Apple now offers to flagship phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Although prices start at $199, in line with every model since the 3G, the new storage capacity options almost beg users to spend the extra $100 for what amounts to a minimum of four times the built-in storage. The new iPhones can get expensive fast, even if you are out of contract. There are ways to lessen the financial blow associated with upgrading. We’ll help you navigate the best options for how to sell your old iPhone and upgrade to the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 side

You’ve made the decision to upgrade to the iPhone 6, a wise decision for sure. There are a few things you can do with your old iPhone, or any phone for that matter. For one, you can gift it to a family member. The other option is to turn your old iPhone into cold, hard cash. You’ll be happy to know that iPhones as compared to other smartphones, are among the best at retaining value. When you bought your phone, you paid a few hundred dollars. Remember, that’s not the actual cost of the phone, which is much higher. When you paid that price, you signed a 2-year contract with your cellphone provider. That make big bucks over a 2-year period, enough to offset the actual cost of the phone, which they pay Apple.

What’s my old iPhone worth?

There are a number of different ways you can sell your iPhone, which we’ll outline. Regardless of how you sell your phone, the value will be impacted by the overall condition of the phone, its presentation, any included accessories and the original packaging. Put yourself in the role of the buyer for a moment. What would you want from a used phone? If you’re like me, you’d want one that is free of scratches, impeccable condition and comes in the original packaging. Add bonus points if the headphones, Lightning cable and charger are still in the original plastic. But hey, for you, that ship may have sailed. You still have an opportunity to present your old iPhone in its best possible light, which will help you see a greater return. These steps will also help ensure a smooth transaction. There’s nothing worse than buyer’s remorse and dealing with an unhappy buyer.

Sell old iPhone

How to photograph your iPhone for sale

The old saying pictures tell a thousand words. That’s especially true when selling old phones. Your job here is to take the best possible photos of your phone. It should be an accurate depiction, scuffs and scratches included. People don’t want to bid on an auction that has a single stock photo and for good reason. It’s filled with unknowns. The same goes for taking pictures, but not showing every angle of a phone. If your photos look like the next iPhone 7 leak, you’re doing it wrong. Provide potential buyers with a comfort level that comes with good photos.

iPhone 5s

A few simple tips about gadget photography to make your photos stand out from the rest.

  • Nothing beats good, natural light.
  • Avoid direct sunlight. When shooting for the site, I’ll often find an area with trees. It provides ample natural light, but avoids the glare of sunlight.
  • Avoid flash photography.
  • Don’t be afraid to use an iPhone to take pictures of your phone.
  • Take a sample shot, nail it and than repeat the process.
  • Get up close. Macros are a great way to differentiate your photos.
  • Keep shooting. All you need is a handful of good shots.
  • Shoot the phone and all accessories, including the box.

Describe your phone for maximum return

Armed with great photos, you’ll want to marry those to a description of the phone. As the seller, you need to do a good job of selling. If you’re auction or post reads, “iPhone 5s, mint, $550”, that’s not going to inspire people to call you. You aren’t the only one selling off old tech to buy new tech. Be sure to write about the condition of the phone. Have you treated it like a precious jewel, always wrapped in an Otterbox case. Did you install a screen protector on day one? Tell that story. Buyers will respond to that sort of clarity in the description of your product.

Selling your iPhone

What makes your iPhone stand out from the rest. Is it unlocked? Does it come with a case or an extra charger. Whatever added benefits, either software or hardware, be sure to include it.

Where can I sell my iPhone

You can sell your iPhone on an auction site, trade it in or through a private sale. Auction site is code for eBay. It provides for a relative easy way to conduct a transaction online. The listing fees are minimal, but where you can get hit are the final sale fees. Use this handy fee calculator to get a better idea of what’ll cost you to sell your iPhone. If I sold an iPhone 5s for $450, it’s free to list, but I’l have to pay $46 in final value fees. You’ll also need to cover the cost of shipping, if not included, along with insurance. Always ship your phone with insurance, provided its value is an amount you wouldn’t feel comfortable losing. If you’re selling an iPhone 5s, you don’t lose the phone and $450.


To get an idea of the value, fill out this quick form. eBay will say you can get up to a certain dollar amount, based on recent trends. Another auction site is Glyde, which uses a nifty slider to show the market price for a phone and transaction fees. When your item sells, the money gets transferred to your Glyde account 2-3 days after delivery. It’s free to withdraw. With eBay, transactions are usually conducted with PayPal and you can withdraw immediately following payment. It usually takes a day or two at most to hit your bank account.


If the idea of paying almost $50 to eBay coupled with the hassles of shipping don’t appeal to you, the next best method is private sale. You may want the new iPhone 6, but maybe a friend wants a good deal on an old phone. The best way to sell outside your circle of friends, but local, is to list it on Craigslist. There are no trending values on Craigslist. This is a pure private transaction, where two parties agree to a price and meeting place to conduct the exchange.

Craiglist doesn’t charge any fees to list or sell your phone. It’s not without hassles. You can expect calls or emails from people looking to low-ball you. I always find it humorous that people will qualify the low-ball offer by saying it’s cash. Did they think I was going to accept 84 boxes of Girl Scout cookies? An old lawn mover?

Bargain hunters

You can control how people can contact you. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your phone number, you can use email. I personally use Google Voice, which acts as a buffer, allowing me to vet buyers. At some point, a phone call is best to discuss the tenets of the deal. Try to agree on a price before you meet. I’d also recommend building in a few dollars that you’ll take off the asking price. People naturally like to feel as if they got a deal. Let’s say you want $450 for your iPhone 5s. Price it at $485 and discount it when a buyer is interested.

Selling locally

When it comes to the meet-up, find a place that’s comfortable for you. It all depends on what you’re selling. If you’re selling a Mac Pro, that’s not something you can drag to a local Starbucks. A phone, you bet. If the sale doesn’t go as planned, you’re able to get a fresh cup of coffee. Either way, you win. 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.

Selling online

Many sites have dedicated marketplace forums where you can offer items for sale, usually for free. We here at 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.

Looking for maximum return with minimal hassle

If eBay or Craigslist are just too much hassle, you’re not alone. The trade-in industry has exploded over the past few years. There are numerous places where you can trade-in your iPhone for either store credit or cash. Here are the major players in this space, along with current trade-in values, using the 16GB iPhone 5 (AT&T) in excellent condition (no scratches or scuffs) as our standard. This list is presented in no particular order.

Trade in iPhone

Using Apple’s Recycling Program

In addition to these programs, you can also use Apple’s Recycling Program. A different title, but it is effectively the same thing as the others. You can either bring your iPhone to a retail store or use their site to determine the value of your iPhone or any Apple product. Once you get your estimate, you have to ship it to them. Using PowerON, they offer free shipping options. Within a short timeframe, you’ll receive an Apple Store Gift Card which you can redeem at any Apple Store or online.

Apple Store

What to do before selling your iPhone

Before sending out or handing over your iPhone, you should follow these steps to ensure that your information is backed up and secure.

  • Back up your iPhone either to iCloud, iTunes or both.
  • Disable Find My iPhone. Navigate to Settings > iCloud > Toggle Find My iPhone to off > Enter Password to confirm
  • Delete all of your content on your iPhone. Navigate to Settings > General > Erase All Content and Settings

What to do with the SIM card?

If you’re selling your current iPhone before your new phone 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.

Now that you’ve got extra cash, it’s time to decide on which color, how much storage and whether you should buy the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Need help deciding? Drop our iPhone forums and chat with others in the same boat.

When you do sell, be sure to report back and let us know how you did.