7 Steps to Gifting an Old iPhone & Getting It Ready for New Ownership

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If you have an iPhone that collects dust and is no longer used, you may want to sell it, or maybe even more worthwhile, give it to a friend or family member. Regardless of who it goes to, if you are transferring an iPhone to a new owner, there are several steps you will want to take to prepare the iPhone for a new owner.

Having recently experienced this with an older iPhone lying in a drawer, I thought it would be okay to go through the stairs again. Not only is this for people selling an iPhone to someone else, it’s also great if you’re going to donate a device or give an iPhone (or iPad) to someone else and just want to know the right steps to take prepare it for the next owner. We’re going to get your stuff off the device and clean it up, resetting, removing the SIM card and more.

1: Back Up Get personal information, your photos, etc.

You may still have some personal information on iPhone, so you want to delete it first. The best thing to do is just do a quick backupup on a computer with iTunes, that way you will get a backup file of the whole device if you decide it is necessary (you can also extract photos from iPhone backupup as needed) .

Then get your photos from iPhone by transferring them to computer, be it Windows PC or Mac. Just make sure you get that stuff from the phone so you don’t miss anything when you clean it up.

2: Update iPhone to the latest iOS version

It is good practice to update an iPhone’s system software before transferring it to a new owner. This is especially true if the device has been in a closet or drawer for a while and has an outdated version.

This is simple and you can do it directly on the iPhone without using a computer (but you can of course also update via iTunes):

  • Go to “Settings” and go to “Software Update”
  • Install any updates that are waiting

The iPhone 4S that I just updated for new ownership lagged iOS 6.0.1 (!) And updated to iOS 7.1.1, which is a big leap with many improvements.

3: Turn off iMessage, FaceTime and iCloud

You want to manually turn off the iMessage and iCloud services before using the phone, this is so that the device is disconnected.

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ and then to ‘Messages’
  2. Set the switch for ‘iMessage’ to OFF
  3. Go back in Settings, now go to “iCloud”
  4. Search for “Find My iPhone” and set it to OFF
  5. Go down and choose “Delete account”

Failure to do so can lead to lost messages and common annoyances, so while it’s not completely necessary, it’s good practice.

4: Wipe iPhone to factory settings

The next up, you want to erase all personal data, apps, photos, media, messages, voicemails, everything, from iPhone. Apple has made this process really easy these days with a simple option to do a factory reset bundled in iOS settings:

  1. Open Settings and go to “General”
  2. Scroll down to “Reset” and choose “Erase All Content and Settings”
  3. Confirm to reset all content and settings – this basically formats the iPhone and removes everything from it

Reset iPhone to factory settings

The iPhone will reboot soon and be free of everything … almost ready for the new owner!

The video below continues how to reset to factory settings if you are confused:

When the iPhone is done factory reset, it will reboot as if it’s brand new – this is how you should give it to the new owner (unless you plan to pre-set it) up for those with apps, an Apple ID, etc., of course).

5: Physically clean the iPhone

Did you enjoy using your iPhone with greasy fingers while eating cheetos and dripping ice over the screen? Maybe the bathroom was your favorite iPhone reading spot? That’s great, but the new owner may not be too fond of a dirty iPhone lathered with whatever is on it. So do it courteously and physically clean up The iPhone.

The best way to do this is with a slightly damp, lint-free cloth (don’t use too much water or try to wash iPhone, too much liquid contact can cause damage). Turn OFF the iPhone (by pressing and holding the power button button and slide to OFF), then disconnect iPhone from all power sources (including USB) and gently wipe it with the cloth. Do not allow moisture to get into any openings and do not use solvents or chemical cleaners on iPhone as they can damage the surfaces.

6: Disconnect iPhone from your Apple account

If the new owner is someone you don’t know, you probably want to disconnect them from your Apple account and support profile. This is simple, just log in to the Apple site, find the device and choose “Disassociate”:

  • Go to Apple.com here to start the process

If you’re giving the iPhone to a family member, you probably don’t need to as it doesn’t hurt much to keep a family phone on the same support account.

7: Remove the SIM card

Do you have an iPhone with a SIM card? Grab a paperclip, turn the iPhone on its side and flip it out, it probably won’t help the new owner.

If the SIM card is still active, you’ll want to keep it nearby, otherwise it’s a small piece of plastic, to the trash can you go.

Optional: unlock the iPhone for other SIM carriers

If the iPhone is locked with AT&T and the contract period has expired, you can get one for free phone unlock from AT&T and it is often done within an hour.

An iPhone on Verizon or Sprint with a SIM card slot usually requires one phone calls to the respective support channel, but they usually unlock it phone also per request.

The iPhone is ready for a new owner!

That is it! The iPhone is supported up, data copied, factory reset, gunky screen cleaned, device disconnected from Apple account and SIM card removed … and maybe even unlocked, it’s good to go to new owner!

Do you have something special tips, tricks, or additional steps you take when preparing an iPhone for a new owner? Let us know in the comments!

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7 Steps to Gifting an Old iPhone & Getting It Ready for New Ownership: FAQ

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The time to complete the 7 Steps to Gifting an Old iPhone & Getting It Ready for New Ownership tutorial is 10+ minutes.

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mac OS


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