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Sony Xperia X1i hand polished chrome battery cover

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 by Paul White

Sony Xperia X1i ChromeOne of the great things about the Sony Xperia X1 is the unlike most other phones that are wrapped in plastic. This phone has a Metal Battery Cover and I believe the front bezel is also metal ( could be mistaken on the bezel ). 

So I decided I wanted to take the battery cover of my Sony Xperia X1 from a dull black finish, to a chrome like finish.  Rather than having it professionally chromed ( which sounded expensive ), I decided to just use some old fashioned elbow grease. 

Here is what I used to get this done
All of these can be purchased at your local auto parts store.
1. 240 Grit Sand Paper
2. 1000 Grit Sand Paper
3. Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme
4. Couple of old Cotton T-Shirts

Now before you go off and buy these and try to do this yourself, keep in mind that I did this the hard and what many would say the wrong way.  This is the way I did it, which works but will take longer and the end product will not be 100% perfect.
Step 1. Remove Battery Cover
Step 2. Sand off black paint with 240 Grit sand paper.
Step 3. Sand 240 scratches with 1000 Grit sand paper
Step 4. Buff with Metal Polish

The right way to get this done would be to get many different Grits of the Sand Paper.
To do this the right way it would be best to get the following
1. 300 Grit Sand Paper
2. 600 Grit Sand Paper
3. 1000 Grit Sand Paper
4. 1600 Grit Sand Paper
5. Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme

The only reason I didn't do it the right way is because I didn't want to buy all the sand paper, as I already had the 240 and 1000 grit at home.  If you use multiple grits you will spend less time sanding, as trying to sand out 240 grit Scratches with 1000 Grit Sand Paper will take a very long time.  Be prepared to take your time doing this.  Don't move on to a finer grit sand paper until you have completely finished with your current grit.  Also you could possibly use an electric sander for this, but what would the fun in that be?

Sony Xperia X1i before

Here you can see what the battery cover looked like before I started on it.

Metal Polish Creme

This is just a picture of the battery cover next to the Metal Polish Creme I used. I was testing the cover to see how it would react to the polish.

Sony Xperia X1i after sanding

After Sanding with 240 Grit Sand Paper

Sony Xperia X1i after sanding

After Sanding with 1000 Grit Sand Paper

Sony Xperia X1i after polishing

After using Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme
When using the polish you don't need a lot, Just a tiny amount will go a long way.  As you buff it on the metal, you will notice your T-Shirt will turn black.  This is the polish removing a thin layer of the metal from the surface.  Once your T-Shirt goes black, use a clean part to continue polishing.  The polish also works great to remove scratches form your cell phone's display, and for polishing plastic to a gloss finish.

Sony Xperia X1i Chrome

Here you can see the side profile of the battery cover.  Notice the reflection of the penny.

Sony Xperia X1i Chrome

Final Product.

As far as I know I am only the only person with a Chrome Sony Xperia X1.  The only bad part is the finish gets dirty quick.  Since I didn't use all the different grits of sand paper the finish is not 100% perfect, but its good enough.  I could use it to shave if I needed.  But  more practical use would be as a mirror for self portraits with the phone's camera.

UPDATE 5/18/2010
I am preparing to sell my Xperia X1i on Ebay.  As part of my preparation I am going to polish the battery cover again to get out any small scratches from normal use.  I think I might have found an easier and cheaper way to polish the cover.  I may post a new blog using this technique. 

The Xperia is a great phone, but it won't be able to compare to the HTC HD2 that is on its way.  The HTC HD2 also has a metal battery cover ( larger one too ) and yes I will be polishing this one as well.  Keep posted for a tutorial on polishing your HTC HD2 battery cover coming soon.

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Siraj | Jul 26, 2009 4:35 PM
Great Work bro. I have completed half of the job, searching for polish. can you suggest me any alternative polish to use for the same effect. Thanks once again.
Paul | Jul 26, 2009 4:58 PM
Hey Siraj, The only polish I have used is the Metal Polish, by Blue Magic. Its available at most autoparts stores, but if you don't have any of those around you, you can buy some off the web. Just google for Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream. I just did that and found it for sale on Amazon for $5.99. I paid $9 to buy it at Autozone. Good luck with your phone. I am now considering polishing the front bezel, as I think its also made of metal.
kaizaad k | Jul 29, 2009 1:46 AM
had done it ages ago but with 3 m kitchen scrub am posting pics i had left it matt finish so that there where no finger smudges also it keeps the xperia paint logo intact cheers http://twitpic.com/bzthg http://twitpic.com/bztez http://twitpic.com/bztbt
Paul | Jul 29, 2009 2:03 AM
Kaizaad, Nice pics, I had done the same thing before deciding to take it to the next step. The finish had more of that gun metal / stainless steel look when you just scrub off the top layer of paint. Unfortunately if you want to get more of a brushed nickle look, you have to use a 300 ( or lower ) grit sand paper, to remove the factory texturing, and to fully remove all the black paint from the surface. Then you step up to higher grits of sand paper to get the surface to more of a brushed nickle look, which does a great job of hiding finger prints. Thanks for he post. I am glad so many are taking an interest in this project. I watched a video tonight on how to disassemble the Xperia X1 which would allow me to remove the front face plate, and attempt to polish that part as well. Its made of the same material as the battery cover.
kaizaad k | Jul 29, 2009 2:17 AM
am a marine engineer so polishes and finishes are my forte am going to try a buffing wheel next ya but as you said i need to open it up first will let you know how it goes the basic thing is the x1 metals are anodized so i thing there is a liquid remover for them that will maintain the Matt finish and give it a nice gunmetal finish lets see how it goes cheers READ THIS http://www.trials-forum.co.uk/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t115931.html
Paul | Jul 29, 2009 2:34 AM
Good luck with removing the finish. I admit if you were to remove the finish without having to sand away the texture, it would have a very nice appearance. The only hard part I can see would be making sure your liquid remover doesn't get on the back side of the cover, as having the back side remain black is kind of nice. I am surprized Sony didn't just release a version of this phone without the anodized finish. As it would be cheaper for them to produce and people would like it.
Lollylost100 | Jul 31, 2009 4:29 PM
I tried this but after using a scratch remover the scratches still seem to be there and the surface isn't as shiny as the one you got. Any help on this??
Paul | Aug 1, 2009 2:59 AM
Lollylost, Its important to start with a rougher grit sand paper (300) in the beginning, and to not stop sanding until you have completely removed all black paint and machined texture. Then after that step it up with a finer grit (600). Keep sanding until you have fully removed all 300 grit scratches. Then move up to the 1000 grit, and then finally a 1600 grit. For each grit you have to use a lot of pressure, and don't be surprized if you spend 15-30 minutes with each grit. I found that wet sanding it also helped, so take this project to the kitchen sink ( for all grits ) Finally after using the 1600 grit you should have something that has a dull shine. You should be able to make out your face in the reflection but it will be all blurry. It will have a semi reflective satin sheen to it. Once you get it to this point, use a tiny bit of the Blue Magic Metal Polish Creme. Keep in mind you have to put a lot of pressure on this as your are buffing. I personally got blisters on my thumbs from this part. The friction alone should heat up your clothe, to the point you almost burn your hand. The key is to use a lot of pressure. You will truely put your blood sweat and tears into this. As you buff a thin layer of the metal will come off, your clothe will turn black as you do this. Then switch to a clean part of your clothe and buff away the residue. You should see an almost perfect mirror finish now. During the polishing stages just do a small section at a time. Until finally your finished. If at the end you have a mirror finish but yet you can see a few scratches, this means you moved too fast from one grit to another. Mine was not perfect, as it has some of these scratches, and I may try to tackle this at a later time, but for now I am happy with the results.
kaizzaad | Aug 1, 2009 3:01 PM
paul can i have the link for opening the x1 front
Paul | Aug 1, 2009 4:24 PM
Sony Xperia X1 Disassembly Front

Sony Xperia Disassembly Rear
Robin | Aug 4, 2009 12:21 AM
Hey paul, is there a particular movement you have to do to sand the back cover. Is it beter to move in circles or vertical up-down?
Paul | Aug 4, 2009 12:35 AM
Robin. I used back and forth motions. This is very beneficial as you can sand against the grain of the texture. So when you first start off with the black paint and factory texture. Sand against the grain and not with the grain. This way you can hold it up and see how if there is any texture left of the opposite direction. Then change directions as you upgrade to finer grits. On the sides I just sanded the long way ( easiest ). The important part is to make sure you completely remove the scratches from the previous grit of sand paper. Else the finaly product will look good, but you will still be able to make out some of those 300 scratches you missed.
Doug | Aug 17, 2009 5:19 PM
Hi Paul That looks fab. did you remove the front fascia and do the same as you thought you might? I'd love to do so but I'm too scared to - those disassembly movies are something else! It looks like you have to take the whole device apart to remove the front cover. cheers
Paul | Aug 18, 2009 5:22 AM
Doug, Eventually I will get the front cover done, but right now I am working on other projects. When I get the front cover done I will make a new blog entry to document that.
doug | Aug 19, 2009 5:17 PM
Good luck with it. Full disassembly and reassembly instructions are at http://rapidshare.com/files/155696508/Guide_Working_Instructions_Mechanical_X1i.pdf.html . If you go for it, you're a braver man than me!!
doug | Aug 21, 2009 6:48 PM
well I did it. Took my phone apart and polished the front plate as well as the back one. It wasn't easy and at one point I thought I had borked the phone. Disassembling requires unsticking things then resticking afterwards so will most definitely break the warranty and isn't easy. And the touchscreen wouldn't work afterwards until I took it apart and removed every last spec of polish from the back of the front bezel. Polishing the front isn't easy either as it's not a big surface like the back (it's fiddly), also as it doesn't seem possible to remove one of the plastic bars or the earpiece. But it does look good, even though it isn't as perfect as the back. And a top tip, I discovered my electric toothbrush (using an old head obviously) is very good at polishing small metal items! Polishing

Polished battery cover

Polished front

(note phone was originally Black)

Polished back

Lance | Aug 23, 2009 8:56 AM
The is a concerning issue on battery covers. Check it out
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