How to Prepare an iPhone for Sale

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One of the best uses for an old iPhone is to sell it, but with most of our lives stored on these mobile devices, giving them to someone you don’t know can be a little scary.

Simply removing your apps and email accounts isn’t enough to make sure you’re good to sell. There could still be saved login information, restore information, and personal items like saved credit card info hiding throughout the device. Check out the steps below to prepare your iPhone for sale and be safe while getting rid of electronic clutter in your house.

1. Back Up

First things first, you need to make sure you have a backup of the iPhone or iPad before you do anything else. If at all possible, make sure it’s backed up to your computer instead of iCloud. To check where your device is backing up to tap on Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup and scroll to the bottom.

backup iphone before sale

Here, you’ll see a toggle that says iCloud Backup. If it’s turned OFF then backups are saved to your computer. If this is turned on for your device, turn it off and do a computer backup. This will allow you to use iCloud for other backups in the future.

Next, verify all your images are backed up to iCloud or Dropbox and that your contacts and all other data are syncing with iCloud or whatever other service you use.

2. Remove Accounts

After you’re all backed up and you’re 100% sure you’re good, it’s time to start turning things off. First off you need to look at your email and contacts accounts by tapping on Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and tap on each account shown one by one and scroll to the bottom and tap Delete Account. Tap Delete from My iPhone to complete the process.

iphone for sale

Do this for every account you have listed until none are left.

3. Unlock the Phone

Before you erase your phone you might as well unlock it for the next person. Many carriers allow for carrier-approved unlocking of your device once your contract is up, which means the next person can use it on a variety of carriers around the country and sometimes the world.

Just call your carrier and inquire about carrier unlock to see if your account and device are eligible. This needs to be done with the SIM card in place and the phone still able to be used, so do it before erasing any content. Restoring the device will not affect it’s unlocked status. This can actually help increase the value of your iPhone for sale and open it up to a wider audience if you’re selling on a site like eBay.

4. Erase All Content

Once you have your entire accounts list deleted, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Tap on Settings > General and scroll to the bottom and tap on Reset. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings then tap Erase iPhone to complete the process.

sell iphone erase content

Your iPhone or iPad will now go through the restore process, erasing all content. Once it’s complete you’ll be asked to set up the newly wiped iPhone. You could give your phone away at this point, but there’s a few more steps to make 100% sure you’re safe.

5. Restore and Update

Set the device up as a new iPhone or iPad but this time don’t use your Apple ID. Once the device is on your home screen, plug it into your computer. Instead of syncing apps and content to it, click on the device in the iTunes sidebar and then click Restore iPad/iPhone. You may have to turn off Find my iPhone to complete this step.


Restore the device but this time don’t set it up. Leave it on the welcome screen, as the person receiving the device will want to set it up as their own.

6. Remove From Your Apple Account

Once the device is ready, it’s time to un-link it from your Apple account. Log in to Apple’s site here and click on the item you want to remove.


On the page that comes up, click the Unregister button to remove it from your account. This is important, as without clearing this your iPad or iPhone is still technically linked to your account, no matter how many times you erase it.

7. Kill the SIM Card

The last step to get the device ready to be sold is to remove the SIM card. These little cards can only be used once, so once you move to a new device it becomes pretty much useless.


The person your old iPhone or iPad is going to can get a new SIM card for free from their carrier, all they have to do is call or stop in a carrier store to pick one up. Cut your SIM card up and pitch it, as it’s useless to you now, too. To get the SIM card out you need the removal tool that came with your device. If you don’t have it any more, stop in an Apple store or carrier store and ask them to remove it for you.

8. Cleaning Up

Once all this is complete, give the device a good cleaning and remove all your fingerprints and marks. Follow these instructions from Apple on cleaning their devices to make sure you don’t hurt it while you’re trying to make it look better. Make your device the best looking iPhone for sale and you’ll be more likely to get it sold quickly.

Related: How to clean your laptop screen

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

2 thoughts on “How to Prepare an iPhone for Sale

    1. I don’t, but that would be a pretty good idea for a post. I’ll do that one soon. Thanks for the idea!

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