Dexcom G5 (and xDrip) questions

I just got the notice that my G4 transmitter battery is low yesterday. This means I have to decide today if I want to order another G4 or upgrade to the G5.

At the moment neither of the devices I’d want to use the G5 with (t:slim X2 and Fitbit Ionic) are available. And the G5 is also considerably more expensive than the G4 if I can’t stretch transmitter use. So I have some questions before diving in:

Does anyone know exactly how the “subscription” model in Canada works? Can I just buy transmitters separately? Or can I subscribe for a year only and then cancel?

Does anyone know if you can change the background colour (and other colours) of xDrip?

If using xDrip, can one set it so that hteir BG shows up on their lock screen? Can the font type and size of such a display be customized?

Also, does anyone know if the “backfill” capability works in Canada?

Any other thoughts from people who have used both would be interesting to hear.

@Jen, I don’t know about Canadian laws, but I have read that transmitters are sold individually in Canada (I may be incorrect).

Xdrip definitely allows you to change the colors/typeface of the fonts, but I am not entirely sure about the background colors.

You can run a widget on your homescreen which is resizeable, and can allow the bg #s to show on your lockscreen (optional).

I would assume the backfill would work, as it is controlled by the transmitter. I read on another post it was every G5 transmitter after the N alpha character that backfilled. With product rotation issues on the battery shelf life, I would be fairly confident it would backfill.

Unless you plan on replacing the transmitter batteries yourself (or outsourcing it) the G4 is a better financial option IMHO.

There is no way I can do this myself (unless I get a degree in electronics), but I had heard that with xDrip you could run the transmitters for around six months. If I can do that, I think the cost would approximately equal what I currently spend on the G4.

But yeah, cost is really my only hesitation. I also like the receiver because it’s a standalone device. I don’t need to worry about my phone batteries dying or missing a BG notification assuming it’s a text message. You can buy a G5 transmitter for $500, but it’s an optional device and with the bright white background I’m giving it a pass.

The other option I’ve considered is buying a Libre to tide me over until the t:slim or Ionic functionality get here. But again, the bright white screen is a huge turn off. I wish these devices had options to reverse background colour. It’s not like that would be a hard feature to include…

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I am on day 180 with my G5 on Xdrip.
It is reading a higher resistance, and has been for a while, but the BG readings have been good, so I will continue with this until it truly dies.

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@jen, the default wallpaper on Xdrip is black. The transmitters so last ~ 6ish months, and changing the $3 worth of batteries takes me approximately 40 minutes plus time for the epoxy to set up. A Dremel tool works crazy well for the task.

My problem with a black background is that I have “reverse contrast” enabled on my phone (since most apps are white). So it would mean the background would be white for me, unless I turned off the reverse contrast every time I went into the app, which would be annoying. It would be great if it could be set to white so that it would appear black when using reverse contrast. (And conversely, it would be great if the standalone receivers, both Dexcom and Libre, could be set to a black background.)

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I could probably learn to do this, but I think it would be a lot more time-consuming for me to figure out how to do this with very limited vision. I’d rather just pay someone to do it. :slight_smile:

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Seconding that. I started using it as a “bridge” to keep my Dexcom going when I was in the process of shifting over to MdT Guardians. xDrip took me about three weeks past the point where the G5 had refused to start another session due to “low battery.” xDrip was still showing plenty of power left when I finally made the switch, and in email exchanges with the developer, Johan Degraeve, he told me he was frequently getting in the neighborhood of 6 months with his.


I would hazard a guess you are actually quite skilled with a Dremel.
This really is not an easy task.

@Jen, Even if you got the G4 now and the Tandem became available tomorrow and you immediately decided you wanted to obtain it and work the payment and such…

All indications are that the Tandem will be approved in Canada for the integration with the Dexcom only but not with the additional Basal-IQ (PLGS) update. Won’t know for sure until it is actually approved and we all can see what is real. But that is my best guess.

Which means you could simply decide to continue running with the G4 non-integrated against a receiver while you also use the Tandem as a pump.

Bottom line. I would not make a Dexcom G4 vs G5 choice based on what is expected to be released for any given timeframe.

Pick the Dexcom based on today. Let tomorrow work itself out.

The 3-hour backfill does not work the G4. Nor does it work with xdrip. This 3-hour backfill technology works with the G5 when used with:

  • the new Dexcom Touchscreen Receiver,
  • Dexcom G5 Mobile App
  • Tandem t:slim X2

(I really like the backfill - it is awesome. I hate the data gaps that otherwise are a fact of life.)


I just completed one year on the G5 subscription plan. The way it works is that you’re committed (by contract) for one year, during which you’re billed $89.00 each month. In exchange you receive four G5 transmitters (one every 3 months in time for the forced expiry). So your transmitter cost for the year is 12x$89= $1,068. You also commit to purchasing at least least six boxes of four sensors, which are automatically billed ($340/box) and shipped, one box every 2 months. You can of course buy additional sensors as needed at $340/box. You can either cancel your subscription after 1 year or renew it (again, committing for a year).

The alternative is purchasing G5 transmitters on a one-off basis. I can’t recall the price but I think it’s $389 each. If you use them only for the 3 month period you would save several hundred dollars a year via the subscription plan.

One thing to note is that Canadian insurance is apparently not keen on the subscription plan and in fact I may not get reimbursed for transmitters regardless of the purchase method. I just found this out and am working through my 2017 claim with GWL so we’ll see how that goes.

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Yeah, I have PBC and my plan does not cover CGMs full stop. And I’m part of a union so have no “employer negotiation” power. But I’m advocating for CGM, pump, and Libre coverage to be part of the next round of union contract negotiations.

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Practice makes perfect… Said the novice (me)