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Mon, 13 Jul 2020 01:40:15 GMT

Article: Colour your XDA Atom

By Imraneo
Published on Sunday, 13th August, 2006

There are mobile phones that enable you to express your ways in a unique manner. Those are the ones which either come with exchangeable covers (older Nokia models) or in variety of colours (Dopod 818pro, Moto V3). Don't you wish you could change the colour of any phone?

Well, that is of course if you painted them with the colour of your choice. That's what I did to my O2 XDA Atom. The unit came with a choice of black (original) and white (pure). The thing is, once you buy the black one, there is no way you can switch to white, or vice versa. No doubt, black was nice. But I found that the colour combination on the device a bit boring. The edges were matt black as well, with the front/back being glossy black. The unit attracting fingerprints was one major problem. I also thought that the matt edge and the front/back covers could have had different colours for a contrasting effect.

I ended up with Atom Orange. Lets get to the process of colouring it!

Opening the unit up

The rear of the unit could come out easily without requiring any tools. As for the front portion, it is secured by 4 T5 screws. Here's what I basically used to open up the unit:

The cash card shown above is what I used to pry open the unit's front face. Screw drivers used are torx5 (T5) and also a real small flat one. Be reminded that 2 of the T5 screws are covered with tiny warranty stickers. So opening up the unit will obviously void the warranty.

Opening up the rear top which hides the antennae requires some force to pry open. I would suggest not to use any tool, as this might damage the look of the plastic. Instead, try to use your fingernails for that. As for the front cover, use your fingernails to pry open one edge, and then insert the cash card (1-2mm thick) to pry open the edges all round. This part I would say is the most difficult in opening up the casing.

The above picture shows the front and centre piece apart. Notice that the front face piece has the speakers attached. This speaker module also contains the front buttons. All this is connected to the mainboard through a flex cable. From the mainboard, you can notice the camera, strobe flash light and the SIM card holder.

Here, the orange portion above shows the vibrator, which consists of a small motor with metal contacts and a weight attached to it, to give the vibrating effect. Next to it is the keypad portion which is glued to a rubber pad at the back. Every single piece is separate.

Ready to paint

Let me repeat the above pictures, This is where I lay out the black pieces which are meant to be coloured. The silver and clear pieces of the camera cover is partially clicked and partially glued. Bear in mind that in order to affix it back, you will need glue. (UHU glue will do). Before spray painting, you will need to clean the surfaces thoroughly. I felt that I need not apply any cleaning element. I just used my old Sony Ericsson cloth that came with my old T610. It's the same cloth that comes with a brand new pair of glasses. Just gloss the surface and make sure no dust settled on it while you spray.

The paint I used was nothing special. You may try other brands as well. The trick to getting good results is how you spray it. I got 3 cans - clear, orange and silver.

You can apply the clear coat first as a primer. This is to make sure the other coats stick on well. This is something I did not do, but it doesn't really make much difference, other than the fact I used more orange. Each piece had about 5 thin coats of orange, to make it nice and even; followed by 1-2 coats of clear for added protection. As you can see from the pictures (esp the right one), the first few coats will still reveal the black portions of the casing.

You will feel uneven-ness of paint over the surface, but just make sure its a thin coat, and allow sufficient time for it to dry for each coat. 30-45mins was enough for me. A thick coat can take up to a whole night to dry! I sprayed the silver round dial as well, as it wore out.

Putting it back together

I'm done with the painting and as you can see, I have assembled the camera cover and also the keypad round dial onto the rubber padding beneath it.

Here's a pretty interesting picture of the speaker module before it is assembled back onto the main unit. This unit consists of 2 speakers (of course), buttons for the keypad and also LEDs which light up when any button is pressed. It has a flex cable sticking out, which connects to the mainboard. It's a very customised design I must say.

Final touches

I assembled it very carefully, ensuring every screw is in the right place. Definitely a much easier task than opening up the unit.

Here's me holding up the unit after the assembly. Some inspection was done to ensure everything snapped into place. I also wiped the unit clean from dust.

Like all paint jobs, a deep scratch or knock could chip the pain off the surface. So in order to ensure the paint job last, I went for the final touch - gMask beauty wrap. I requested for a clear wrap over the painted areas, and this being my first gMask wrap, I was very pleased by the quality. I have heard many bad things about gMask, but I guess I was lucky. Here's the final picture after the wrap:

The keypad was also covered, so as to give it maximum protection without compromising its looks. The original glossy black was most prone to fingerprints, followed by the sprayed surface. Another major advantage of gMask was that it is almost 100% fingerprint-free. For more information on gMask, check out their official website.

To sum up...

It was worthwhile colouring the device, especially if you appreciate the colours that you want on the device. The downsides was of course the effort required, and as for my case, I still had 5 months of warranty left- which is voided in the process of opening up the unit. It definitely gives you a unique look to your device. An alternative to spray-painting would be doing a double-layer gMask. That adds a white opaque layer first, followed by a design of your choice. Probably a safer choice I guess in terms of warranty status.

Note that this review does not cover the very extreme details as to how the whole process was done. This article is just to give a brief idea onto what has gone through in the colouring process.

For questions/discussions, feel free to drop in to the Atom hangout forum.

Disclaimer: This article does not in any way encourage users to dismantle their devices. We at Absolutesurf.com do not hold any responsibility for any damage done to your devices in terms of warranty status, physical functionality or appearance. For any suggestions/comments, please access the contact page.

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