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Essential tips for selling your old smartphone

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© nextpit

If you want to give away or sell your old smartphone or tablet, there are some important things you should do first. You don't want to accidentally pass on your personal information to someone else. We’ll explain how to clean up your device so it's good as new before it changes hands, and also suggest some places to donate or sell your device, if you are not sure what to do with your old phone.

No matter who your old phone or tablet goes to, you should always wipe it (inside and out) before giving it to them. The main reason for this is to protect your privacy, but it will also make it easier for them to set it up anew. There are several important things to do when removing your data from your old phone, which are listed below.

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1. Take out the SIM card

The first thing to do when preparing an old phone for a new home is to get your SIM card out. Even if you're getting a new SIM with your new phone, your old one probably has lots of your contacts saved on it, so you don't want to leave it.

You might need a SIM ejection tool to remove the card tray, but if you don't have one, never fear, because we've already shown you how to open the SIM tray without it.

AndroidPIT Nokia 5 013
Take out the SIM card first ./ © NextPit

2. Unmount/remove the memory card

If you have a phone with a microSD card slot, then remove the SD card. Just look for the slot on the edge of your phone or behind the battery cover.

Before you remove the card, copy as many photos, apps, and documents as possible to it, so you can take them with you to your new phone easily.

3. Erase your data

The next thing to do is to wipe your data from the phone itself. There are two simple ways to do this: either go into Settings and look for the backup/restore section, or do it manually with hardware buttons. Make sure you have a full backup of all your data before you take this step!

Also, it is important to ensure you have signed out of your Google account (and Samsung, if applicable) before you wipe your phone. Otherwise, the person who receives your phone may not be able to activate it, since the device will be locked with your password.

The following data is deleted:

  • Google account settings 
  • Settings configuration data and applications
  • Installed apps
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Other user data
  • Linked accounts (Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, etc.)
pixel settings system reset menu screenshot
Settings > System > Reset > Factory data reset. / © NextPit

if you are getting rid of an iOS device, such as an iPhone, then the process is very similar. Again, make sure you have backed up your phone before you do this. Using iCloud is the easiest way.

Head over to your settings menu and follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to General Settings.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom and hit Reset.
  3. At the top, you will see a couple of options. You want the one that says Erase All Content and Settings.
  4. You will then need to tap on Erase iPhone twice to confirm.
  5. Enter your Passcode followed by your Apple ID password to begin the erasing process.
erase iphone
Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. / © NextPit

4. Clean it

Once the insides of the phone are clean, the next thing you should do is clean the outside too. There might not be much you can do about scratches on the screen or general wear and tear, but you can sell it off without grubby fingerprint marks all over the display.

If you want to impress a potential buyer, you could apply a screen protector and replace the battery cover (if there is one).

AndroidPIT Screen cleaning 0049
Clean it! / © NextPit

5. Rebox it

If you're a good Android owner, then you would have kept the box and bits and pieces that came with your old Android phone. Smartphones come with all kinds of goodies: from USB chargers and cables to headphones to SIM tools to spare earbud rubbers. The more of this stuff you can get back in the box (even if it's not the original equipment) the more likely your old phone is to look well looked-after.

androidpit samsung fast charger note 5
Try to round up all the bits that originally came with the phone. / © NextPit

What to do with an old phone?

There are lots of different things you can do with an old phone:

AndroidPIT dead galaxy s6 3076
You can still sell a broken smartphone. / © NextPit

Where to sell an old phone?

If you've decided to sell your phone, there are a few options: if the phone is in good condition (and you still have the box), the best place to sell anything secondhand is eBay. Get some nice pictures, fill in lots of details and upload that old Android or iPhone to the used marketplace. You also have the option of sites such as Swappa, Sell Cell, or Craigslist.

Beyond selling it online, there are also pawn shops, EcoATM, Cash Converters, electronics markets, garage sales, classifieds, and even the big retailers quite often have buy-back or trade-in offers.

The simplest thing to do is sell the phone back to the carrier you bought it from, but not all phones are accepted (especially very old or unpopular ones) and you aren't likely to get top dollar that way.

Let us know if you managed to sell your old phone or what you do with your old phones once you get a new one in the comments.

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David McCourt

David McCourt

David enjoys staying abreast of the latest technology and newest Android apps. Outside of the office, he can be found playing snooker and writing bad 00s indie songs.

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  • pluglesstech 7
    pluglesstech Dec 3, 2020 Link to comment

    Very good selling system by Google. it will boost sell of pixel phone though exchange of any used phone.

  • 3
    Kimberley M. Williams Dec 26, 2019 Link to comment

    While selling your old phone you must follow some important things like you must have to reset your phone to factory settings and also you have to install some trusted data sherdder apps so your deleted personal data won't be able to recover

    Jerry's W.

  • 1
    Chris Klow Dec 24, 2019 Link to comment

    Very well explained. For where to sell cell phones section, You should also include telecom recycle. They buy old and used business phones in bulk and provide a fair amount in return.

  • CJ Brown 29
    CJ Brown Sep 2, 2019 Link to comment

    Other important step(s) :

    When you have a carrier locked device (in this case Sprint) and you are fucked over trying to unlock said device (barely used iPhone 8 Plus with new screen protector / OtterBox + 3,000 mAh battery charger) so that you can sell it (because Sprint won't let you return a device and walk away clean)!


  • marco sarli 39
    marco sarli
    • Admin
    Sep 2, 2019 Link to comment

    The best option is always to trade it in when buying a new phone.

    • Jerry's W. 20
      Jerry's W. Sep 14, 2019 Link to comment

      not true, you will never get that much as if you sold your old phone yourself....

  • 27
    Sorin Jan 30, 2019 Link to comment

    The phone gathers a lot of information that should never be left to anyone. Before selling the phone, it is good to be "ready" for sale through complete cleaning.

  • 16
    Deactivated Account Jun 7, 2018 Link to comment

    whoa whoa WHOASES!!! hold on! you have to sign out of your google (and sometimes samsung) accounts to not trigger FRP after the wipe. the user will not be able to log in. please put that into your guide. it appears the OP hasn't sold a phone in a while. THIS HAS TO BE DONE.

    Jerry's W.Sorin

    • Brittany McGhee 21
      Brittany McGhee Jun 8, 2018 Link to comment

      Hi Matt, Thanks for the tip. We've updated the article to make this clear.

      SorinDeactivated Account

  • 1
    Jay Aug 12, 2017 Link to comment

    What about finger print scanner, and the google account? Are they also completely wiped when doing the factory reset?

    • Jerry's W. 20
      Jerry's W. Jun 8, 2018 Link to comment


  • Albin Foro 30
    Albin Foro Aug 1, 2017 Link to comment

    From Android M onward, users might (or might not) have configured their microSD cards as "adoptable" to expand internal storage, in which case the card is uniquely encrypted and part of the Android system. In that case, important on board data, photos, media, etc. should be exported to a PC hard drive or USB drive before doing anything, because the encrypted microSD is useless for retrieving data when pulled from the phone. The "adoptable storage" microSD can be pulled and reformatted for use elsewhere, or be wiped in a system reset process and sold with the clean phone.

    Jerry's W.SorinDeactivated Account

  • Justin Cantor 2
    Justin Cantor Sep 25, 2016 Link to comment

    REMEMBER TO UNLINK YOUR DEVICE FROM YOUR SAMSUNG ACCOUNT: It's not been mentioned that it's very important to remove your device from your Samsung account before selling. Of you don't the buyer will not be able to set up the device, even if you do a hard button factory reset. They will be asked to enter the email account that the device was set up on and of course you won't have given them that.

    Jerry's W.

    • 1
      Chad Chesser Dec 26, 2016 Link to comment

      Neve had that issue with samsung. Never had a samsung phone, new or used even ask me for my samsung id. Its always been a option I had to go into settings and enter manually

  • Michael Peters 2
    Michael Peters Sep 7, 2016 Link to comment is a much better place to sell a phone than eBay. EBay is full of purchase scammers, fake accounts, and charges quite a bit. Swappa uses PayPal, you can require verified accounts and charges no fees to sellers unless they do a premium listing.

    CJ Brown

  • Ahm AD 5
    Ahm AD Jul 11, 2016 Link to comment

  • John B. 9
    John B. Dec 31, 2015 Link to comment

    Don't they have an app that wipes the entire memory and then writes over the old?

  • 2
    Ong Zun Kai Dec 30, 2015 Link to comment

    Is there a website listing how much second hand phones costs averaging? Dont know how much $$ to sell my Xiaomi phone for !

    • 1
      Sanjiv B Feb 2, 2018 Link to comment

      Yes - you can check They give you a price upfront

  • Viktor Madsen 2
    Viktor Madsen Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Bruge den som kamara overvågning i dit hus

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