The Google Nexus 5 is a great smartphone that was released in 2013. But like many of the best phones on the market these days, it has a battery that’s not meant to be replaced.

I’ve been using a Nexus 5 as my primary phone since shortly after it was released… and while the phone never got stellar battery life, the battery runs down a lot more quickly today than it did a year ago.

So I decided to throw caution to the wind and try replacing the battery myself.

nexus 5 open_03

There are a number of places to pick up spare Nexus 5 batteries. I found one that sells for $10.65 on Amazon and which has mostly positive reviews from customers. Shipping was free but slow, but the battery seems to be exactly as described.

Update: After using the phone with the new battery for about a week, I’m not sure I’d recommend buying one from the same source I used. Battery life seems no better, and maybe even a little worse. I suspect the cheap battery I bought may have been used or refurbished. Theoretically the battery upgrade process could help prolong the life of a phone, but only if you can be certain that you’re replacing the original battery with a better/fresher one.

I already had a set of device opening tools, so the total cost of this project would have been less than $11… if I hadn’t broken a few of those plastic tools while trying to open the phone’s case. I’ve still got a few sturdy metal tools though, so I haven’t decided whether to order replacements yet.

Anyway, what you need to do is slide a narrow, sturdy piece of plastic or metal into the side of the phone, where the back cover meets the rest of the phone’s case and try to pry open the plastic latches holding the cover in place. It takes patience to do this without breaking the case — so proceed with caution.

It took me about 10 to 15 minutes to get the case open. Near the bottom of the phone there’s some adhesive, so you’ll need to apply a little extra pressure to open that section.

Once the cover is off, you need to remove a plate that covers the motherboard by removing 6 screws with a small Phillips screwdriver. Then lift the plate away from the rest of the phone.

There’s a daughterboard connector covering the battery. You can lift this pretty easily with a spudger tool or with your fingers. There’s also a smaller battery connector which you’ll need to remove.

Finally, there’s some adhesive holding the battery in place, so you’ll need to use a sturdy plastic or metal tool to pry the battery away.

Once all of that is done, just insert the new battery, attach it to the motherboard, re-attach the daughterboard connector and reverse the rest of the steps.

While the video shows an overview of the process, I’m working with a new camera and tripod and I had a nasty habit of filming my hands instead of the phone. So if you want some better pictures of the process, check out the battery replacement guide at iFixit.

I’ve been on a battery replacing kick lately. Last month I replaced the battery in my Samsung Series 9 ultrabook: another device that wasn’t supposed to have a user serviceable battery.

The laptop runs for about an hour longer on a charge than it did before the battery surgery, and I’m hoping that’s good enough to keep me from spending money on a new laptop before the end of the year.

Hopefully the new Nexus 5 battery will similarly breathe new life into my aging smartphone.

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16 replies on “Google Nexus 5 battery replacement surgery”

  1. Hey guys i need your help!! I did rplaced the battery of my N5 with a genuine LG battery. After closing the case I restart the phone but now seems that the signal of 3G it is almost disappeared and the H signal is not good too. I think I jaguardise the some element of the antenna. Could you please help me resolve this issue???!!

  2. my nexus 5 becomes no signal after i replace the battery, anyone knows why ?

  3. When attempting a battery surgery like this, its also important to remember that your phone might die during the process. Therefore its very important to back up any data before the process, and if you have sensitive data stored on the phone, do a full wipe and erase all data on the phone before attempting the surgery. You also need to have a replacement phone ready in case something goes wrong during the process. After the operation everything needs to be copied back to the phone and all apps must be re-installed. The same goes for shipping the phone in for official battery service from the OEM.

  4. I’ve just replaced my N5 with the battery from the LG G2 this week. With some tweaks to the chassis it fits without any difference from the outside. Wireless charging/NFC, everything works! That’s a new 3000mah over the original 2300mah in the N5. So far things are looking pretty good. Once I’ve done some testing, I’ll happily give an update but so far, metrics are stating over 30% battery life over the used original.

  5. Google needs to release project Ara so that we don’t have to be stuck with one battery for two plus years while waiting for a new phone.

    Or a new Nexus 5 (2015) could be released in October.

  6. Thanks to the Android update, my N5 has worse battery life than ever. Oh sure, it might be something else. One thing is certain, I didn’t experience that “improved battery life”. Coincidence, but I think not. New battery? No way. If it’s not stock, then it’s going to die faster than a good quality stock battery. My opinion of course. When it comes to batteries, is there really a short cut? Short term perhaps, but cheap is cheap for a reason.

  7. Given that I tend to keep my phones a long time — my two mobile phones were a Motorola SLVR L7 (2005) a refurbished LG Optimus T (2010) — I took the time to confirm that you could replace the battery of the phone before I bought my new LG G2 a couple of weeks ago, and yes, there’s more than one YouTube video that explains exactly how to do it, so I’m all set for another 5 years!

    Perhaps this one will last even longer. My older phones still work just fine except for one thing — they’re so old and slow that it is virtually impossible to load even a small mobile web page these days. I’m curious to know whether the Internet will have moved on far enough in another 5 years to make the LG G2 obsolete… My guess? Probably not.

  8. Let me know how that works out for you. My OG N5’s battery is kicking it earlier than usual too and would be really like to spend $11 instead of $600.

  9. And people think I am weird that I will not buy a phone that does not have a replaceable battery.

    1. Not weird. It’s just getting harder and harder to find such devices. Of the 2015 flagships so far, your only choice is the LG G4 (not a bad choice). It’s one of those features that a lot of people have just given up on in favour of whatever other feature they’d rather have instead. Everything is just a matter of deciding what compromises you are willing to live with to have feature XYZ.

      1. I believe it’s mostly to do with manufacturers wanting to make phones as thin and light as possible. Thin and light are two of the most important bullet points on any phone’s spec sheet these days. Using a replaceable battery necessarily takes more room inside a phone and almost certainly adds to the manufacturing costs too.

        Given that so many people upgrade their phones every couple of years, my guess is that most flagship phone consumers never get to the end of their phone’s battery life anyway. Just another example of our throw-away culture.

        1. I don’t disagree at all. Thin and light are great, but it’s kind of a pissing contest between manufacturers which compromises functionality. I don’t need my phone to be 0.1mm thinner than the next guy; they’re getting harder to hold being so thin.

          The last phone I had with a removable battery was my Galaxy S2X (Hercules), and since then it’s been sealed battery phones: Nexus 4, Nexus 5, One M8. All of those phones are still in use by myself or family, but man they would all live a little longer with a removable battery. The N4 still works pretty well as a low-mid range smartphone, but her battery isn’t what it used to be. Removable batteries are climbing back up my list of desired feature for my next phone.

        2. Actually having a removable battery allows the phones to be thinner than if they had a non-removable battery. If the battery is non-removable they need to add a very large battery to compensate for future degradation and the inability to insert a high capacity battery, or carry spare batteries, so it needs to be very big to give the same “value” as a smaller removable battery. Having a 2000 mAh removable battery is a lot more valuable to the consumer than a 3000 mAh non-removable battery, and the first alternative will probably mean a thinner phone.

          Its true that many people upgrade the phone every 2’nd year, or often sometimes even more frequently. But many of these upgrades is mainly because the battery has degraded. I know a lot of people that buy new phones just because the battery has worn out, and its difficult for them to replace it since its not removable. To replace the battery is so cumbersome and expensive that they just choose to buy a new phone instead.

          That also illustrates the (real) main reason why OEM’s choose non-removable batteries. If it’s difficult for consumers to replace the battery they are pushed towards more frequent upgrades, and the OEM’s will sell more phones.

    2. As this article shows. There are ALOT of phones that have replaceable batteries. You just need the guts to go ahead with the operation. Dont limit your choices just because the battery may be a little difficult to extract.

      One of the big trade-offs with swap able batteries is you loose alot of Wh /mAh for a similar size battery that is ‘built in’ since the swappable batteries have thick plastic cases filled with electrons you cant make use of. 🙁

      1. I am currently using an LG Optimus G Pro. It is a couple of years old but is still a great phone. The stock battery is over 3,000 mAh. The phone is also quite thin. I also have a zerolemon 9,000 mAh battery that I use when I use my marine navigation app or when I go camping. Sure, I could use an external battery but the ability to use the battery size I want, when I want it is awesome.
        Opening things that were never designed to be opened is nothing new for me. I have hacked a lot of hardware over the years. Manufactures are making harder all the time. They WANT everyone to buy a new device. I am glad Brad was able to upgrade his battery but it could have gone a different direction and he could have ended up with a brick.

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