Are you gearing up to get the new iPhone 4 that will be available starting June 24 and planning on selling your old iPhone to clear the way for it? That’s a great idea to help raise some funds for your next iPhone, but where can you sell that old iPhone? And how do you prepare it for its new owner while ensuring that none of your personal data is still on it? We’ve got some tips for you on how to sell your iPhone quickly and safely so you can get that shiny new iPhone 4 in your hands, perhaps with even a little extra cash to spare in your pocket.
Preparing your iPhone
Your iPhone can have a lot of your personal data on it, including the contact information for all of your friends and family all the way to your bank account numbers stored in password keeper apps. And you’ve probably read at least one horror story about hacked Facebook accounts being used to solicit money from friends or other dastardly deeds, so you have even more incentive to make sure your private information doesn’t get out there. When you sell your iPhone, you can take steps to ensure that all of your personal information is completely erased from the device. The easiest way to do this is to use the Restore function in iTunes – you can find this button in the Summary pane for your iPhone when it’s connected to your computer.
According to Apple, restoring your iPhone will remove all of the data from it – this is the warning you’ll see when you go to do it:
If you’re not near your computer, there’s an option on the iPhone itself to remove all of its data. We don’t recommend this unless you’ve recently synchronized your iPhone with your computer and have a back-up of all your data on it, but in a pinch you can go to Settings/General/Reset where you’ll see this menu:
Choosing Erase All Content and Settings will do just what it sounds like. Note that it can take a while – up to a couple of hours, so be patient and make sure your iPhone is fully charged or plugged in so the process isn’t interrupted by the battery dying.
This Apple support article talks more about the Erase All Content and Settings feature and how it works. On older iDevices, this command actually overwrites existing data so it can’t be read. On new devices, the encryption keys are simply removed, which takes less time.
If you’re really worried about your data getting into the wrong hands when you get rid of your iPhone, we’d recommend restoring it through iTunes first and then using the Erase All Content and Settings command. This 2-step approach should thoroughly wipe your iPhone clean of all of your data and then some.
What to do with the SIM card?
The iPhone 4 takes only a Micro SIM card and SIM cards from previous iPhone models are too big and will not work in it without significant modification (which could render the card inoperable, so do this at your own risk). Once you activate your iPhone 4 with your current cell phone number and account, your old SIM card will be de-activated by your carrier and can simply be thrown away. If you’re selling your current iPhone before your iPhone 4 arrives, keep your SIM card. This will allow you to put into another GSM phone to use until you receive your new iPhone, or at the very least will prevent the new owner of your old iPhone from using your number and cell phone account.
Where to sell your iPhone
When it comes to selling your iPhone, you have many choices. We recommend you choose the best option for you based on your comfort level balanced with where you feel you can get the most money for your iPhone.
Of course, you can go totally old-school and put a classified ad in the For Sale section of your local paper. This won’t be free and the price of the ad will increase the longer you make it. While this probably won’t catch the eye of those most likely to be looking to buy an iPhone, it’s still a viable option to try if this is the method you prefer.
If Craigslist is available in your area, this is another option and is probably the best way to get word out about your iPhone for sale in your local area for free. Craigslist allows you to post for sale ads at no charge and they last for seven days. Unfortunately, Craigslist transactions have been in the news when thieves use the service to meet up with sellers of valuable items and rob them. Using Craigslist can be safe if you’re careful and here are few safety tips:
- Never put your home address in your ad.
- Unless you’re comfortable with everyone in the world seeing your phone number, don’t put your phone number in your ad and let the email anonymizing service Craigslist provides hide your email address as well.
- Only meet potential buyers in public places with lots of traffic, preferably during daylight hours if at all possible. Places like a busy coffee shop or even your local public library could be good places to meet. Thieves are less likely to try robbery when lots of witnesses are around.
- Don’t fall for the shipping scams. You’ll likely get lots of requests asking you to ship your iPhone to the potential buyer while he/she pays you through an obscure escrow service, or they’ll offer to pay you more than you’re asking if you ship the iPhone before receiving payment. These are all scams! Ignore all of these requests and only work with people who are willing to meet you locally in a public place.
Many sites have dedicated marketplace forums where you can offer items for sale, usually for free. We here at everythingiCafe.com have our own Marketplace forum where members are welcome to post their iPhones up for sale – we encourage you to try it!
eBay is another site through which you can sell your iPhone online. If you’re not familiar with eBay, it’s an online auction site where anyone just about anywhere in the world can bid on or buy outright nearly any item you can think of. You must be a member to put items up for sale and to bid on and buy items and joining is free. Members leave feedback for each other on each transaction and you can see a member’s feedback history to help you evaluate whether or not they’re trustworthy enough to deal with. Despite this feedback system and other policies the company has in place, it’s still very easy to get scammed on eBay. Here are a few tips for you as a seller to help you avoid getting scammed (our forum members have a great thread with many more eBay selling tips here):
- Only accept PayPal as a payment method if you plan to ship your iPhone to the buyer. Also, only ship to the buyer’s Confirmed PayPal address (or the equivalent in the buyer’s country – PayPal does not offer address confirmation in all locations yet) – if you don’t do this, you will not be covered under PayPal’s Seller Protection policies.
- Be sure to insure your iPhone with whatever shipping company you end up using. This will protect you in case your iPhone is lost or damaged on the way to its new owner. Otherwise, you may need to end up refunding the buyer if it doesn’t reach them, and you’ll have no iPhone to sell anymore.
- If you offer local pick-up as an option, heed our tips about where to meet your buyer mentioned in the Selling Locally section above.
- Be sure to specify the requirements for any buyers – eBay will let you automatically block out bidders who have too much negative feedback or non-payment complaints.
- Monitor your auction regularly to cancel bids by those who may somehow slip through the automatic filters that you can have eBay apply to bidders.
- For best results and more bids, be sure to provide a thorough description of your iPhone, detailing its condition and any included accessories, and add lots of pictures so that buyers can easily see what they’re bidding on. Buyers will be more likely to bid on your auction if they have enough information to fully understand what they’re buying.
- Set your auction to end at a time when potential buyer’s in the time zone(s) you’re targeting are most likely to bid on your iPhone. If you will ship only to buyers in the U.S., this usually means you should try to have your auction end in the evening after work for most people across all of the time zones here (anywhere from 7:00 p.m. ET to 10:00 p.m. ET). If you are shipping to other countries and expect your buyer to be in Europe or Asia, time the end of your your auction accordingly. Also, Sunday evenings are surprisingly a good day on which to end an auction – many people are home relaxing and browsing the internet before getting into a busy work week.
Note that eBay charges you fees based on your auction listing and the final value of your iPhone when the auction ends. Plus, PayPal also charges fees for the payment you’ll receive from your buyer (and even more if PayPal must convert the payment from another currency). These fees could easily total $50 or more, so consider this as you think about using eBay compared to other selling methods.
There are companies that will buy your iPhone from you outright with no haggling and no need to wait for an auction to end or deal with strangers on the internet. Gazelle is one such service – all you need to do is enter the details about your iPhone on their site and they’ll let you know how much they’ll pay you for your iPhone. If you like what they’re offering, you can accept the offer and they will send you a postage-paid box for you to send your iPhone to them. They’ll then evaluate it to ensure it matches the description you provided and then pay you accordingly.
Radio Shack, an electronics chain store, accepts trade-ins for working electronics items, including the iPhone. Right now, Radio Shack is offering up to $200 (in the form of a Radio Shack gift card only) for iPhones and if you want to take them up on their offer, you sign up for the program and they’ll send you a postage-paid box to ship your iPhone to them. Like Gazelle, they’ll evaluate your iPhone to ensure it matches the description you gave and you’ll get paid in the form of a Radio Shack gift card. While you’ll most likely be able to get more money selling your iPhone on eBay or even Craigslist, this is an easy no-hassle method to sell your iPhone and you can use the gift card you receive to buy the iPhone 4 from Radio Shack.
There you have it! As you can see, there are lots of ways you can sell your iPhone to raise funds for the iPhone 4 or any other shiny object you have your eye on. While it can be tricky, you’ll be more likely to come out with a fair bit of cash in hand thanks to the tips in this guide. If you have any other selling ideas or tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!