What to Do Before You Sell Your Old iPhone

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You love your new iPhone, but what to do with your old one? There are various uses for it, but why not just sell it for some cold, hard cash?

Most people buy iPhones under contract at a steep discount, so replacing a broken one can cost upwards of $700. This means that the iPhone you paid $400 for two years ago is still worth at least $200 today – more if it’s in perfect condition.

Of course, since your iPhone basically has your entire life on it, you need to be very careful about how you prepare it for sale so you don’t give away vital private information like credit card numbers or passwords.

If you follow the steps below before you sell your old iPhone, you’ll not only clear any and all private data from it — you might even get a little extra cash out of it.

Back It Up

While you should back up your iPhone on a regular basis, you really need to make sure you get one final backup from it before completing the remainder of this list. Even if you did one to transfer to your new iPhone, it doesn’t hurt to do it one more time. If you forgot something important, you’ll be glad you did.

iCloud Backup screen on iPhone

Depending on how you back up your iPhone, either plug it into your computer or use iCloud Backup via Settings > iCloud > Backup and tap the Back Up Now link.

Next, verify that your pictures are saved to Dropbox, iCloud, or iPhoto. Verify that your email, contacts, and calendars are synced using whatever service you use. Once you’re certain everything you need is saved somewhere, you can move forward with removing private data.

Remove Your Accounts

This step of the process may be overkill, but better safe than sorry when it comes to private data.

Head over to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and tap on each account shown, then tap on Delete Account to remove it from your device. Do this for each account except iCloud; we’ll hit that one next.

To remove your iCloud account, tap on Settings > iCloud and scroll to the very bottom. Tap the Sign Out link to remove iCloud from your device.

iCloud settings screen showing Sign Out link

It’s a good idea to sign out of Twitter and Facebook this same way by heading to Settings > Twitter and Settings > Facebook.

Unlock Your iPhone

This is a big one. If your iPhone can be used on phone networks other than the one you’re currently on, then it makes sense to unlock it for the next person. This means you can sell it to a wider audience and ideally get more money for it since you’re not locking the buyer into one carrier.

This varies greatly depending on the carrier you’re currently using for service, so check with them to see if they allow carrier unlock. Usually if this is allowed you must be out of contract and in good standing with your bill.

This must be done while your iPhone’s still able to be used and with the SIM card in place, so don’t leave this to the end of the list – do it now. Just call your carrier and ask them about “carrier unlock.”

Take Pictures Now

Before resetting your iPhone to factory settings, you should take pictures or videos of your device in working condition for potential buyers to see. Once you reset it you won’t have access to the menus and basic functionality of the phone without setting it up as a new device again.

It’s best to ship your iPhone in the fully erased and blank state, so get your pictures done now while you still can show the phone functioning.

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Erase Content

Take a minute to make sure you have all your important data saved somewhere –after this, there’s no going back.

To take your iPhone back to factory settings, go to Settings > General and at the very bottom tap Reset. In this menu, tap Erase All Content and Settings. Verify your choice, and your iPhone will start clearing everything off and resetting itself to factory settings.

Reset screen on iPhone

When this step is complete your iPhone is ready for sale. There are two more steps to fully protect your security, and one final step for good measure.

Unregister From Your Apple Account

Now that your iPhone is tabula rasa, you want to remove it from your account so it’s not linked to you in any other way. You do this by going into your Support Profile with Apple by going to this link and removing it.

Apple My Support Profile web page showing iPhone model and serial number

Once logged in, click Remove Product and you won’t see it there anymore. This is important because until you do this the iPhone is still linked to you and your account – which is a bad thing when you’re selling it to a complete stranger.

No More SIM Card

The last step for security purposes is to remove the SIM card and destroy it. SIM cards are only good for one use, and anyone buying your iPhone will need to either swap cards with their old device or request a new one from their carrier.

Closeup of tool being used to remove SIM card from iPhone

To remove the SIM card you can use the tool pictured above, which at one time came with new iPhones. Or you can go to an Apple store or your carrier’s local store and ask them to remove it for you. Don’t worry about keeping it, as once you activate a new phone with a new SIM card the old one’s basically worthless.

Make It Shine

Finally, before you sell your old iPhone you should give it a good cleaning. There are some safety concerns when doing this, so make sure to follow Apple’s cleaning and care tips here.

Once it’s clean and emptied out, you’re good to go. Head over to eBay or your favorite place to sell online and get some cash for that old iPhone. You’ll be surprised how much you can actually get!

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