For the Love of Cyan


Among the many advantages of Microsoft’s Lumia smart phones is that all of the most recent models are highly configurable, with easily removable shells that provide access to internal components like SIM cards, microSD and battery. But this capability also comes with a more visceral side-benefit: You can change the look and feel of your Lumia by choosing a shell with a different color as your mood dictates.

If you’ve followed Nokia’s—and now Microsoft’s—fashion-forward Lumia designs since their 2011 debut with the Lumia 800, then you know that they’ve always offered fun color choices. Cyan and magenta in the beginning, and then cyan and yellow, and then finally with the 2013 generation of devices, green and orange. But as the Lumia’s polycarbonate unibody designs gave way to more modular devices, these colors were no longer hard-coded in the form factor. And all of Microsoft’s current-generation Lumias now feature removable shells.

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Depending on where you live, and which device you’re shopping for, however, finding replacements can be difficult. Here in the US, where Lumias are about as popular as the Amiga was in the early 1990s, you can’t find much in the way of replacement shells at wireless carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile, let alone at major electronics retailers such as Best Buy. So Lumia fans usually need to look elsewhere.

For me, that means searching online, but I was surprised by the decent selection of Lumia shells at the Microsoft retail store in Bellevue during a recent trip. In retrospect, that makes sense, and the Microsoft Store of course also offered some nice new Lumia accessories too, including colorful USB portable chargers and wireless charging plates. You can also find these and other accessories at the Microsoft Store online, though of course availability both online and on-site will vary by device model, store location and date.

I’ve purchased shells and the Lumia accessories through, of course and from e-tailors such as Expansys and AliExpress, a China-based online store that is part of the Alibaba empire. (I’m sure there are many others.)

That said, I’m not necessarily “recommending” AliExpress so much as mentioning it as something I have used. Buying internationally from unknown sources is of course potentially unwise. And shipping can often take a while, though it’s always amusing for some reason when a little package arrives from China Post.


Such was the case, ahem, this past week when my replacement shell for the Lumia 535 arrived. You may recall from my review of the Microsoft Lumia 535 that the thin, bright green shell on this particular device was very hard to remove, and I ended up denting it a bit in getting it off. So I ordered a replacement from AliExpress … in original Lumia cyan. Suffice to say this neat little change has transformed my Lumia 535—which I use as a media player—into a newly retro-cool device. Which is awesome.


This kind of colorful change is particularly nice on devices with white shells. I replaced the white shell on my Lumia 520 with a yellow one in 2013. And I replaced the white shell on my previous media player, a Lumia 635, with a double-shot green version last year. With some devices, like the Lumia 830, you can even choose shells that have a flip case design for protecting the screen, an operation I performed on my own 830, going from an orange shell to an orange flip case. Some replacement shells come in versions that include wireless charging capabilities. These things vary by device.

Anyway, it’s not rocket science. Replace that shell and give your Lumia a new look. And let me know if you have a great source for these accessories. They can be hard to find.

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