php)
PS: Sorry about my bad English im from Germany ^^
Paul | Feb 8, 2012 10:15 AM
@Adam,
Please don't use my blog to solicit anything. If you want to sell your back cover, you might want to post it on ebay, then tell everyone on XDA-developers about it.  Other people have offered to pay me, but considering the time it takes to do a good job, it wasn't worth it for me. 
Radu | Feb 21, 2012 9:20 PM
Greetings,

how much sandpaper did you use. I have no clue how much I should buy...
Thanks
Ken T. | Feb 22, 2012 12:00 AM
Thanks for the awesome write up Paul!  I did this for myself over the weekend, and it turned out great!  My phone looks so sexyyyy now, haha! 





Radu, to answer your question, you will need a few sheets of 1000 grit sandpaper, and one sheet of 1500 or 2000 grit sandpaper to sand out all the scratches left behind from the 1000 grit sandpaper.  However, I managed to complete the whole project using one piece of 1000 grit, one piece of 1500 grit, and 2 pieces of 2000 grit.  I ran out of the 1000 and 1500 grit about half way thru, so I was stuck doing the rest using 2000.  It took me a while, but I managed to finish it with what came in the package of sandpaper that I bought. 
Hiromy | Mar 7, 2012 5:26 AM
Pourriez vous créer plusieurs coque de ce style (chromée, rouge, bref différentes couleurs etc...) et les vendre ?
Je ne suis malheureusement pas très débrouillarde, et préférerai ne pas risquer et payer une coque déjà faite par quelqu'un.
Elles sont juste magnifiques
Bullet | Mar 7, 2012 2:41 PM
Have anyone try gold plate it?
Jared | Apr 18, 2012 7:45 PM
Has anyone tried to paint or recolor the black plastic parts?
Darryl | Apr 24, 2012 2:01 PM
Hi,

I'm gonne try this myself :p looks very nice! and thanks for the tutorial. I think im also going to do this the amish way ^^ and like what u did with the camera port.

but I'm wondering if anyone tried drilling  into the holes of the LED's with a conic shaped head. ( that thing u use to pre-drill wood before inserting a screw so the wood doesn't crack ). So it makes a 'chamfer' shaped edge just like the front camera has.


Bidesh | Apr 28, 2012 10:48 AM
Hi Paul,

i have a htc sensation xe i want to make its metal part wine red chrome.
please give me some advice how can i make a color chrome?
chris mann | Apr 29, 2012 10:05 PM
i just did this and it took me 4 hrs total i used the exact specifications you used and did everything the same except for with the sandpaper i used a rubber sanding block which cut the time down drastically and made it easier on my hands and fingers lol,but thank you so much for posting this inventive idea i love my phone even more now and so many are jealous and evious of my phone lol thanks again!
Justin | May 9, 2012 9:54 PM
So I tried doing this, and failed miserably haha. When taking the plastic off the frame of the battery cover, I was a bit hasty and made several bad dents and holes in the plastic. Then the sanding took forever, so I gave up. Luckily I ordered a spare that'll be here tomorrow, as I anticipated screwing up. :P

I was curious, is it possible to not remove the plastic, but not sand it? Could you cover it with something protective like electrical tape, as well as the antennas inside of course? And then just sand the metal down to the chrome? Removing the plastic is quite time-consuming and very tricky, so I was curious if one could ideally cut that process out.
tony | May 19, 2012 2:30 PM
hey guys this is freakin awesome i would love to do this to my sensation..unfortunately  i don't have time and skill but i would deff pay someone to do this...
Sid | Jun 12, 2012 12:57 PM
On the contrary, how can i repaint it black with the same finish as htc gave?
Stephen | Jul 22, 2012 8:30 PM
i just did it and came out great doesent take to much skill to do it . i used 800 to start then went to a dremmel then i did 1500 sand paper and polished and done. looks great thx for the tutorial
Chris | Aug 15, 2012 7:06 PM
I am with Justin above, I replaced the digitalizer myself on this phone, and that was easier than this. Getting the plastic pieces off the cover was not worth it. Maybe cause the covers are so much older by now than when this post was created, because the glue was so hardly stuck to it, I made holes and dents trying to pry it apart, that is with using the plastic phone tools also. Not worth it.
Chris | Aug 15, 2012 7:10 PM
The glue is more harder now since the posting has been created**
Chirag | Oct 6, 2012 2:37 AM
Is it necessary to use 1500 grit sand paper? its not available in my country... theres no deep scratches at all... 
Jason | Nov 24, 2012 5:48 PM
Indeed, the glue holding the plastic covers is much harder than the original post of this procedure. I screwed up the wifi cover pretty badly by punching a hole through it and deforming the glued-down portion.

Also, I was not in the mood to make a Home Depot run so I decided to try some 'Driveway, Concrete & Masonry Cleaner (concentrated)' that I had in the garage. This is available at Home Depot as well. It's literally eats the coating off of the aluminum! It was completely free of any visible coating in under 10 minutes and I think it would have continued to digest the aluminum body itself if I had left it in there longer. It was fascinating to watch!! Anyway, I dressed it up with polish and it looks quite nice.

As for the plastic covers...I glued the wifi cover back together, but it still doesn't look very good after being butchered during removal. So I've ordered another cover and will probably just leave it as-is once I receive it...
Jac | Dec 3, 2012 8:23 AM
I did this a few months back and it looked slick like the op's pictures. But with keys and money in my pocket it's scratched up quite a bit now. How's everyone else finding the length of time that the quality look lasts? Any tips on making it last longer? Obviously i could keep it separate from my keys and money, but I don't seem to be very good at remembering that....
might see what it looks like with some decent lacquer to protect it.

When I chromed it up I also sanded down the volume button so that it's black. It looked awesome with the chrome finish and black button, shame the power button is not black under the paint.  
Mr Right says: | May 6, 2013 10:28 PM
Hello all,

I gave this project a go an it came out outstanding. I tried using the paint/finish stripper but to no avail. I do find that using a sanding pad (http://m.grainger.com/mobile/details/?R=4ZR18), like this one, made the job much easier and faster. I use some Ajax cleaner and I was done in under two hours, stripping all the coating off the phone. I think it would have taken me even a shorter time, if I wasn't babysitting my son, who kept wanting to play. Nonetheless, the look I got from using the pad was much more appealing to me, it gave it an industrial look like brushed aluminum. I have to admit that using running water is perfect to get this job done quicker. Good luck to all of you that try this out, you won't regret it.

Mr Right says: You can do it!
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