Purchasing a secondhand or refurbished smartphone is a great way to save money. In fact, sales for used phones have increased steadily over the past few years with numbers projected to grow to over 350 million units, valued at 65 billion USD, in 2024. It probably makes sense then that the sales of new smartphones has declined globally.
So if you’re thinking about selling your old handset, now is the time!
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No matter which method you’re exploring for sale, one thing’s for sure: It’s risky to sell your phone without taking the necessary precautions to ensure it’s a blank slate. If you don’t, your handset’s new owner may have access to aspects of your digital life. The last thing you want is for some stranger to trawl through your old photos, videos, or sensitive data.
Here are some precautionary measures to make sure your Android or iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices are safe for sale.
Note: the steps outlined below also apply if you’re looking to prep your handsets for disposal.
How to wipe your Android phone
Back everything up
This should always be the first thing you do and covers your media (photos, videos, documents, etc.), contacts, messages, and call logs. Once complete, remove any extra storage devices, like an SD card. Always remember, whichever method of backup you prefer, you should aim to create more than one—be it physical or in the cloud.
Sign out from all of your social profiles, miscellaneous services, and your Google account. Completely remove any payment methods you have saved on your phone. Once complete, be sure to completely disassociate your Google account. Now remove your SIM card from your Android handset.
Encrypt your device
At this stage, it’s important to note that the penultimate step before a final factory reset is to encrypt your Android handset. Why? Because as it turns out, performing a factory reset by itself does not completely guarantee that your old data may not be accessible nor left behind. Encrypting your device will make it extremely difficult for the next owner of your Android handset to access any data left behind.
Finally, perform a factory reset to revert your Android handset back to its original state et voilà! Note that this process varies from device to device so it’s advisable to check support instructions from your device’s manufacturer.
How to wipe your iPhone
Back everything up
Whether it’s for an iPhone or iPad, you can use Apple’s Quick Start to transfer your data and content to a new Apple device. You can also backup your data to iCloud or your macOS computer. If you have an Apple Watch paired to this device, unpair it now. If you’re moving away from Apple altogether, deregister iMessage, and then take care to back up your data to an external storage device or on the cloud.
Sign out from all of your Apple related accounts including iCloud and iTunes. Also make sure to sign out of all your third-party service accounts.
Reset your phone
Navigate to and action your Apple Device’s reset under General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings under Settings. Remove this device from your list of trusted devices.
Read more: Your old phone number is putting you at risk
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