Sell your old iPhone safely by following these steps

With a new iPhone now only days away, many are looking to sell, give away, or trade-in their old iPhones. But how do you do this safely?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

It's coming to that time of year when Apple releases a new iPhone, and this is also the time when many who are planning an upgrade are also considering selling, giving away, or trading in their old iPhone.

But how do you get all the data off your iPhone and then wipe it safely before giving it to someone else?

Here's how.

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First off, I recommend that people who want to switch wait until they have the new iPhone in hand. While it's possible to backup to iCloud and restore a new iPhone from that backup, I've seen people have problems that can culminate in data loss. Also, I find it quicker, easier, and safer to do the transfer of data from old iPhone to new iPhone using Apple's Quick Start tool.

How does Quick Start work? You basically turn on the new iPhone, place it next to the old one, and they detect one another and kick off the migration process.

Note that Quick Start requires iOS 12.4 or later.

OK, so now you're ready to wipe your old iPhone.


Before you start, it's worth bearing in mind that when you wipe an iPhone, your data is gone, except for any backups you might have. If you wipe too soon, there's no point asking Apple for help. No point asking me for help.

Your data is gone and you're on your own.

Another thing to keep in mind before you start is that if your phone number is going to change, you'll need to add your new number as a trusted number to your Apple account so you don't get locked out.

Don't forget this bit!

OK, you're ready to delete your data.

Start by unpairing your Apple Watch -- open up the Watch App, tap the i button next to the Apple Watch you want to unpair, and scroll down to tap on Unpair Apple Watch. The steps you go through depend on whether you have an Apple Watch that has cellular data or not.

Note that from this point onwards, the steps also apply to the iPad and iPod touch.

Next, backup. It's best to do this now after unpairing the Apple Watch. You can backup to iCloud, a Mac, or a PC.

Or do more than one backup to be on the safe side.

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Next up, you need to sign out of iCloud, iTunes, and the App Store. This is a single-step process and you do it by going into Settings and tapping on your name at the top; then at the bottom, you'll see Sign Out.

Tap on that, enter your Apple ID, and then tap Turn Off.

You've not wiped any data yet, so if you have a last-minute change of heart, you can still back out.

If you're ready to continue, here's what you do:

Go to Settings > General > Reset and tap Erase All Content and Settings

Here you may also get a last-minute prompt to make an iCloud backup if there are any items on your iPhone that have not been updated. 

You have been warned!

If you have "Find My" enabled (and you really should), you'll need your Apple ID and password to continue. eSIM users will need to confirm that they want the eSIM profile wiped.

Also, this is your final opportunity to back out.

If you want to proceed, enter your passcode and tap Erase iPhone (for the iPad this will read Erase iPad, and for the iPod touch it will read Erase iPod touch).

That's it.


Your data is gone and your iPhone is ready for a new home.

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