Planning To Upgrade? Here’s How to Prepare Your iPhone for Sale

When should I sell?

Typically it’s best to sell right before the next model is announced. If you wait until afterwards, everyone else is trying to sell as well, or interest switches to the new models, and prices start to go down.

For the last few years Apple has shown off new iPhones in early September and released them at the end of the third or fourth week.

It may not be convenient, but if you have an extra phone lying around, even an old one, you can make more for your iPhone if you sell it ahead of the announcement than if you try to sell it after the launch. Even if you use a cheap pre-paid phone for a few weeks, you can flip your iPhone for more than you might be able to otherwise.

Before you Sell your iPhone:

1. Unlock your iPhone

An iPhone that can be used with any carrier, increases your chances of selling to anyone, in any region. This is especially true for travelers or resellers who operate internationally. So, if your iPhone is locked to a specific carrier, find out if you can have it unlocked. Some carriers charge for it and some may not. If there is a charge, and it’s not high, it could still be worth it to you to pay for the unlock since it could increase your resale value by an equal or greater amount.

Get the details, check the rates, and figure out if it’s worth it to you. For iPhones that are a few years old, it may be better to offer it as an option to the buyer for an extra price.

2. Unpair your Apple Watch

If you paired an Apple Watch with your iPhone, unpair your Apple Watch. Go to the Apple Watch app on your phone, with your Apple Watch sitting nearby. Go to the My Watch Tab and select your watch. Select the information icon next the watch you want to unpair. Select Unpair Apple Watch. Confirm (you may need to enter your Apple ID again to disable Activation Lock.) Before erasing your watch, your iPhone will create a backup of your Apple Watch, which you can use to restore your Apple Watch if you’re pairing it with a new iPhone.

3. Back up your iPhone

Before you do anything else, make sure you have an up-to-date backup of your iPhone. That way all your data is safe and secure and you’ll be able to easily restore it to your new iPhone when you get it. iCloud automatically makes a backup overnight, as long as you’re plugged in, but a manual backup will make sure you’re absolutely up to date.

  1. 1. Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi. (If you’re low on power, plug in as well.)
  2. 2. Launch Settings from the Home screen.
  3. 3. Tap on iCloud. (iOS 10 and 11, you must click on your name at the top first)
  4. 4. Tap on Backup.
  5. 5. Tap on Back Up Now.



If you prefer to use iTunes, you should also trigger a manual update to make sure you have all of your recent data backed up.

  1. 1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac or Windows PC.
  2. 2. Launch iTunes.
  3. 3. Click on the iPhone icon in the menu bar when it appears.
  4. 4. Click on Back Up Now. (Click on Encrypt Backup and add a password— you want the security.)
  5. 5. Back up Apps, if asked.


4. Erase your personal data

Once your data is safely backed up, it’s important to wipe it from the iPhone you’re selling so your personal photos, files, messages, etc. don’t end up as a surprise bonus for the new owner.

  1. 1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone .
  2. 2. Now tap on General.
  3. 3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Reset.
  4. 4. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.



  1. 5. Tap on Erase iPhone.
  2. 6. Tap on Erase iPhone again to confirm.
  3. 7. Enter your Passcode.
  4. 8. Enter your Apple ID password to turn off Activate Lock and remove the device from Find my iPhone.


5. Clean up the casing

Your iPhone should be clean on the outside as well. Take a few minutes and carefully wipe it down with a damp cloth and making sure all dirt, oil, lint, and even fingerprints are gone from sight. Pay extra attention to the seams and ports.

This is especially true as you’ll need to take photos, and you’ll want it to look as good as it works. Once your iPhone is beautiful and clean, handle it with care, make sure you have good lighting—indirect sunlight is best—and then capture it from every angle. You want to show how your iPhone looks. If there are any scratches or nicks, make sure you photograph those too. An honest sale is the best sale.

6. Collect up the cables and cases

When listing your iPhone, including the Lightning or 30-pin Dock cable, AC Adapter, and even the original box, can give you an edge over other sellers. If you’re upgrading from an older phone and have accessories you’ll no longer be able to use, like iPhone 5 cases, or 4.7-inch cases if you plan to go 5.5-inches next time, you can add those in to sweeten the deal!

Once you have everything, put it all, nicely and cleaning in the box, and set it aside, so it’s all ready to go.

How should I sell my iPhone?

There are several different options for selling your iPhone. Typically the less work you want to do yourself, the lower the final amount you’ll get for it. So, trading in or using a service will be quick and easy, but net you less. Selling directly and on your own will take more work but net you more cash. Figure out what’s more valuable to you—time or money—and then you’ll know what to do.

Apple Products Buy Sell & Trade

If you’re on Facebook, we recommend selling your iPhone and any other Apple devices you may have on your local Apple Products Buy Sell & Trade Group. These are Buy and Sell Groups specifically for Apple and Apple related products. Members of those groups are always looking to purchase a new phone, especially when it’s looked after. This way you can sell in person.

You’ll find more info on the groups, and links to join click here.


eBay can net you more money for your old iPhone but requires you to do a lot of the work and take some of the risk. If you’re comfortable handling your own sales, and have the time to invest, you can get a better return than trade-in services. Just make sure to:

  1. 1. Only ship to the buyer’s confirmed Paypal address if using Paypal.
  2. 2. Price competitively, especially if you’re using Buy It Now as an option.
  3. 3. Take great photos but show any defects so everyone knows what they’re getting.
  4. 4. Take at least one photo showing the iPhone when ON, so everyone can see it works.
  5. 5. Use a fast shipping service and make sure you include that in your item description.
  6. 6. Use keywords in your title and in your item description to attract more potential buyers.
  7. 7. You may also want to consider insuring your item in case anything goes wrong during shipping.
  8. 8. Watch out for low-feedback buyers and also keep in mind that Paypal charges processing fees as well.


Craigslist is like a classified ad in digital form, which can be nice, but it has received alot of negative press, due to scams and unsafe meetings.

Just make sure to:

  1. 1. Never put your personal or home address in an ad. NEVER.
  2. 2. Price your iPhone competitively. Find existing ads on Craigslist in your area for iPhones that are the same model, capacity, and condition as yours and price accordingly.
  3. 3. If you’re comfortable, include a number to call or text. It can increase the likelihood of a quick sale. (If you have a virtual number, use it.)
  4. 4. Meet in a public place, preferably in the daytime. A coffee shop like Starbucks is ideal. Bring a friend with you, just in case.
  5. 5. Watch out for email scams. If someone offers a lot more money to encourage you to ship them your iPhone, they’re just trying to rip you off.


Family member or friends

The same general rules apply. Provided you don’t just want to give it to them free and clear, you can always offer a friends and family discount if you feel like it, but making sure the device is in the best condition possible, and everyone is being treated fairly, is the best way to make sure everyone wins and no one leaves with hard feelings.


Good luck with your sale! The new iPhone will be out soon, so get selling!

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