Don’t fancy an expensive contract to get your hands on a new iPhone? Then why not sell your old model to sweeten the deal? Even if you’ve already taken the plunge and bought the newest model, you might be surprised just how much money you can get for your old device.
Just like old Mac computers, Apple’s smartphones also hold their resale value. It could be because they’re desirable, because they cost so much money in the first place, or because they tend to go on and on and on — and it’s great news if you’re sitting on an old model (even if it doesn’t work).
Here’s how to sell your iPhone, who will buy it, and a few things to keep in mind.
Preparing an iPhone for Sale
Before you delete everything, check with your carrier to see if your iPhone is unlocked. If it isn’t, and you intend to sell to a second-hand buyer, you could get more money for an unlocked device. Check with your carrier on how to unlock your iPhone if it isn’t already — it might not cost you a thing and could increase the market value.
There are a few things you absolutely need to do before you sell your iPhone, especially if you’re still using it (or have been until recently). If you haven’t already, you should back up your iPhone locally by plugging it into a Mac or Windows computer running iTunes, clicking on it, and choosing Back Up Now on the Summary tab. You should also back up your apps when prompted and transfer purchases under File > Devices too.
Next head to Settings > iCloud and disable Find my iPhone. You’ll have to input your Apple ID password to do this, which disables a feature called Activation Lock that protects your device against theft. Once that’s done, you can head to Settings > General, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and choose Erase All Content and Settings. Your iPhone will now be wiped to an as-new state.
Last of all, don’t forget to take your SIM card out. If you don’t have the original SIM tool that came with your iPhone, a thin paperclip, pin, or an earring will get the job done. You’ll find your SIM card release on the right-edge of the phone.
Clean It Up
If you intend to sell your phone secondhand, cleaning it up is a must. You’ll get more interest in an online auction, better pictures, and leave a better impression on any potential buyers.
Take the device out of its case and wipe it with a soft damp cloth (water is fine, no need for any cleaning products). Get as much screen grease off as possible, clean the ports gently, make sure the ringer toggle switch is nice and clean, and wipe down the camera lens and flash.
It’s a good idea to find the original box if you still have it and bundle your original accessories in there (charging cable, white earphones). If you don’t have the original accessories, consider spending a small amount on supplying something — your listing will likely appeal to more potential buyers, and possibly push the price up as a result.
If the screen has sustained damage, you might want to consider the cost of replacing it. A new screen might be cost-effective if the device is old and you’re able to do the work yourself. Otherwise, you might want to consider the trade-in or recycle cost.
What’s It Worth?
The price you’ll get for your old iPhone depends on a few factors, but the biggest is the route of sale you decide to go down. There are companies who will buy your iPhone off you, right now, for the price you see on screen — all you need to do is send it to them and wait for payday. This is a great way to guarantee a fast turnaround, but it’s often less financially rewarding than selling to a secondhand buyer.
If you do decide to sell the iPhone yourself, you should be able to get “market price” for it. This is the current sum of money someone is willing to hand over for an iPhone of your age, in its current condition, with factors like original box and included accessories also taken into account. You can get a good idea of this using eBay’s advanced search tool: enter a search term and check Completed Listings to see what other items have sold for (prices marked in green).
Damage will also be a major factor. The vast majority of buyers want a device in good condition, so if you have a smashed screen, broken Home button, or a dodgy charger port. You’re probably better off selling your iPhone directly to a company that intends to refurbish or recycle it instead.
Sell It Instantly
If you’re planning to buy another iPhone (or a new Mac or iPad), then it might make sense to trade your device in with Apple’s own Reuse and Recycling Program. The Trade Up scheme operates in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and other territories via the web and in Apple’s retail locations. You can either get a quote online or take your device to an Apple Store to have it evaluated.
Depending on the condition of your iPhone, Apple will credit you with an Apple Store gift card (up to $250 in the U.S. for an iPhone 6s), which you can put toward your next purchase. For older and non-functioning devices, it’s not a bad option, but if your device is new and working fine, then you might get a better price by selling directly to a buyer.
Apple isn’t the only company doing this, and it pays to shop around to see what other companies will offer you. Amazon has a similar trade-in scheme for store credit, which is handy if you don’t want to be locked-in to the Apple Store. Many other companies will send you a check in the mail like Gazelle, NextWorth, uSell, Swappa, and Glyde. Just like Apple, these companies are unlikely to pay the same amount as a genuine second hand buyer.
Sell It on eBay
eBay is one of the world’s busiest online marketplaces, and it’s full of potential buyers for your unwanted stuff. There are other auction sites of course, but your choice may be limited depending on where you live, so eBay is always good option.
We’ve already produced a guide to successfully selling anything on eBay, so be sure to check that out to get the best possible price and ensure a smooth transaction. It helps that eBay already makes it pretty easy to ascertain your old iPhone’s value when you feed it some information, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Take good photos of your device, ensuring that you show any scratches or other damage clearly. You should accompany these images with a detailed description of your device, including the condition, the exact model, storage capacity, and any accessories or warranty included in the purchase. Consider a reasonable Buy it Now price if you want a quick sale, and don’t set a reserve price that’s too high.
Despite the steep fees, PayPal offers a good amount of protection to both parties, so consider using that when it comes to accepting payment. You’ll also want to package the item well so that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.
Sell It in Person
If you’d rather sell your old device for cold hard cash, selling in person is a good option that comes with a few added risks. Whether you’re using Craigslist, Gumtree, a local forum, Facebook or something else, there’s an always an element of risk involved in meeting a potential buyer face-to-face.
We’ve covered all of this in our guide to selling safely on Craigslist, so check it out if you’re considering this option.
As you’re selling a potentially high value item and dealing with cash, you should meet in a public place with lots of people present. Avoid low ball offers by advertising slightly higher than your asking price, and make sure you actually charge the device so that the buyer can see that it still works and it’s not stolen!
Sell Everything Else Too
Got an old iPad you want to sell? Maybe you’re getting rid of an old Android phone? The internet is awash with opportunity to recover some of your initial expenditure. You can also try to time your purchases right to get more bang for your buck, or save a few bucks by opting for a refurbished laptop.
Have you sold or bought an iPhone secondhand? Would you do it again?