How to sell your old iPhone

How to sell your old iPhone so you can buy the iPhone 6!

How to sell your old iPhone, and get the most money possible to put towards your new iPhone!

If you're itching to buy a brand new iPhone 6 the minute it hits store shelves, one of the best ways to pay for it is to sell your old iPhone. No matter what price point you're going to end up paying for your new iPhone, the proceeds from selling your old one definitely help lessen the impact. Whether you've got an iPhone 4 that desperately needs replacing or something even newer, we can guide you through all the steps you should take in order to get top dollar for your current iPhone.

The best time to sell

Some people wait to sell their old iPhone until after the new one drops in fear of not having a phone to use. Keep in mind that the minute a new iPhone drops, the prices for older models tend to reduce drastically. This especially holds true for the last latest and greatest model. In this case, if you own an iPhone 5s and need to sell it, it's in your best interest to sell it before the iPhone 6 is released if you want the most bang for your buck. Grab an old phone you've got laying around, borrow one from a friend, or pick up a cheap prepaid one to stick your SIM in for the few weeks between now and launch.

However, if you're reading this immediately after an iPhone launch, it doesn't really pertain to you anymore, so just continue on.

Preparing to sell your iPhone

Before actually placing a listing for your iPhone, there are a few things you should consider before starting to put for sale ads up on the internet that can help you fetch a higher price tag.

Disable Find My iPhone

iPhones and iPads with Find My iPhone enabled can not be activated by someone else unless the feature is turned off. In other words, be absolutely positive that you've disabled it before you hand your iPhone over to a new owner or send it on its way via post.

If for some reason you've already sent out a device that has Activation Lock enabled, you can remotely turn it off by following this guide. However, sometimes some users find they are unable to successfully remove the device, which leaves this method touch and go.

Wipe your iPhone and protect your data

Before you sell your old iPhone to get a new one, you need to make sure you protect your data. You don't want to give the next owner access to all your old pictures, messages, accounts, and other private information, of course.

Clean up your iPhone and take great pictures

iPhones hold their value rather well as long as you take care of them. If you've taken excellent care of your iPhone you can probably get a little more for it than someone else who is trying to sell off a banged up old iPhone. First of all, clean it up. Make sure you remove any surface dirt and get any gunk or lint out of the corners, crevices, and ports as you can. It doesn't matter how great your iPhone works if it looks like crap, you won't get the best price. This also includes removing fingerprints from the screen before taking photos. Nothing is more unattractive to buyers than seeing a device with tons of fingerprints caked on the screen.

The key to making a quick sale is to make sure you're honest and open about the condition of your iPhone. To make sure you are representing your product, take high quality pictures of the actual iPhone and avoid stock images at all costs. Many buyers will skip over listings that have stock images in them and only buy from sellers that include pictures of the actual iPhone. If there are any minor scratches or nicks, photograph those too. Buyers like honest sellers and it helps build trust.

Include accessories and original cables

If you've got the original cables and accessories that came with your iPhone, that's a great selling point. If you have the original box it came in, that's even better. For an even quicker sale, you can include some accessories or cases you've purchased for it over time. If you're upgrading from an iPhone 4S or older, cases and chargers won't be compatible so throw them in to sweeten the deal and sell your iPhone faster.

Jailbreak and unlock your iPhone

If you've got an iPhone that's unlocked, it will most likely sell a lot quicker. AT&T and some other carriers will unlock out of contract iPhones, so if you're out of contract you may be able to just call your carrier and request an unlock.

If you aren't out of contract, you may still be able to unlock it through jailbreaking with the help of a tool like evasi0n. This will depend on which model iPhone you have and what firmware you're running, so make sure your iPhone can be unlocked before attempting it. And keep in mind this step is not necessary but if you're determined to fetch the highest dollar, it's not a bad idea.

Even if you can't unlock your iPhone, jailbroken iPhones and ones that can be jailbroken tend to fetch a higher dollar amount than ones that can't. So be ready to answer that question if a seller asks if the iPhone can be jailbroken. In other words, it's a good idea not to upgrade your iPhone to iOS 8 or any future firmware. Let the buyer decide whether or not they're going to do that.

Putting your iPhone up for sale

Now that you've got all the information collected about your iPhone and what accessories you want to include in the sale, it's time to actually list it sell it. There are many places online that you can utilize as well as listing sites that allow you to meet up with buyers locally. We'll cover the ones we recommend and you can decide which one is best for you personally.

We'll go over some options first that'll get you cash or credit quickly and then we'll take a look at services like Craigslist and eBay that may fetch you more for your old iPhone but will require a little more patience and maybe some haggling with an actual seller.

Apple in-store trade-in program

Apple offers their own in-store trade-in program for iPhones that make it easy to walk in and trade in your current iPhone for credit towards a new one. Trade-in prices will vary depending on what country you're in, where exactly you're located, what condition your iPhone is in, and what the capacity and model is.

Keep in mind too that Apple's in-store program requires you to get a new iPhone at the time of trade-in as well as sign a new contract with the carrier of your choice. That means this isn't an option for those looking to buy outright with no contract. Apple's reuse and recycling program would is still an option as are many of the others below, they just won't be on the spot credit like Apple's in-store program, which may make it appealing for those that don't want to go through the hassle of selling their iPhone privately.

To get accurate pricing info for your area, you'll need to visit your local Apple Store or check through the Apple Store app.

Apple Reuse and Recycling Program

Apple will gladly buy back your old iPhone and either reuse it as a refurbished unit or recycle it on your behalf through their Reuse and Recycling Program. You'll be asked a series of questions regarding the condition, capacity, and color of your iPhone. It's important that you're honest because Apple will of course check that what you told them matches the actual condition once they receive the iPhone.

After Apple certifies that the iPhone is in working condition they'll issue you an Apple Store gift card that you can use towards any purchase. For most of you, that'll be towards your new iPhone. Currently a 16GB iPhone 5 in good working condition will fetch you a gift card for $225. You can of course click the link below to price out your exact model. Note that it doesn't look like Apple accepts iPhone 3GS and older. And at the time of writing, iPhone 5s is not listed either.

Amazon Trade-In Store

Amazon, like Apple, will buy back your old iPhone as well through the . The only hitch here is that you'll be given payment in the form of an Amazon gift card. If you're looking for hard cash to put towards a new iPhone purchase and you don't want to wait for Amazon to have it in stock, it may not be the best option.

If you're okay with Amazon credit though, it's a pretty painless process. You'll choose the model, capacity, and color of your current iPhone and add it to your trade-in. You'll then be given a shipping label and instructions. Once Amazon receives your old iPhone, they'll issue you an Amazon gift card for the trade-in value. Amazon is currently offering around $300 for a carrier locked iPhone 5s and upwards of $400 if it's unlocked. Not a terrible deal, but still less than private party values will fetch you.

Gazelle

Gazelle offers a service that lets you easily turn most electronic devices into cash. Simply send in your iPhone and Gazelle will send you money after confirming the item condition. The first thing you'll need to do is tell Gazelle what you're selling and what condition the item is in. You can choose from poor, fair, good or excellent condition, and it's important to be honest when rating the condition so there's no hiccups or snags along the way. It also helps if you have the box and original documentation and cables with your item. Also make sure you check for any water damage, as Gazelle will too once they receive the iPhone.

Currently, a carrier locked 16GB iPhone 5s in normal condition will fetch you around $260 while its unlocked counterpart will get you almost $300. If your iPhone is in absolute mint condition, you'll get a little more added to those totals. Again, always be honest about the condition. While Gazelle is a quick way to get money for your old iPhone, you can probably get quite a bit more on services like Craigslist and eBay if you can afford to be more patient with the actual selling process.

SellYourMac.com

SellYourMac offers a similar service to Gazelle by letting you send in your old iPhone for payment with little to no hassle involved. They'll not only buy your old iPhone, but any Apple gear you have laying around. This is a good option if you have other Apple products you're willing to sell besides an old iPhone.

You'll be required to provide pictures along with a serial number next to your item description and condition. Once SellYourMac.com receives your iPhone they clean it, inspect it and verify that it's in working condition before they turn around and sell it on eBay. Users can receive payment via Paypal if they choose as well. SellYourMac's quotes are a little higher than other competing services such as Gazelle. A 16GB iPhone 5s that's carrier locked and in good condition is currently fetching $266. An unlocked version of the same iPhone is right on part with Gazelle at $295.

buymyi

mendmyi has just launched a new service in the UK called buymyi. It's the first of it's kind when it comes to buying used iPhones. While most others only let you choose whether the device is in good condition, broken, or liquid damaged, buymyi will actually price out and buy your used iPhone regardless of the issue. Simply pick out a fault (or multiple faults) and buymyi instantly adjusts the price. Since at it's core, mendmyi is a repair company, it's one of the few companies that can offer this kind of service to their customers. Currently mendmyi is paying £250 for a 16GB iPhone 5s with no faults and £201 for a 16GB iPhone 5s with a broken screen, both of which are good values.

It's a great option for iPhone owners that have issues selling an imperfect iPhone for a fair price elsewhere. buymyi will send out payment within 24 hours of receiving the device and they let you choose between Paypal, bank transfer, or check. The service is currently only available to UK residents but may expand to other countries in the future.

Swappa

Swappa is a marketplace that allows you to quickly and easily list your iPhone for sale. Since prices are based on what other users are buying them for, it makes values a little more reasonable. Unlike eBay and other online listing sites, Swappa specializes in phones so anyone browsing is there for that reason. Most folks I've known to use the service have sold quickly as long as they price fairly. Average selling price for a 16GB carrier locked iPhone 5s is currently at $374, which is quite a lot higher than trade-in sites such as Gazelle.

If you don't have a problem exercising a little patience when selling your iPhone, Swappa can fetch you higher prices.

eBay

If you've ever used eBay for selling things in the past then you know the selling process isn't all that tricky, however there are still some things to keep in mind when using eBay to sell your iPhone. For instance, eBay charges fees for each auction based on the item you're selling and how much it sells for, among other things, so here are five quick tips to help you get the most out of your auction:

  1. Only ship to the buyer's confirmed Paypal address if using Paypal.
  2. Price competitively, especially if you're using Buy It Now as an option.
  3. Make sure the pictures you use follow your description and are good quality - post pictures of any physical blemishes on the iPhone and be up-front in your description.
  4. Use a fast shipping service and make sure you include that in your item description. People are impatient by nature so sellers that offer fast shipping tend to sell items quicker.
  5. Use keywords in your title and in your item description to attract more potential buyers.
  6. You may also want to consider insuring your item in case anything goes wrong during shipping. Watch out for low-feedback buyers and also keep in mind that Paypal charges processing fees as well.

Craigslist

Craigslist allows you to list items for sale in your area so you can perform the transaction locally and face-to-face. This is a quick way to get some cash for your iPhone on the spot and also an easy way to let the buyer check out the iPhone in person before committing to the purchase. As long as you were honest about the condition and specifications, you should have no issue in completing a painless transaction with a buyer.

  1. Don't ever put your personal or home address in an ad. Ever!
  2. Price your iPhone competitively. A good way to do this is to find existing ads on Craigslist in your area for iPhones that are the same model, capacity, and condition as yours and price accordingly. If your iPhone shows up next to someone else's and yours is grossly overpriced, it won't sell.
  3. Some buyers prefer being able to text or call you immediately about an item and it may increase the likelihood of a quick sale. Having a phone number that they can reach you at is ideal. Only do this if you're comfortable with putting your phone number on the internet. This is a good time to use a Google Voice number or other forwarding number if you have one.
  4. Meet in a public place, preferably in the daytime. A coffee place like Starbucks is a good idea. It's also never a bad idea to bring a friend or relative with you. While most buyers are perfectly friendly, there are shady people out there. If the person doesn't want to meet in a public place, pass on them and wait for someone who doesn't have an issue with that.
  5. Watch out for email scams, something Craigslist is notorious for. Anyone offering to pay you a great deal more than the list price or who asks you to ship the item to a foreign country is a scammer. Delete their e-mails and correspondence immediately and wait for a legitimate buyer to come along.

Sell your iPhone to a friend or family member

Even you aren't willing to part with your old iPhone for free it doesn't mean friends or family members aren't interested in buying it from you. Perhaps they don't have an iPhone or aren't eligible for an upgrade and don't care about having the newest model available. Using this method you ensure that your old iPhone finds a good home and you know the buyer isn't a scam artist.

Ask around and offer a reasonable price and you may be surprised how many of your friends or family members could be willing to snag your old iPhone. Throwing in accessories such as cases can help sweeten the deal as well. I've sold many devices this way simply by posting a Facebook status.

Get more help selling your old iPhone

Whether you just aren't sure which method to use, need advice on what condition you should list your iPhone as, or what you should price it at, we're here to help. You can leave any questions you have about selling your old iPhone in the comments below or better yet, in our iMore forums where lots of our members have years of experience selling and trading gadgets of all kinds.

One of our members may even be interested in taking your old iPhone off your hands so be sure to check out our Marketplace forum as well!

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to sell your old iPhone so you can buy the iPhone 6!

21 Comments

So yesterday night, my fiancée asks me if she should sell her 5S so can get the iPhone 6 (she has an old iPhone 5 she can still use in the meantime). I say sure!

This morning, she bikes to a pilates class and drops her iPhone on the ground while putting her bike back onto the rack. Cracked the screen up GOOD. :/

Great post though. Now I know what it would have been worth to sell in good condition.

Cracked screens seem to be an epidemic. I see them everywhere. Everywhere! And I can't understand why people don't get them fixed. I guess people are just cheap.

Sorry that happened. You know, you might be able to get the screen replaced and still make the cost back and then some on re-sale. There are non-Apple places that replace screens for a decent price.

Ahh, tough luck.. we miss you so much on CB!!

Ally - Thanks again.. I have covered my iPhone 5 with Apple leather case from a long time so that I can get some good $$

There's no mention in the article about turning iMessage off in settings before selling. Failure to do so has caused a lot of messaging problems.

Sold my white iPhone 5 on Verizon (yes, carrier does matter) to Apple via Reuse and got $220 for it. Would have gotten $10 more but I didn't include the power cable or outlet plug - at Apple prices they're worth more than $10 so no big loss. The gift card should arrive soon and I'll have funded my new iPhone 6. Glad I quit my old job when I did and decided to go with only one device. Then again, my new employer made it possible by not having draconian security policies that would have wiped my personal data.

I must give a plug to SWAPPA.com. I have sold 8 devices on SWAPPA including my daughters iPhone 4S 32GB! It sold in a few hours! i devices sell pretty well!

Isn't it possible/legal to call your carrier to UNLOCK your phone since Mr. Obama just signed it into law?

The first thing I do is price my iPhone on Gazelle and then offer it to friends for that same price. Given that doesn't happen, I go to GameStop which is at the same mall as my Apple Store and they give me cash for my iPhone at the same price as Gazelle, no waiting and immediately.

i try to take really good care of my phones so i get top dollar for them when they go on ebay, im often syrprised by how much i get, i suppose because i list every flaw ( there are barely any ) and include very high res pictures. i also include all the original box/stickers/papers/sim tray tool so its almost like its new.

the only iphone i didnt get as much as i hoped for was the iphone 5, it was black and despite having a tpu case in it it still got little scratches on the back from trapped dirt i guess. That particular phone in that particular color scratched SO easily, i am so careful with my phones, i still dont really know how it got that way.

now im preparing to sell my 5S and i went with white this time, its in perfect condition and im expecting it to sell quite well. i am hanging for the 6!

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