Knowledge Base

Steps to take before selling your handset


Last week, I wrote a blog on the ‘Best places to exchange your old handset for £££’ and a giffgaff member, @computekbrain, was keen on learning how to prepare for selling a phone. This request was both appropriate and convenient and, thus, here I am with information that may benefit anyone looking to sell their phone now or at any point in the near future.


To start with, some people may think ‘what is there to prepare?’ The answer is; lots!

You cannot simply hand over your phone in exchange for cash. Well, you can but that’s not the way you should go about it really. You need to think about protecting your data. 


Data Protection


Most people, nowadays, use their phone for everything like taking photos of their loved ones, their children etc., storing contact details for friends and family and some even go as far as making note of their debit / credit card pin numbers and passwords to their email accounts etc. (I wouldn’t recommend doing this).


All of the above is confidential data, personal information that you do NOT want other people getting access to. This is why setting the phone back to factory settings is the best thing to do when selling your phone. Not only does this remove all your settings but it also gets rid of all your content (photos, notes and so on). Essentially, it makes the phone brand new again (internally). So, the buyer of your phone will not have any access to any of the things you had stored on your phone. Instead, it would be bare and they would have to set it all up again, as if it was just taken out of the box. 


How do I do this?


It’s very easy to do but remember to BACK UP your phone before doing the following, so that you can retain your photos, notes, contacts etc. and transfer them onto your new phone. You can back up via the iCloud or iTunes on an iPhone. I would do it on both but I’m a back up freak which probably comes from being an IT Geek Smiley Tongue




For non-iOS users, you can create a manual back up on your computer or use one of the cloud services available, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.


To set the phone back to factory settings on an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset. Be sure to click “Erase All Content and Settings’, to completely set the phone back to factory settings. Doing otherwise will only reset the settings.

For all other phones, you should have a similar reset option in your settings section.


iPhone Settings.PNG.png


When the process is complete, your phone will reboot and you will be welcomed by the Welcome screen, as shown below. If you see this then you have successfully reset your phone back to factory settings.


TIP: Once on the welcome screen, don’t do anything to the phone. Simply switch it off ready for the next owner. I say this because if you go ahead and set up the language and so on, when the new owner switches it on they will be redirected to the home screen. It’s not really an issue but if they see the welcome screen, they will fully experience the “I’ve just got a new phone” feeling. It’s the best way to go about it Smiley Wink


Whilst all of the above will do a pretty good job at wiping all of your data, there are additional steps you need to take.


  • Remove your sim card – Contacts and call logs may still be recorded on your sim card. The new owner does not need this information so why let them have it? You may even need the same sim card for your new phone so don’t forget to take it out of the phone.
  • Remove / wipe your SD card - If your phone has a SD card then chances are you have data on there. Remember to remove all data or just remove the SD card completely. (If it came with the phone then you should probably just delete the data off it, format the SD card and place it back in the phone)


I’m quite paranoid and, therefore, I always double check to confirm everything is indeed wiped. I’d definitely recommend double-checking to ensure your data cannot be accessed by anyone.




Wiping your phone from all content and settings is not the only thing you need to worry about. Making accessories available with the phone is also very beneficial.

When I say accessories, I’m talking, mainly, about the wall charger, the USB cable and the user manual. The latter is not crucial but may still be appreciated.


You’re probably wondering why I never mentioned headphones because they do come in the box when you buy a new phone. However, hygiene needs to be considered. Do you really want to wear headphones that have been in someone else’s ears? Probably not.


What you could do is buy a set of new replacement headphones and add them to the box and mention ‘new unused headphones’ in your advertisement / listing. It’s not key but is always a bonus Smiley Wink


People are most likely to buy a phone that comes boxed with its accessories than a phone on its own. 




TIP: Extras are always awesome. So if you have non-original accessories such as phone cases, screen protectors, speakers, car phone holders and suchlike that you know you won’t be using again (maybe because they aren’t compatible with your new phone) then I’d recommend adding them in. Make sure you include them in your photos and description. They could make a nice bit of difference in your sale price.  


Unlock your phone


Backing up data, removing data and including the original accessories are the three most important steps to undertake, prior to selling your phone. You can stop there or go one step further.


Some phones will come carrier locked, which means only sim cards from that specific network will work. Although your phone will still sell, you have a higher chance of earning more if it is unlocked because your target audience is no longer restricted to, say, o2 / giffgaff / Tesco users.


Fortunately, some carriers unlock your phone for free if you’re their customer. If this applies to you, take advantage and get the phone unlocked. Otherwise, you would have to pay roughly £15 - £20. 


Ready, steady, sell!


That is all. So, if you’re planning on selling your phone then ensure you prepare by reviewing the steps above. Use it as a checklist if you wish. Be sure to check out my previous blog on the best places to sell your phone and you’re good to go Smiley Wink


I hope that has helped. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will answer ASAP. 


Also, if you have any blog suggestions, then feel free to let me know in the comments box Smiley Happy


Thanks for reading.

- Sadia


Really good post, and very sound information. Thank you.

I always do a factory reset on any phone I am no longer using, however I tend to back everything up manually, an idiots guide to backing up an android phone would be useful and very welcome.

grand master

Oooh I even got a shout out! Smiley Wink


Thanks for doing this, very informative! Smiley Happy


Muchas gracias! (I think that's the correct way to say thank you very much... it's the only bit of spanish I know Smiley Wink)


@ezeetrucker- You're welcome and it will be considered Smiley Happy


@computekbrain- A shout out to you was deserved Smiley Wink haha correct Smiley Happy

This is a great accompanying blog, thanks. I think I will want to sell my S3, when I upgrade my phone. Very handy info, thanks again! :-)

Good article - although worth remembering that quick formatting and deleting files does not always remove data from a flash memory device. 'Undelete' software can sometimes recover data so the only sure way to really get rid of data is to overwrite the memory with something else - and how well a factory reset or wipe works may vary depending on the O.S. and software used to do the wipe.


Thanks for sharing!


I'll definitely try to figure out how much my handset is worth once I decide to replace it (your previous blog was quite helpful in suggestions of where to sell used handsets). It's good to educate people that a Factory Reset is far better than just 'deleting' everything on your handset. Using a backup app like Helium (for Android - you do not need to root your handset to use this app) will allow you to save your apps externally, before performing a factory reset. 


These are good, sensible precautions that all sellers should take. Useful blog, thanks.


Any chance of  add a guide to returning a rooted phone to stock factory settings?

good guide

Great advice. Good blog.