6 Steps to Prepare an iPhone for Sale Right Way

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With new iPhone models just around the corner, many existing iPhone owners may be thinking about upgrading and selling their existing devices to move to new models. But before you market or trade in your iPhone, you need to properly prepare it for sale by supporting it up, erasing your data and deactivating the device from your mobile service provider.

In six easy steps, we’ll cover exactly what you need to do to properly prepare an iPhone for resale.

1: Back Up Twice to iTunes and iCloud

Regardless of whether you plan on selling the iPhone on Craigslist, eBay, to a friend or family member, or passing it on to one of the myriad trade-in services, always take the time to go back up the appliance in advance. The reason is quite simple; with backups, you can easily upgrade to a new iPhone by choosing migrate over everything up right where you left off, with customizations, apps, settings and everything.

We actually recommend using a double backupup to make back-up locally on one computer and another stored in iCloud. Simple redundancy largely guarantees that you have an easily accessible backupup when your new appliance arrives.

1a: Backing up locally on the computer

  • Connect iPhone to a computer and launch iTunes
  • Select the iPhone, look under “Backups”, choose “My Computer” and then click “Back” Up Now”

Back up iPhone to computer with iTunes

When that’s done, go to iCloud to get the second backupup to complete.

1b: Backing up to iCloud

  • From the iPhone itself open “Settings” and then to “iCloud”
  • Go to “Storage and backupup”and tap” Back Up Now”

Again, backups are essential for migrating from an old iPhone to a new one with ease. When you buy a new iPhone, all you need to do is backupup to restore to and you can use all your settings, apps, and customizations on the new device. Piece of cake.

2: Turn off iMessage

Disable iMessage for it phone keeps the number from accidentally receiving incoming iMessages directed at you after it changes hands. This is especially important for CDMA providers such as Verizon and Sprint, where there is no SIM card to remove and the phone number remains active until it is deactivated or switched via the provider.

  • Open “Settings” and go to “Messages”
  • Set the switch for “iMessage” to OFF

Simple, but important to avoid mix-ups or lost iMessages.

3: Unregister iPhone from Apple

Unregister the iPhone will remove it from your association with your Apple ID. Many people overlook this, but it is important and takes less than a minute:

  • Log in to Apple support with your Apple ID
  • Select the iPhone from the list of devices, choose ‘Unsubscribe’ and confirm that you want to deregister the device with your Apple account

Unregister the iPhone from Apple

That is it. Now the phone will no longer be associated with you or your Apple ID or Apple Support Profile.

4: Unlock iPhone to Increase Resale Value *

If you have an AT&T iPhone, please take a few minutes to request a carrier unlock. Unlocking the iPhone with AT&T is not only extremely easy, but it is also fast these days and you can often be done within 30 minutes. The reason to bother is simple, it increases the value of the iPhone, often by $ 100 or more, as once unlocked it can be used on alternative GSM carriers ranging from T-Mobile in the US to a large number of international service providers.

  • Grab the IMEI number of the device and then head over to AT & T’s page to start the process

iPhone models from other carriers, including Sprint and Verizon, may also have an unlocking option for devices with SIM slots, although you should contact those carriers directly to inquire about their respective unlocks.

Again, this will significantly increase the resale price if you’re selling an iPhone in the retail market, so take the time to do it.

* Unlocking a device is most valuable for retail resale and usually unnecessary if you plan to trade in iPhone for Apple or another reseller service

5: Remove SIM card / Deactivate iPhone

You don’t want to inadvertently pass your cellular plan over to the new owner, so you need to make sure the device is deactivated before selling it. This prevents the iPhone from making and receiving calls or transferring data, and the process is simple but varies slightly depending on the cell phone and CDMA providers:

  • AT&T, T-Mobile, and GSM provider iPhones can easily remove the SIM card from the phone and that is usually enough to deactivate the device
  • Verizon, Sprint and CDMA Providers usually require you to contact the carrier directly to request deactivation, either by phone or by going to a local store and requesting a deactivation of the device

Remember, you probably don’t want to deactivate the mobile account, and instead just deactivate the device itself, otherwise you can use your phone number. This is very easy with GSM devices because the phone number and service are tied to the SIM card, while it is a bit more complicated with CDMA providers as there is no removal SIM card, so it is best handled by a representative of the respective mobile companies.

6: Erase iPhone and reset to factory settings

You are almost done! Now all you have to do is erase everything from iPhone and restore it to factory settings. Only do this after you have made a backup, otherwise you will lose everything you once had on the iPhone itself.

  • Launch Settings and go to “General”, then scroll down and choose “Reset”
  • Select “Erase all content and settings” and confirm the reset by selecting “Erase iPhone”

Erase iPhone and reset it to factory settings

The reset process is quite quick and once it is done, the iPhone will reboot as if it were brand new, to the default welcome screen and setup process. Don’t bother going through the installation process, just let it be (unless, of course, you’re trying to help the new owner).

Your iPhone is now ready to sell or move to its new iPhone home!

Also considering selling or upgrading a Mac? Don’t miss our guide about properly preparing a Mac for sale.

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The time to complete the 6 Steps to Prepare an iPhone for Sale the Right Way tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

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mac OS


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