There’s something very exciting about receiving a new smartphone.
From the first unboxing through to exploring your new device’s capabilities, replacement phones generally represent a welcome upgrade on what went before.
In truth, what went before is usually a perfectly serviceable smartphone which now has no further use.
Your formerly inseparable companion is suddenly redundant, valuable only as a cash asset to a phone reselling website.
However, selling your old phone shouldn’t be rushed.
It contains a wealth of personally identifiable information, known in IT circles as PII.
It’ll be set to your specific preferences, loaded with curated media files and potentially set up in a way subsequent purchasers wouldn’t appreciate.
These are ten steps we’d recommend taking prior to selling your old phone either as a trade-in or as a standalone transaction:
- Gather up accessories. You’re unlikely to get a higher sale price for including original packaging and accessories, but the next owner will certainly appreciate it.
Instruction manuals, charging cables and SIM card tools should always be supplied if they’re available. The original packaging and receipt will be welcome, too.
- Transfer contacts to your SIM card. Contact data is located on the SIM itself, within the device’s memory, or pooled across both locations.
Unless you can remember every contact’s mobile number, ensure their details are on the removable nano-SIM card before extracting it from the device.
- Save settings to the cloud. Android and iOS both offer the ability to transfer significant data (including browser cookies) onto a new device.
However, this only works for data stored in the cloud – information saved on the old smartphone will be erased.
- Notify people you’re changing device. It isn’t necessary to inform the window cleaner, but tell friends and colleagues about a forthcoming hardware switchover.
There might be a period of hours (or even days) where you’re less contactable than usual.
- Note down passwords. Some accounts are accessed via saved passwords or biometric data, which may not be transferable.
To avoid encountering issues on your new device, check your browser history for phone-specific accounts and change their passwords to something memorable.
- Clean the handset. Resale phones are valued according to condition, so cleanliness affects achievable selling prices.
A keyboard cleaning brush will remove detritus from ports and sockets, while a lint-free cloth should remove marks and smears. Surface abrasions are acceptable; dents are not.
- Backup photos. Songs can be streamed and old text messages are rarely significant, but photos are irreplaceable.
If they’re not saved onto a removable SD card, upload them into the cloud or conduct a USB transfer onto a computer.
- Save other data. While the device is tethered to a computer or connected to the cloud via WiFi, transfer valuable media files or documents.
Apple users can use either iCloud or iTunes, while Android owners have Google Cloud plus third-party services like OneDrive and Dropbox.
- Sign out of cloud accounts. Having transferred data, sign out of any cloud storage accounts to remove PII.
For instance, Apple users should go to Settings, choose their name, tap Sign Out and enter their Apple ID password. This ensures functions like Find My iPhone are disabled.
- Restore the phone to factory settings. This represents the final – and most critical – stage of selling your old phone.
A factory reset erases every personal setting, paired device and PII fragment, ensuring the handset’s next owner receives an as-new device.