What to do before selling your old iPhone

What to do before selling your old iPhone

Let me guess… after years of use, your iPhone is starting to look a little dull. So, you’ve decided to sell it and upgrade to the newer model. But before selling your old iPhone, it’s wise to carry out a few simple procedures like backing up your data to a secure location and wiping out all existing settings and content.

This is done to ensure nothing is left on your device, and all of your personal data is secure. Follow along as I walk you through the 12 most important things you must do before selling your old iPhone.

  1. Back up with iTunes/Finder
  2. Backup to iCloud
  3. Export contacts to and from iCloud
  4. Delete Photos
  5. Delete apps
  6. Sign out Of iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime
  7. Sign out of iTunes/App Store
  8. Disable all passcodes/Screen Time Passcode
  9. Safari, Mail, Calendars, Reminders
  10. General reset
  11. Unpair your iPhone from your Apple Watch
  12. Deregister iMessage

1. Back up with iTunes/Finder

You know, iCloud backups are fine and dandy, but there’s a data cap. Also, having a real, accessible backup on your local system can go a long way in case things go wrong with an iCloud backup. That’s why I always recommend an iTunes/Finder backup.

Simply fire up iTunes/Finder on your computer. Then, connect your iPhone to your computer → Select your device. Then, click on Back Up Now.

Restore iPhone from iTunes Backup

Note: If you want to save your Health and Activity data from your iOS device and Apple Watch, make sure to encrypt your backup. To do so, check the box labeled Encrypt [device] backup and then enter a memorable password.

After the backup process is completed, you can check out the date and time under the Latest Backup section.

2. Backup to iCloud

While iTunes backups are safe, iCloud backups are helpful when you want a quick and easy way to set up your new iPhone. When you try to restore from an iTunes backup, you need to be connected to the computer with the backup files. With iCloud, you can be anywhere (with Wi-Fi connectivity, of course).

Backing up to iCloud is easy, too.

  1. Open Settings on your device.
  2. Now, tap on your profile icon.
  3. Next, tap iCloud.
  4. Next up, tap iCloud Backup.
  5. Ensure that iCloud Backup switch is ON. Now, hit Back Up Now. Then, wait for some time until your device has been successfully backed up.
Backup iPhone to iCloud Before Selling

Depending on your network speed and the things you’re backing up, it can take anywhere between a few minutes to an hour to backup. The good news is that you can let it run in the background and carry on with your work.

An important thing to remember is that you can pick what data gets backed up to iCloud. This is extremely useful.

3. Export contacts to and from iCloud

Whether you’re switching to a new iPhone or heading to the Android world, it’s always better to secure your address book. And what better way to back up all the contacts than using iCloud sync. You can also export your contacts as vCard.

Open Settings → tap on your profile → iCloud → now, ensure that the switch for Contacts is turned ON.

Backup Contacts using iCloud sync on iPhone

To export your contacts as vCard, head over to icloud.com → sign in using your Apple ID and passwords → Click on the Contacts icon → Click on the tiny cog icon at the bottom left corner and choose Export vCard.

Click on Export vCard in iCloud

4. Delete Photos

I’ll repeat it. A general reset will clear all your photos, but it’s always safer to delete them individually. That way, you are clearing out traces (making it better than what a general reset will do).

Clearing out photos includes clearing out albums. Unfortunately, since the iPhone/iOS doesn’t come with an option to delete multiple photos at once, you’ll have to resort to a little trick to delete them in bulk.

In your album, pinch the screen to zoom out. Now tap Select in the top right (if you don’t see Select, you’ve zoomed out too far and need to zoom back in). Drag your finger across the rows or columns of photos you want to delete.

Tap the trash can icon and watch your photos disappear. Well, to the ‘Recently Deleted’ album.

5. Delete apps

Once you’re done deleting photos (which is some of the most personal stuff you’d have on your old iPhone), you can start clearing out the apps.

Why delete apps when a reset clears them out? Just an extra precaution. Deleting apps will delete most caches associated with these apps. It’ll also delete any traces of login/personal information that the apps might’ve stored on your iPhone. (I’m thinking of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

6. Sign out Of iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime

Another important thing you need to do before you sell your iPhone is sign out of iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime.

Open SettingsYour profile → Tap Sign Out → Enter your Apple ID password and hit Turn OFF in the popup.

Sign Out Of iCloud on iPhone

Head over to SettingsMessagesSend & Receive → tap on your Apple ID → tap Sign Out.

Sign out of iMessage on iPhone

Open SettingsFaceTime → hit Apple ID → tap Sign Out.

Sign out of FaceTime on iPhone

7. Sign out of iTunes/App Store

This is just a routine procedure.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on iTunes & App Store.
  3. Tap on your Apple ID.
  4. Now tap Sign Out.
Sign out from iTunes and App Store on iPhone

8. Disable all passcodes/Screen Time Passcode

A general reset (erase all contents and settings) usually resets everything including passcodes but just to be sure, you might want to manually disable your Screen Time Passcode if you’ve set it.

To disable it, all you need to do is head over to SettingsScreen Time → Tap Change Screen Time Passcode → Tap Turn Off Screen Time Passcode → Enter your passcode to confirm.

Disable Screen Time Passcode on iPhone

9. Safari, Mail, Calendars, Reminders

When you delete your iCloud account, most of the items in Safari, Reminders, Calendars, etc., are gone. Ditto for Mail accounts too. But there could be history leftovers, page caches, or reading list items that you might want to delete off of your old iPhone.

Since these are stock apps, you can’t delete them (and there’s no point in doing that either). So, delete whatever data’s leftover.

iOS offers you an easy way to get rid of all the Safari history and website data. Get it done to ensure your entire browsing data is eliminated.

10. General reset (Erase all content and settings)

By this point, your iPhone already looks like it’s been reset. But remember: you still have Wi-Fi passwords stored, possibly some APN profiles stored, personal information like the iPhone’s name, etc. We’re going to clear them out.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. Confirm and your iPhone will reset, power off and reboot.
Tap on Erase All Content and Settings Under General in Reset on iPhone

11. Unpair your iPhone from your Apple Watch

This is really essential. I highly suggest getting it done before you trade in or give away your device.

The data of your Apple Watch is automatically backed up at the time of unpairing. So, you shouldn’t worry about it. To get it done, head over to this post.

12. Deregister iMessage

Especially when switching to a non-Apple device, you’ll need to deregister iMessage. Else, you might not get SMS/MMS messages on your device. To do so, check out this hands-on guide.

There you go! That’s everything you need to do before you sell your iPhone.

Wrapping Up…

So, these are some of the essential things you must do before giving away your device to anyone (or selling it). Of course, it’s a little time-consuming. However, it’s better to go through the grind in order to keep your precious data as safe as possible.

So, which device are you planning to switch to?

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Author Profile

Marcus is a freelance tech writer/editor with a focus on succinctly explaining consumer devices and their software. His previous work has been published on MakeUseOf where he covered everything from iOS to Git and UI design.

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