Nexus 5


Got my 32GB Google Nexus 5 from the play store.


First thing to do is unlock and root it:

Skip through the initial setup since unlocking will cause a factory reset anyway. This also lets me get into settings to find the MAC address to add it to my authorized MAC list in my router.

This is always a good time to update the version of all the android tools on the system in case the phone needs some new security feature feature or something in the android toolkit.

Next I go into "about phone" (under settings) and click the build number seven times to enable the developer features settings menu, then in the developer menu, enable USB debugging.

Now I plug the usb cable into computer (I'm using linux, so drivers aren't an issue, but I do seem to need to run all these commands as root) and try:

adb devices

There will be a security popup on the phone now. Tell the phone it is indeed OK for the debugger to talk to it, and you should now be ready to unlock by running these commands:

adb reboot bootloader
fastboot oem unlock

It will take a little while for the first command to finish the reboot into the boot loader, so make sure the boot load screen has come up on the phone before typing the 2nd fastboot command.

At this point, the phone will need rebooting again, and it will take a little time to go through the unlock process, but when it finally comes all the way back, it will once again be in the initial factory reset state, but now will remain unlocked forever (unless I explicitly do a fastboot command to lock it again).

Now I go through the initial setup screens for real. I've got the MAC authorized in my router now, so it can get Wi-Fi and do all the official setup things it likes to do. There were loads of apps wanting to load updates, so I got all those loaded.

Once again I need to enable the developer menu and enable USB debugging (since that all disappeared when I unlocked it).

Now I can see about getting the unlocked phone rooted.

I search for "supersu zip file" on google, wheich takes me to the xda-developers thread on SuperSU which contains a link to the location I'll find the .zip file I can use to install SuperSU while booted into recovery. I download this .zip file to the sdcard on the phone (I got at the time I was updating my phone).

Next I need a recovery image to boot into. I go to the TWRP project page and search for Nexus 5 to find the best recovery image (which, at the time I got my phone, was openrecovery-twrp- I download this onto my linux box.

Now it is time to plug in the USB cable again and run some more adb and fastboot commands to get SuperSU installed. Note that I needed to re-authorize USB debugging for my computer again since that got reset when the phone was unlocked:

adb reboot bootloader
fastboot boot openrecovery-twrp-

That gets me running TWRP recovery by booting the image over USB. I don't modify the recovery partition on the phone itself. This keeps it closer to stock and more likely to accept any new android updates that come over the air (that's the theory, anyway).

While I'm in recovery, I first click on "Backup" and pick the EFS partition to back up. According to random internet sources, this partition has critical identifying information for the phone and if clobbered, it is virtually impossible to get the phone working again, so I make this backup first thing. TWRP writes it to the sdcard storage.

Next I can click on "Install" and install the I downloaded above. I reboot, and once the phone is back up, I now have root access.

Things are not quite perfect yet. I go into the SuperSU app and click on the option to cleanup to prepare for reinstall from the play store. After I get back from yet another reboot, I can install the SuperSU app "officially" from the play store and I'll get updates and bug fixes as they become available.

At this point, I still have stock recovery, but I have a rooted phone, and I can proceed to install other useful apps which require root access such as Busy Box and Titanium Backup.

Port Number

Now comes the challenging part: Getting Virgin Mobile to release my number to T-Mobile so I can keep the same phone number.

I took the Nexus 5 and my old Virgin Mobile Motorola Triumph to the local T-Mobile store to see what would be involved. The challenges started with them wanting my Virgin Mobile account information, something that is apparently not my phone number or my access code. To get that number I had to call Virgin Mobile, spend 5 minutes trying to get through the automated message system to a human (selecting the "account info" option finally got them to transfer me to a real person, the trick of dialing "0" didn't work). Then I had to try and understand the incredibly faint voices at the other end of the line in a T-Mobile store full of muzack or just outside the store with traffic noise :-). After getting transferred around through a series of supervisors, and sitting on hold interminably, I finally found one who could read me the account number T-Mobile needed to make the transfer request. I wrote that down and completed my transaction with the T-Mobile store (wondering how long it might take to actually get the number ported).

Meanwhile, as soon as the T-Mobile SIM card went into the phone, I got a temporary number, so I could verify that the phone really worked and access the 4G-LTE data, etc.

The next day, I found a voice mail message on the phone from the T-Mobile phone porting folks saying there was some kind of problem, but I couldn't really understand what the message said because the voice was really faint. Anyway, I called them back, got back to the porting experts again and they looked up my info and said that Virgin Mobile didn't like the account they put in. I read it back to them again, and we finally figured out that I had written down an 'A', but the account numbers are supposed to be all digits, so what I probably should have heard was an '8' (they do sound kind of the same, especially with a faint connection in a noisy environment). The helpfull T-Mobile rep tried plugging in the same number with an '8' instead of an 'A', and it went through OK. He said we'd get cut off soon when the number got changed, and by golly, he was right. The first time ever being cut off on a phone call was a good thing :-). The number seems to be changed, and I think I'm all set now with my old number on the new phone.

Qi Charger

I also got a PowerBot Qi Charger which seems to work quite well even with the case:

Dilex Case

Ordered this Seidio Dilex Case at the same time, and it seems to fit fine and might even provide some protection. The kickstand seems to work nicely, though I'd actually prefer an identical case minus the kickstand since the extra lump on the back for the kickstand is more irritating than the kickstand is useful.

Page last modified Wed Apr 9 21:16:13 2014