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How to securely wipe your phone before you sell it



6 minute read

Selling your phone can be a bit daunting. You’re essentially giving somebody else the chance to own something that you had held close to you for so, so long. Chances are, right now your phone contains all of your messages, photos, and other personal information, and it’s not something you’d like to see get into the hands of a stranger.

I’ve created this guide so that you can ensure all of your data is safe and your phone is completely wiped. I’ve also offered some tips on making sure you get the most money possible for your phone when selling it or trading it in. To make things a bit of a breezier read, I’ve split this article into four sections - the intro, the iOS section, the Android section, and a summary. I’d invite you to take a look at my intro so you can learn more about why it’s important to follow the steps I’ve included. After that, you can read through whichever section is suitable for the device you own. At the end, I’ve included a rundown on the best places to sell your old phone.

Why it’s important to follow these steps before selling your old phone

preparing iPhone for wipe

Firstly, following the steps I’ve outlined is important for your privacy. If you don’t completely wipe your phone and disable cloud backup, you’re potentially putting your photos, files, and data into the hands of a stranger. The thought of your embarrassing night out selfies getting witnessed by a stranger may seem unbearable. But the real worry is potential log-in information or personal details that could put your financial accounts or identification at risk.

If you don’t factory reset your phone and completely remove cloud storage like iCloud, it could remain on there after the reset and that could actually lower the price or make a product unsellable. Whether you sell your phone on an app like Shpock, or go for a more convenient option, like selling your phone through giffgaff, your end price could differ based on the following things:

  • Not reset properly

  • Issues due to not removing Google or iCloud accounts completely

  • Damage to your device like scuffs or small scratches

  • Broken components (Dodgy camera, quiet speaker, etc)

Finally, the last step to consider is that it’s general courtesy to give your phone a quick once over before shipping it away. If somebody is paying for your phone, making sure it is packaged properly and it has had a bit of a clean to remove fingerprints can be a nice way to thank the person that decided to plonk cash in your bank account for something you won’t be using anymore.

Wiping your old Android phone - Step by step guide

Galaxy smartphone

Before we begin the wiping process, take a look through all of your installed apps to ensure there aren’t any important files you might be leaving behind. Some examples include:

  • Your Photo app.
  • Your contacts list.
  • Your text messages.
  • Your saved notes.

After you’ve checked over everything, you should remove your Google accounts from your Android device.

  • Open the Android settings app.
  • Tap ‘Accounts’ or ‘Users & Accounts’.
  • Tap on each account to Remove them one by one.
  • Most importantly, ensure your ‘Google’ accounts are removed.
  • When you remove your final Google account, you’ll be asked for your PIN or password.

It’s now time to factory reset your device. Be warned. Doing this will wipe everything from your device. Only proceed with this step once you are 100% sure you aren’t leaving any important files behind.

  • Open the Android settings app.

  • Go to the ‘system’ option.

  • Tap ‘Advanced’.

  • Tap ‘factory reset’.

  • Enter your PIN or tap to confirm your reset request.

In some cases, the factory reset option may be in a different location, such as a ‘backup and reset’ folder, or a ‘reset options’ folder. It will always be found in the Android settings app, however, and usually somewhere near the bottom.

Finally, make sure you have your box and accessories ready to ship. If you are selling through giffgaff, you won’t need these things. More on that at the end.

Wiping your old iOS phone - Step by step guide

old iOS phone

If you are on iOS, make sure you have everything backed up to iCloud before you go ahead with this step by step process. Take a look through all of your apps to ensure you haven’t forgotten any important files. Here are some examples of apps you should be double checking.

  • Your camera roll

  • iMessage

  • Apple Notes

  • Your contacts

Once you have done a backup, follow the steps below to deactivate your iCloud access on the phone you are selling. It’s very important you do this before you sell your phone.

  • First, unpair your Apple Watch if you currently own one

  • Next, open the settings app

  • After, tap on your name

  • Switch off “Find my iPhone”

  • Scroll down and tap ‘Sign Out’

  • You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password.

  • After entering it, tap ‘Turn Off.’

Before you reset your phone for good, follow the steps below if you are moving to an Android phone to deregister iMessage.

  • Open the Settings app.

  • Tap Messages.

  • Tap to turn iMessage off.

  • Go back to the main settings page.

  • Tap FaceTime.

  • Tap to turn FaceTime off.

Finally, go to Settings, General, Reset, and then tap ‘Erase All Content and Settings’ to fully erase all of your data. Use iTunes on your Mac or PC? Make sure you follow the steps below to deauthorize the phone from your account.

  • Open iTunes on your Mac or PC.

  • Tap “Store” and then tap “View Account”.

  • Enter your Apple ID and password if prompted.

  • Click “Manage Devices” (Under iTunes in the Cloud).

  • Click “Remove” next to the device you are going to sell.

Your iPhone is now ready to sell! But where should you sell it?

Should I sell on eBay or use giffgaff?

It ultimately comes down to how much hassle you are willing to put up with. On the one hand, you may get a better deal if you are lucky enough on eBay, but it’s not guaranteed. On eBay, or other selling sites, you must put up a price and others are allowed to bid on it or suggest a better deal. Sometimes, additional fees are involved too and you have to pay for postage and packaging yourself.

Usually, systems are in place so that you don’t have to send your phone until you get the money, but if your phone recipient is unhappy, they could give you negative feedback or ask eBay to refund the money.

With giffgaff, we’ll give you a handy quote based on the description of your phone. We will then send out a free postage paid envelope and you don’t have to worry about anything else. Once we’ve had a quick check over your phone and you’ve given us payment details, the money will land straight in your bank account. We think it’s a much easier way to do things and it gives you the opportunity to get paid without any risks. Learn more about selling with giffgaff here.

Sell your phone at the giffgaff marketplace using giffgaff5 promo code and get an extra £5 cash.

Written by zerodudex333

Ollie is a big mobile/tech fan. Follow his Twitter and his Instagram travel account