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10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your iPhone

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Are you ready to sell or give away your iPhone so you can get a new one or switch to Android? If you can find the right buyer, you’re typically able to get much more than your phone’s trade-in value. Or perhaps you know of someone who needs a new phone and you’re willing to give yours away.

Your phone contains pretty much your entire life. That’s why it’s so important to erase all of your personal data before getting rid of it. You wouldn’t want the next owner to have access to your messages or your credit card information. 

You want to be able to transfer your data to your new phone as seamlessly as possible. Besides, it’s much easier for the new owner to use the phone once your data is erased.

It can feel overwhelming to try to figure out what exactly you need to do before selling or giving away your iPhone. Here is a simple checklist of steps to follow so you don’t forget anything.

1. Check whether your phone is fully unlocked

Where did you originally buy your iPhone? If you bought it directly from the Apple store, it’s likely already unlocked and can be used with any carrier. Buying it from a specific carrier, on the other hand, usually means the phone is tied to that carrier and may not be compatible with other carriers.

You’ll probably be able to get more money for your iPhone if it’s fully unlocked. For that reason, you may want to unlock it before finding a buyer. You can do this by contacting your carrier and asking them to fully unlock your iPhone.

2. Gather your phone accessories

Depending on which kind of phone you’re upgrading to, you may need to buy new accessories such as a charger, phone case, screen protector, and more. Provided that your old accessories are still in good condition, you can include them with the phone you’re selling or giving away as an extra benefit.

If you still have the original packaging your phone came in, you might be able to get a little bit more money when selling your iPhone. Switching to Android? You may want to offer your AirPods to your new buyer at an additional cost and buy new Bluetooth headphones that are more compatible with your new Android.

3. Back up your phone

When it comes to backing up your phone data before you erase it, you can use either iCloud or iTunes. If you use iCloud to automatically back up your data, you’ll still want to do a manual backup of your data on iCloud one last time. For iTunes, connect your phone to your computer, open the iTunes app, and select your phone under Devices to back it up.

Some third-party apps have options to back up your data on the app itself. For example, WhatsApp allows you to back up your chats. Just go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. It’s wise to manually back up your third-party apps in case something goes wrong during the data transfer to your new phone.

4. Make sure your photos are stored somewhere else

If all goes well with your data backup, you should be able to easily transfer all of your photos to your new device. But things can go wrong, and it’s a shame to lose precious photos because of a technical hiccup.

Perhaps you already store all of your photos in iCloud, in which case you don’t have to worry about this step. Otherwise, make sure your photos are transferred onto your computer as part of your iTunes backup. There is an option to include Photo Library during the backup, so be sure to select it. To be safe, confirm that your photos are in fact in your Photo Library before erasing your phone data.

5. Unpair your Apple Watch

Obviously, you’ll only need to do this step if you have an Apple Watch. The main reason to unpair your Apple Watch is to make sure the watch does not continue sending your information to the phone after it’s no longer yours.

To unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone, start by opening the Watch app. Then, go to All Watches > (i) > Unpair Apple Watch > Unpair [Name’s] Apple Watch. You may need to enter your Apple ID password to disable the Activation Lock. Once you’ve completed this, your Apple Watch is ready to be paired with your new phone.

6. Turn off Find My iPhone, iMessage, and FaceTime

As part of the preparation process, there are a few settings you need to turn off on your old iPhone, namely Find My iPhone, iMessage, and FaceTime. These all need to be disabled so they are not used by future owners to access your information.

To turn off Find My iPhone, go to Settings > [Name] > Find My iPhone. Once you toggle it off, you will be asked for your Apple ID and password. Then, turn off iMessage and FaceTime in your Settings as well. If you’re switching to an Android phone, deregister your phone number from iMessage so you don’t miss any texts.

7. Sign out of Apple ID and iCloud

Next, sign out of your Apple ID and your iCloud account. This will prevent people from spying on you through iCloud. Make sure all of the previous steps are completed before you do this since you need to be signed in with your Apple ID in order to use your phone.

To sign out of your Apple ID and iCloud account simultaneously, navigate to Settings > [Name] > Sign Out. Decline the option to keep a copy of your Keychain, contacts, and other data since you don’t need them on your old iPhone.

8. Erase all data from your phone

It’s finally time for the big erase! Take a moment to check that your data backup was successful before doing this. Once you erase your data, there’s no going back. It’s best to have your phone plugged in for this step since it can take a while.

Ready? Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. At this point, you may need to enter your passcode. You’ll be asked a final time whether you really want to delete your data and settings. Choose Erase iPhone.

9. Take out the SIM card

Before giving your iPhone to its new owner, remove your SIM card so you can use it for your new phone. To do this, you’ll need a SIM eject tool or something else that will fit in the small hole on the side of your phone.

It’s quite possible you’ve misplaced your SIM eject tool since purchasing your last phone. If that’s the case, you can use an earring, paperclip or staple to do the trick. Once you remove your SIM card, place it in a small bag so you don’t lose it.

10. Remove your phone from your Apple account

The last step is to remove your iPhone from your list of trusted devices. To do this, you’ll need to access your Apple account from another device, such as a MacBook or iPad. If you don’t have another Apple device, you can go directly to Apple’s website to unlink your iPhone from your Apple ID.

On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Apple ID. On the lefthand side, you’ll see a list of your trusted devices. Select your old iPhone and then click Remove from Account. If you see any devices you don’t recognize, remove those as well.

Whenever you’re selling or giving away your iPhone, make sure all of your data is backed up and erased before passing it along. This will protect your personal information and make it as easy as possible for the new owner to enjoy the phone. When you’re ready to activate your new phone, simply transfer the data and settings from your old phone using iCloud or iTunes.

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