The iPhone has one of the best resale values of any smartphone. You’ll get more money if you sell it yourself and skip the trade-in. Here’s how to prepare your iPhone, pick a price, and make the sale.
Before You Start, Create a Backup
If you’re selling your old iPhone to buy a new one (rather than switching to an Android device), the first thing you should do is create a backup. This allows you to transfer the backup to your new device, along with all your personal data, apps, and other information.
The best way to create a backup of your iPhone is by using iTunes on a Mac or PC. You can also create backups using iCloud, but these can take a long time to complete if you aren’t already doing so, and the restore process takes a lot longer, too. iCloud backups are limited by the speed of your internet, so the backup and restore procedure can take hours or even days.
Windows users can download iTunes from Apple’s website.
- Launch iTunes and connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC using a Lightning cable.
- Wait for the device icon to appear in the top-left corner (screenshot below), and then click it and select your iPhone.
- On the Summary tab, click “Back Up Now” and wait for the backup process to complete.
Check “Encrypt iPhone Backup” to save sensitive data, like passwords, Wi-Fi network credentials, Health data, and HomeKit data. You’ll need to create a password to do this. You’ll also need this password to restore the backup to your new iPhone at a later date. We recommend using a password manager to save it for you.
When you’re ready to restore this backup to your new iPhone:
- Turn on your new iPhone and follow the setup procedure to activate the device.
- When prompted, choose “Restore from iTunes Backup,” and connect your iPhone to the same Mac or PC you used to back up your old iPhone.
- Click on the device icon in the top-left corner, and then choose your new iPhone.
- On the Summary tab, click “Restore Backup,” and then choose the backup you made previously. Type your password if you chose to encrypt your backup, and then wait for the process to complete.
Create an iCloud Backup
If you’re backing up your iPhone to the cloud, you can always restore it from iCloud instead, when prompted. However, restoring from iCloud takes much longer than restoring from a Mac or PC, so we recommend doing it locally.
If you still want to back up with iCloud:
- Launch Settings, and then tap your name at the top of the list.
- Scroll down, find your device (it will be labeled, “This iPhone”), and tap it.
- Tap “iCloud Backup,” toggle it on, and then tap “Back Up Now.”
Wait for the backup to complete. This could take a long time (possibly days) depending on your internet connection. You might also need to purchase additional iCloud storage, as you only get 5 GB for free. You can restore this backup by selecting “Restore from iCloud” when setting up your new device.
Switching to Android?
If you’re switching to Android, you won’t be able to restore an iTunes backup to your new device. iTunes is only for use with Apple devices, and Android is an entirely different operating system. Fortunately, you can still transfer much of your data to your new device.
First, download Google Drive on your old iPhone. Launch the app and sign in with (or create) a Google Account. From here, tap the menu icon, and then choose Settings > Backup. Review your settings, and then tap “Start Backup” to begin the process. Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi, and your device is plugged into a power source.
Sign in to your Google account on your new Android device, and your data should automatically download. For more information, check out the Switch to Android homepage. Remember, not all devices behave in the same manner. Third-party data, like notes stored in Evernote or your Spotify library, is stored in the cloud and should download automatically once you sign in to the service.
Before you kiss your iPhone goodbye, make a note of any apps and services you use. The quickest way to do this is to take multiple screenshots of your home screen and app folders. You can then use this as a reference for what to download when you get your new device. You can learn more tips and tricks about making the switch to Android here.
Get Your iPhone Resale Ready
The last thing you want to do is sell or trade-in your iPhone with all your data on it. If you’re showing the phone to a potential buyer, you want it to be in “like new” condition. If someone tests the device before buying (and you should be prepared to let them do so), it should be in the same state it was when you received it.
To make it that way, you need to restore the phone to factory settings. Before doing this, disable Find My iPhone because, while it’s enabled, Activation Lock is, too. Activation Lock ties your device to your Apple ID, which means anyone who gets their hands on your old iPhone won’t be able to activate it or use it without entering your Apple ID password.
To disable Find My iPhone and Activation Lock:
- Launch “Settings” and tap your name at the top of the list.
- Scroll down to your device—it will say the model of iPhone, followed by “This iPhone.” Tap it.
- Tap “Find My iPhone,” and then tap to toggle this feature off.
- Type your password when requested.
Now, you can reset your device to factory settings. This will delete everything on your iPhone and restore it to “as new” condition. So, only do this when you’re sure there’s nothing else you need to recover from the iPhone:
- Go to Settings > General.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and tap “Reset.”
- Tap “Erase All Content and Settings,” and then tap “Erase Now.”
- Acknowledge any last warnings, and then wipe your iPhone clean.
The screen will go black, and the Apple logo will be displayed while your iPhone is erased. Once it restarts, you should see a white screen that says, “Welcome,” inviting you to set the iPhone up as a new device.
Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button (iPhone 8 or earlier) or hold the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons (iPhone X or later) to turn off the iPhone.
How Much Is Your Old iPhone Worth?
Before you can sell your iPhone, you need to find out how much it’s worth. The value depends on whether you sell your iPhone directly or trade it in. To get some numbers, you can use a few services.
One of the best tools for the job is eBay. By searching for sold items, you can get a realistic idea of how much people are willing to spend based on the final auction price. To do this, head to eBay’s Advanced Search tool. Use descriptive keywords, like “iPhone X 64 GB,” in the main search field. Under “Search Including,” make sure you check “Sold Listings,” and for second-hand sales, select “Used ” under “Condition.” You might want to check the “Located in” box and specify your region, too.
Now, when you run your search, you see a list of completed auctions in which the item was sold. These are the prices other eBay users are prepared to pay for the item. If you find a few auctions that match your device model, capacity, and condition, you’ll get an idea of the price you can expect to get.
There are other services where you can sell used items, but these are often speculative. Some you might want to check out include: Gazelle, Swappa, and Decluttr. These websites are ideal if you’re going to sell your phone immediately at a predefined price. Because these services do a lot of the work for you, though, you lose a portion of the resale value.
Gazelle lets you sell your phone for a set price once you provide a few details, like the model and its condition. You then ship your phone to Gazelle, after which they check it over and then pay you. At the time of this writing, Gazelle offered us $416 for a 64 GB iPhone X in good condition with no scratches. For comparison, the same model can fetch over $600 on eBay.
Should You Trade-in or Sell Your iPhone?
You’ll get more money for your old phone if you sell it rather than trading it in. You can sell it on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, or any of the aforementioned services. By selling directly to a buyer, you’ll get the market rate, minus any fees.
For the best results, be sure to exhibit your item well. Fully describe any scratches, dents, or other flaws in the item description. Let any potential sellers know how long you’ve had the device and why you’re selling it. Don’t forget to list any accessories you’re including, such as charging cables, earbuds, or even the original box, as all of these can boost the sale. Take as many well-lit pictures as possible, detailing any damage or areas of concern. Also, include the details of any applicable warranty or AppleCare coverage, too.
Trade-in services offer you less, but you get the money almost immediately. Apple operates its own Apple Trade-In service, which reimburses you with Apple Store credit you can spend on a new iPhone, Mac, or anything sold at the company’s retail stores (online and offline). Despite offering store credit, Apple’s valuation, when compared to finding a buyer, is still very low. We were quoted $400 for an iPhone X 64 GB in good condition—around $200 less than the average resale value.
If your device has incurred significant damage, then trading it in might be the best option. If the screen is smashed, the charging port is loose, or the speakers don’t work well, the phone’s resale value plummets. In this case, consider trading your device for store credit, or selling directly to a company that recycles devices, like ecoATM or Wirefly.
Considerations for Your Next iPhone
If you stay with Apple, it’s a cinch to transfer your data, provided your new phone has enough free space. If you have a particularly large photo library or a lot of music files, make sure your new device has at least the same capacity as your old one. If you’re tired of seeing the “low space” pop-up, consider going for a bigger capacity this time.
One way around this issue is to invest in iCloud storage and enable iCloud Photo Library. This allows you to store smaller, compressed images on your device, while the full-size versions live in the cloud. You can download full-size images whenever you need them, provided you have an internet connection.
You may also need new accessories for your new iPhone if the design is significantly different from your last model. New iPhones don’t have a headphone port, so you might want to invest in some wireless AirPods. Your old case might not be compatible with your new iPhone, either, so a wireless charging pad could be a good idea since all post-iPhone 8 devices now support Qi charging.
Finally, you might want to take out some AppleCare+ coverage on your new iPhone. You can find out more about AppleCare+ and what it covers here.
The marketplaces we covered here aren’t just for iPhones. You can sell your old Android phone, iPad, or laptop, too.