How to sell your iPhone

How to get the most money for your old iPhone before upgrading to a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c

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 5s or iPhone 5c the minute it hits store shelves but find yourself not eligible for an upgrade, or without enough cash to justify purchasing it without a subsidy, selling your old iPhone can help offset most, if not all of the cost. But before you put it up for sale or trade it in, there are some steps you should take to make sure you get the most money for your old iPhone.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Check out the following links for more information and help with jailbreaking and unlocking.

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 recently launched 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. From what we're hearing, current values for a 16GB good condition iPhone 5 is around $250. This is quite a bit lower than what some other sites will offer you but if you're willing to sacrifice a little cash for convenience, it's an okay option.

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.

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.

Apple's program is currently offering up to $406 for a mint condition 64GB iPhone 5. While it's an easy way to get some quick Apple cash, other services can probably fetch you far more for your old iPhone. Unless you are only interested in quick cash and enough of it to cover a new iPhone, continue reading for more options.

Amazon Trade-In Store

Amazon, like Apple, will buy back your old iPhone as well through the Amazon Trade-In Store. 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 $400 for a mint condition 16GB iPhone 5 which isn't a bad deal at all.

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 16GB iPhone 5 in normal condition will fetch you around $315 while one in mint condition will get you $330. 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.com 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 5 in mint condition is currently worth $330 on SellYourMac.

buymyi

mendmyi has just launched a new service in the UK called buymyi that'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. It functions by letting you pick out a fault (or multiple faults) and adding them. Since at it's core, mendmyi is a repair company, it will use their repair cost in order to adjust the value of your device given current rates.

It's a great option for iPhone owners that have issues selling an imperfect iPhone for a fair price elsewhere. As of today, buymyi is offering £270 for a 16GB good condition iPhone 5. They 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 near future.

eBay

Selling your iPhone on eBay is a pretty simple process. 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.

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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How to sell your iPhone

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Your forgot two services. Nextworth and Amazon(just listing it, not trading it in) .

Nextworth lets you lock in your price for 30 days. This is huge as the value of my 4s is going to drop significantly on Sept 10th. I locked in yesterday for $165 for both my 4s and my wife's. Once we get our new 5's I am gong to list them on Amazon. If they don't sell I will still be withing the 30 day window and get close to what I will purchase the new phones for. That is assuming the new "5s" will be $199 on contract.

If you were willing to get an offer from Nextworth then you should have went with Gazelle instead, they are offering $200 for a "Good" 4S and will honor the quote until 10/15, more time to find a buyer who is willing to pay more. You should lock in a price with Gazelle as well.

What do most people do about selling their iPhone?
1. Sell the old phone, go without a modern phone for a while. Then buy the new phone once the money is received for the old phone?
2. Sell the old phone once you have already purchased a new phone?
3. Other?
Thank you for the help!

Ha ha, I'm good on this front, 18 phones in 3 years and only lost money on two. Craigslist is amazing. I front the cash for my new phone and then I sell the one I was using on Craigslist for greater than the cost of the new phone and....I got paid to switch phones. I can see myself getting $400-$600 on Craigslist for my 64GB iPhone 5.

Sent from the iMore App

The author should have mentioned www.upgradeswap.com

They pay you before you ship the device and usually within an hour. That's what I want, I don't want to send in my iPhone unless I get paid first.

They're the highest paying website too. Up to $100 more than some of the other big name sites.

I've had a great experience just selling it through the apple store. They were very helpful and the price they were buying for I thought was reasonable. I'm someone that doesn't mind paying a little extra or losing a little money for the convenience and handling everything from selling to buying to applying it towards your upgrade, the apple store just seems to make it easier. The nice thing is they don't pressure you to try to sell it to them or make you feel bad if you change your mind.

I used gazelle.com once and didn't get very much for my phone. Once I mailed it they insisted that it was in worse condition than it actually was in. The last two times I sold a device I sold it on Selltronic.com. This was a much better service, it went very smoothly and I got paid more than gazelle would have. Just my two cents.