Prepare and Wipe your iPhone for sale or Trade-in the right way

Apple has a history of launching new iPhone models every Fall, and this year is no different. With new iPhone models just around the corner, many iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch owners might be thinking about selling their existing iOS devices and upgrading to the latest one. But every device owner, before selling their device or trading it in must ensure that the device is ready for the sale or trade-in the right way by backing it up, wiping all your data from it, and deactivating it from your cellular service provider.

If you are planning on letting go your old iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and purchase the new model, then you should keep on reading. In this article, we will walk you through all the steps needed to prepare your device for sale quickly and in the right way.

prepare and sell old iphone

When should you sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

iOS users have to face a difficult decision whenever a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch model is arriving and they want to sell the current device. Unquestionably, the best time to sell your existing device is in the weeks before the official announcement of a newer model. Timing of selling the current device is very crucial. Selling the device before the official announcement of the new model can get you the best offer for your existing model. However, if you sell the device too early, you may end up with no phone for weeks and the duration may extend if you fail to reserve a device from the first wave of the new device. Are you prepared to live without an iPhone for several weeks or even months?

It’s important to have a reliable backup phone if you wanna sell your iPhone before the announcement of a new model and get good money for that. Think carefully about it before selling your phone.

If you do not have a reliable backup phone for your daily use, you should hold off from selling your iPhone until you can purchase the new one. Get the new iPhone model and then sell your old one, that’s the easiest way to go for, but is will not get you the best offer as a new model will be available in the market and prices for existing devices will go down. It is because, with the launch of a new iPhone, masses turn to eBay, Craiglist, and other classifieds websites to sell their older iPhones they no longer need.

How to prepare your iPhone for resale

1. Backup your device data

When you plan on selling your old iPhone or iPad to get a new one, you would surely want to get your apps, photos, other data transferred to your new iOS device. Regardless of whether you turn to Craiglist or eBay to list your device for sale, sell it to friend or family, or go for a trade-in service, it’s always a good idea to keep backup of your device beforehand. Backing up helps you upgrade to a new device very easily by migrating all your data including settings, iPhone contacts, photos, and more from old device to a new one and you start where you left off, with all your apps, customizations, settings, and more. This step is very important for those who want to sell their device before buying the new one. Create a backup of your device before you no longer have access to it.

There are two official ways to backup your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch: using iTunes and on iCloud. We recommend you to backup your device locally (using iTunes) and also on the cloud (using iCloud.) Simply follow our detailed guides, linked below, on backing up your device using both methods:

2. Disable iMessage

It’s important to disable iMessage from the iPhone you’re going to sell to ensure that the buyer does not get the iMessages that are aimed at you after the device ownership has been changed. To disable iMessage:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap on Messages
  3. Turn the iMessage toggle to OFF

disable imessage

Easy and quick, but it ensures that only you get the iMessage which are directed at you.

3. Disable Activation Lock or Find My iPhone

Apple has put in an anti-theft measure called “Activation Lock” in iOS 7 or later that makes your device unusable if it gets lost or stolen. The feature gets automatically enabled when you enable Find My iPhone on your device. If you’ve planned to sell your device, you should turn off Find My iPhone to disable Activation Lock by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap on iCloud
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on Sign Out (select Delete Account in iOS 7 or previous iOS versions)
  4. Tap on Sign Out again when the prompt appears
  5. Tap on Delete from My iPhone
  6. Enter your Apple ID password

icloud signout

In case you forgot to disable Activation Lock, the new owner might not be able to use the device unless you unregister it from your Apple account using one of these methods:

  1. Go to icloud.com/find
  2. Choose the device you sold
  3. Click on Erase
  4. Once the device has been erased, make sure to delete it from the list by clicking on Remove

erase icloud

Here’s is the seconds method, which is also easy but would be inconvenient for you as you’ll have to provide your Apple ID and its password to the new owner of your old device:

  1. Ask the new owner to Sign Out of iCloud account
  2. Then reset the device by going into Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content And Settings
  3. As soon as the reset process has been completed, change the password of your Apple ID to avoid the risk of losing control of your account.

4. Unlock your iPhone to boost its resale value

If you’re going to sell your iPhone that you had bought on-contract, it’ll likely be locked to your carrier. Many carriers lock your iPhone so you can use that iPhone on a single carrier only. Suppose your iPhone is locked to AT&T, it will limit the number of people to whom you can sell your device to. If you get your device unlocked, it’ll increase the pool of potentials buyer to a greater numbers, increasing your chances of getting a better deal and more money as your unlocked device would work on multiple carriers.

Check with your carrier to see how they handle the iPhone unlocking. If your device has been on the line for a certain period of time, some carriers will unlock it for free while others may charge a small fee. Unlocking happens quickly these days and it increases the price often by $100 or even more.

AT&T users can head over to this AT&T website URL with your device’s IMEI number to get started with the unlock process. For other carriers, you may have to contact directly to the respective carrier.

Please note that unlocking the device only increases the resale price if you sell it in the private market, but it’s usually not necessary if you intend to go for Apple’s trade-in program or another reseller service.

5. ‘Factory reset’ your device

Now it’s time to factory reset your device by erasing all of its contents and settings before finally handing it over to a new owner. Proceed with this step only after taking a backup of your device, or you may end up losing all your data and settings.

To factory reset your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset > and tap on Erase All Content And Settings
  2. If you had not disabled Find My iPhone, it will prompt you to do so now. Input your device Passcode – if you’ve set any – and then tap Erase to wipe and factory reset the device.

erase iphone

Once the reset process is completed, which is usually pretty quick, you’ll have a factory default settings with no data on your device. You’ll have to go through the standard iPhone or iPad setup process. There is no need to go through the setup process, let the new owner set it up the way he/she wants.

6. Unregister your device with Apple

Doing this will remove the association of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with your Apple ID. It is important and very easy:

  1. Open this link and login with your Apple ID credentials.
  2. Choose the device that you’re going to sell and click Remove Product. followed by the confirmation that you want to unregister the device from your Apple ID.

That’s it. Now that device will no longer be associated with your or your Apple ID.

deregister iphone

7. Deactivate the iPhone / Remove the SIM card

No one would want to pass their cell carrier plan to the new owner of the iPhone, so ensure to deactivate your device before handing it over to the new owner. This will prevent the device from making or receiving calls, or transferring data using your carrier plan. You can easily deactivate your phone, but the process slightly differs for GSM and CDMA carriers

  • For GSM carriers (such as AT&T, T-Mobile)
    Simply remove the SIM care from your iPhone and it’ll deactivate your device.
  • For CDMA carriers (such as Verizon, Sprint)
    Usually, CDMA carriers require you to contact them directly for deactivation. You can do that either by visiting a local store or by phone. Please note that you probably do not want to deactivate your carrier account, but only the device itself or you may lose you phone number.

Now you iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch is ready for resale or go to its new owner.