How to Erase Your Data and Sell Your Old iPhone

When it comes to selling your old iPhone, you’ll want to make sure to erase your data first. Then you need to choose the most convenient way to sell it to get the best price.

The best iPhone on the market becomes an afterthought for many as soon as the latest and greatest model is announced each year. There are plenty of sites more than willing to buy your used handset. Here are some of the better places to consider and why you should do it before making a sale.

Before Selling

Before handing off your phone to someone else, there are a few things you should do first. These include unlocking your device, then removing your personal information.

Unlocking Your Phone

Mobile phones are locked or unlocked, depending on the carrier and its policies. AT&T, for example, locks phones sold through any of its monthly installment plans, while companies like Verizon do not. Unlocked phones are worth more money since they’re usable across different carriers from a buyer’s standpoint.

Preferably, you should unlock your phone before selling it. For some companies, this means paying off the handset. Be sure to check with your carrier to understand the process.

Backup and Delete

Your iPhone knows a lot about you. To protect yourself from wandering eyes, make sure to wipe the device before selling it. This process involves backing up the device first, then erasing your data.

Ideally, you should already be backing up your device nightly through iCloud. Still, do it one last time before resetting the device.

  1. Tap on the Settings app on the iPhone.
  2. Select iCloud.
  3. Choose iCloud Backup.
  4. Tap Back Up Now.

Make sure to complete the backup process before moving forward.

iPhone Backup

Next, it’s time to delete your data from the iPhone.

  1. Tap the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll, then select Reset.
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. Choose Erase Phone twice, if prompted.

Your iPhone is now being reset to factory settings. Once completing the process, your iPhone is ready to sell (or regift to someone).

iPhone erase all content

Where to Sell Your iPhone

We recommend sticking with companies like Gazelle, Swappa, eBay, Amazon, and, yes, Apple to sell your iPhone. These companies will typically offer the most for your handset, although it varies, depending on your model. Craigslist is another option, although there are key points to keep in mind before going that route.

Not surprisingly, the newer your iPhone, the more it’s worth. Also, the larger the storage, the more you’ll receive for your device. Then there’s the question of condition. Before quoting a price, most online buyers will ask some combination of the following questions:

  • Does the device turn on?
  • Is the screen cracked?
  • Are there scratches anywhere on the device?
  • Is your device fully functional?

Once you receive and accept a quote, there are different procedures for each company.


With Gazelle, you’ll receive payment once your item is inspected and accepted. The quotes are good for 30 days and take into account Gazelle’s fees. Therefore, if you’re quoted $450, that’s what you’ll receive. You can accept payment through PayPal, an gift card (which gives you an extra 3 percent), or a check. Gazelle provides free shipping labels with sales.

If Gazelle believes your device doesn’t match the condition as described, it will give you a revised offer. From there, you can accept or decline the offer within five days. If you refuse, your device is returned, and you must pay for the shipping.

Because of Gazelle’s 30-day price lock, you don’t have to worry about iPhone price fluctuations which do occur, especially immediately before and after new iPhone introductions.



Unlike Gazelle, Swappa attempts to match buyers and sellers. In doing so, you’ll likely get more for your device than you would through Gazelle. Under this scenario, however, you don’t receive a quote. Instead, you must list your item on the Swappa website. Before doing so, Swappa suggests a price that’s based on current market conditions. Fees are paid by the buyer, which makes this an excellent solution for would-be sellers.

Unfortunately, you can’t sell financed iPhones through Swappa. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure the phone is paid off before attempting to list it on the service.

To use Swappa, you must have an active PayPal account, and you’ll also need to submit photos of your device before the listing gets approved. Once it does, you pay nothing for the listing. Plus, payment is received before you ship.



In recent years, eBay has made it easier to sell used mobile devices through its website. However, it does come with some drawbacks. For one, any transaction ultimately comes down to a sale between you and a buyer, with eBay merely the conduit. Second, there’s some risk of selling by yourself.

Because of this, be sure to only ship to the buyer’s confirmed PayPal address, so you’re protected. Additionally, price your item competitively, so you get a good deal. Finally, beware of the processing fees PayPal and eBay charge.



Like Gazelle, Amazon makes it simple to sell your iPhone. In this case, you answer a few questions online about your handset. From there, Amazon makes an offer, which you can accept on the spot. You’ll receive your money in the form of a digital Amazon gift card once your handset is accepted. If Amazon finds the handset isn’t in the condition as promised, you’ll have the opportunity to accept the new price or have the item returned to you for the cost of shipping.

Amazon is somewhat aggressive when it comes to quoting a price on Apple devices. If you don’t mind receiving an Amazon gift card in place of cash, this could be your best option.



The mothership makes it very convenient to trade in old devices both online and in its many retail stores. In exchange, you can receive credit for a new phone or an Apple Store gift card. If you decide to sell through the Apple website, you’ll receive a trade-in kit in the mail, which you can use to send in your iPhone. Requiring this kit slows down the process somewhat, which makes selling your device in-store perhaps a better option. Regardless, Apple’s trade-in prices are similar to what you’d expect to receive from companies like Amazon and Gazelle.



If you want to make quick cash, your best bet could be Craiglist, which will allow you to meet your would-be buyer locally and in person. If this is your plan, be sure to price your phone competitively. For your protection, don’t mention your name or address in your Craigslist ad. To make a quick connection, put your phone number in the ad. Once you and the seller agree on a price, decide on a safe place to meet, preferably during the day. A public location is undoubtedly the best, of course. Bring a friend. Finally, only accept cash.

Bottom Line

Choosing an option to sell your old iPhone comes down to convenience and price. If you’re looking for an immediate online sale, you should consider Apple, Amazon, or Gazelle. If you want to make more money and don’t care about putting in the time to post your item for sale, try eBay or Swappa. Thinking cash-only? Then, Craigslist is an option. Whatever you do, shop around and see where you can get the best price for your phone.

Happy selling, and enjoy your new iPhone!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Steve Krause

    September 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Pretty timely given the new iPhone 11…. ;)–TU

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