How to sell your old iPhone before upgrading to the iPhone 4S

So you're getting an iPhone 4S, you've chosen the carrier and decided on the storage size, and now you need to figure out the ins and outs of how to sell your old iPhone (or other smartphone) before upgrading? If you don't want to keep it around as a spare, or as an iPod touch, or hand it down to a family member or friend -- if you're looking to get some cash back -- then there are a few things you can do, and a few things you need to know before getting started.

Today we're going to show you how to cash out the old and bring in the new using a number of great services!

Getting more for your old iPhone

Before you sell your old iPhone, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the best selling price possible.

  1. Jailbreak/Unlock: The iPhone usually sells for more money when it's jailbroken and especially unlocked, meaning you have the additional options of running restricted apps through Cydia or getting service on another carrier (like T-Mobile in the US, or any international GSM carrier). If you are new to jailbreaking we suggest checking out the jailbreak forums for the best resources.
  2. Condition: It kind of goes without saying that you'll get more money if your device is in better condition, but this counts even more when it comes to the iPhone. If your device is in excellent shape, you're going to be able to ask for a higher amount. For example, an iPhone 3GS in 'fair' condition with wear and tear can get you around $230 while a 3GS in 'perfect' cosmetic condition can get you as much as $300. I've seen a wide range of pricing on the iPhone 4 and 3GS based on condition, so make sure you research prices and price competitively. (And giving it a good, careful cleaning before you take any photos or send it off is always a good idea.)
  3. Wipe your data: Before you end up selling your old iPhone, we highly suggest you run a full data wipe on your device to make sure none of your data is available to the lucky new owner. We've done a quick How-To post to help you with the process.

Putting your iPhone up for sale

Now that we're passed the basics and you're ready to put your iPhone up for sale, it's important to weigh all the options you have before making a decision on which service to use.

There are a ton of great online services out there to help you sell your old iPhone and we won't be able to go through them all, so we've filtered down the list of services for you. We'll start with the most familiar of them all...


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 if 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.
  5. Use keywords in your title and in your item description to attract more potential buyers.

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.


Selling on craigslist is locally based, so you'll be making a face-to-face exchange with someone in your area. I've used Craigslist to sell a number of things around the house, and always follow a few basic rules:

  • Don't ever put your personal or home address in an ad. Ever!
  • I'm usually fine with putting my personal phone number in an ad, but that's up to you. Some find it easier to text rather than email.
  • Meet in a public place, preferably in the daytime.
  • Watch out for email scams, something Craigslist is notorious for.

It's always a good idea to use caution when dealing with Craigslist. I've heard some pretty crazy stories of people getting robbed or worse when meeting with people for a transaction, so bring a friend and meet in an open, public area to avoid those types of situations.


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, and the service will check for any water damages before giving you a quote.

An average-conditioned 16gb iPhone 4 will currently grab you about $215 where a perfect-conditioned iPhone 4 will get you as much as $250. The process takes about a week, and although you're not getting as much money in the end it's a great service if you don't want to deal with a lot of hassle. You can have your payment delivered through Paypal among other methods, and you can also submit multiple items if you're looking to get rid of a few more things while you're at it. offers a similar service to Gazelle by letting you send in your old iPhone for payment with little to no hassle involved. In a nutshell, they'll buy your old Mac or iOS device. You're required to provide pictures along with a serial number next to your item description and condition. Once 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 and even says they give higher quotes than competing services like Gazelle, so you'll definitely want to compare before making any final decisions.

Apple Recycle Program

If selling your old iPhone on any of the services mentioned above doesn't sound appealing, Apple has set up a new iPod and Mobile Phone Recycling Program. As of this writing, Apple will give up to $200 for your used perfect-conditioned 32GB White iPhone 4 in the form of an Apple Gift card, which you can then turn around and use to purchase the iPhone 4S. In this case, you're basically getting the iPhone 4S at no charge (with a 2-year contract, of course). If you have a black model, they'll give you up to $180.

Apple is even including the iPhone 3GS in the Recycle Program, giving a $105 gift card if your 3GS is in perfect condition. They also offer to give you a new 8GB model of the same iPhone to swap out provided you sign a 2-year contract.

Personal transactions

Just because all these online services are available, it doesn't mean you can't still sell your old iPhone the old fashioned way -- person to person, likely to a friend or acquaintance. Just be sure to follow all the tips suggested above, and remember that accessories like Square can even let you take credit cards right on your own device now, if cash isn't as convenient.

Bonus tip

Include all packaging, cables and adapters if possible. If you have any extra cases or accessories you want to throw in the deal it can usually net you a higher selling price as a bundle instead of trying to sell them individually.

Any questions?

Whether it's eBay, Criagslist or any other method for selling your old iPhone we hope this article will help you along the way. As always, let us know if you have any questions or additional suggestions in the comments below!

You can also check out our Marketplace Forum for more iPhone buying/selling action.