iPhone and iPad

What You Need To Know About Buying Or Selling A Used iPad Or iPhone

Matt Smith 22-03-2013

selling an iphoneThe iPad and iPhone remain incredibly popular and continue to command a premium over some competing devices. Apple generally doesn’t do sales so, if you want to buy either for less than retail, going used may be your only option.


At the same time, demand for Apple devices keeps re-sale value high. If you’ve purchased an iPad or iPhone and have decided it wasn’t for you, selling the device can recoup a significant amount of the purchase price. Here’s everything you need to know before buying or selling.

Data Can Be Permanently Erased

selling an iphone

Both buyers and sellers may understandably worry about their data. Sellers don’t want strangers to rummage through their personal data, and buyers don’t want to deal with the previous owner’s files.

Fortunately, erasing data is easy. Just open the iPhone or iPad’s Settings app, then tap through General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings. Unless the device is an original iPhone or older iPod Touch, erasing data will only take a few minutes. Nothing previously on the device will be recoverable.

Factory Reset Makes A Phone Like New

Erasing content and settings doesn’t just delete previous data. It also returns the phone to its factory condition. That means the device will perform first-time setup the next time it’s turned on. To a buyer, the device will feel like it just shipped from the factory.


Doing this is a good idea even if you’ve already purchased a used iOS device. By performing first-time setup you’ll be able to tie your own Apple ID to the device and permanently remove the ID previously associated with it. This will prevent any confusion while purchasing apps.

Mind The Lightning Connector

selling an ipad

All versions of the iPhone and iPad are known for their unique data and charging connection, but this connector was recently changed with the iPhone 5 iPhone 5 Review and Giveaway On 21 September 2012, people all over the world queued up for the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone -- the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 is the fastest, largest, thinnest and lightest... Read More and latest iPad. Instead of using the old 30-pin connector the newest devices use a smaller, quicker Lightning connector.

Remembering this is important because it determines the peripherals that can be used. If you are thinking of upgrading from an old iPhone 3G, for example, you may have peripherals designed to work with it. You can continue to use them if you purchased an iPhone 4S, but if you go with the iPhone 5 you’ll need to buy new peripherals or grab a 30-pin to Lightning adapter. And the adapters don’t always work well.

Batteries Wear Out, Everything Else Shouldn’t

selling an ipad

Reliability is always a concern when buying a used device. Thankfully, iPhone and iPad shoppers don’t have much reason for concern. These devices have long received high marks for reliability and customer satisfaction. What’s more, there’s no technical reason why a device can’t last for years. Most components don’t wear significantly over time.


There’s just one important exception – battery life 7 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Battery Life [iPhone, Android, Other Smartphones] By far one of the most disappointing features in just about every smartphone these days is the battery life, which for most of us requires at least one charge per 24-hour period. Are you a... Read More . All batteries wear out over time. The battery in an iPhone or iPad can lose significant capacity within a year of heavy use, but in most cases it will last two or three years before capacity loss is a problem.

Apple will replace iPhone batteries for $79 and iPad batteries for $99. Remember these numbers when making your purchase. You should assume a battery replacement will be required within two years if you’re purchasing an iPhone or iPad that’s already more than two years old.

AppleCare Is Transferable And Can Be Purchased Within One Year

selling an ipad

Buyers and sellers should know that AppleCare programs are transferable from one owner to another. This can be a boon to sellers because it will make your iPhone or iPad stand out from the rest and let you recoup some of the plan’s cost. This transfer can only occur once per plan and Apple must be notified. Section 10 of the AppleCare Terms And Conditions provides details about how the notification should be sent.


Most people think AppleCare can only be purchased at retail, but that’s not true. The plan can be purchased at any point within an Apple product’s one-year limited warranty. You can buy the plan in-store or online.

The plan’s effective period always begins the day the device is purchased. For example, adding AppleCare to a six-month-old iPhone only buys you a year and a half of coverage because AppleCare is always valid for just two years after the date of purchase. There’s no pro-rate, either, so you’ll still pay the full $99.99.

iOS Updates Are Frequent, But Compatibility Has Limits

selling an iphone

One of Apple’s great strengths is control over the iOS update schedule 6 Important Things to Keep in Mind When Doing an iOS Upgrade [iOS] As good as an iOS upgrade can be, some hiccups can come along with it. There are certain things that you should always keep in mind when you are doing an iOS upgrade. It is... Read More . While owners of Android devices wait months or years for updates that may never show up, all iOS devices receive the same updates at the same time.

But even Apple doesn’t maintain support for old devices indefinitely. As new versions of iOS appear, they phase out support for the oldest devices, leaving them stuck with an outdated version of the operating system. This doesn’t occur for four or five years but it inevitably happens to all Apple products.


Wikipedia’s iOS devices page lists what version of iOS old iPhones and iPads are compatible with and is a must-read reference for all buyers. Sellers should read it as well, if only to make sure you can answer questions potential buyers might have.


I think buying a used iPhone or iPad is a good idea. Battery life aside, there’s not much to worry about. The devices can be reset to factory conditions and remain reliable for years after their original date of purchase. These traits also make for an easy sell. A used iOS device will sell quickly and at a much higher price than other phones and tablets.

Are there any other tips you think are important for either buyers or sellers? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: Apple, Buying Tips.

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  1. Moro
    March 31, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Another important thing is to get sure that the device isn't sim locked. You might purchase a device which you are unaible to use with your sim card. Safest way to find out is asking the owner for serial number or imei number of the iphone and call apple. They will tell you if it contains a sim-lock. Some devices might be jailbroken and it works when you try out your simcard but after the next restore the jailbreak is deleted and the iphone is locked. Remember that only the carrier can unlock the device.

  2. VoodooMan
    March 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I am thinking about selling my iPhone, good and timely information.

  3. Kirby
    March 25, 2013 at 3:09 am

    I think it's also important to identify if the device you are buying is not stolen. Otherwise you might earn the ire of the previous owner.

    You should also make sure that all the slots of the device are working properly. The previous owner might be selling the device because of a defect or something.

  4. macwitty
    March 23, 2013 at 8:24 am

    As I buyer I want some proof that I buy it from the owner. At least I want to see the same name on Apple registration, get the original original receipt and maybe check the device number with the police (we have a central place to call and check if it is reported stolen to the police) Then I want to know if it is locked to a "host"