How to sell your phone and get the most money for it
Step 1. Transfer your personal data to another device
During the time you’ve used it, your smartphone has collected a large amount of personal files and information, so it’s essential not to lose any of it. If you’re selling your current smartphone, then you’d want to move your contacts, photos and other personal files to your new phone.
Step 2. Unlock your phone from your mobile carrier
The only benefit of this step is that your phone will be usable by more people, which means more potential buyers. One of the main requirements for a carrier to unlock a phone is that it has to be paid in full. This means no more monthly payments, or any other obligations connected to the device. Verizon 4G capable phones are not locked, so if your phone falls into that category, skip to the next step. For the other three major carriers, here are the relevant support pages:
Step 3. Reset your phone
For Android phones, the exact menu layout might vary depending on the manufacturer and model, but you should be looking for something similar to:
On iPhone, you must log out of your iCloud and iTunes account first. If you’re switching devices and you’re moving to Android, then you also need to Deregister iMessage.
After that, go to:
Factory resets can take a while, so make sure your phone has enough battery or just keep it on the charger.
Step 4. Clean your phone and accessories
Another important step is to make your phone look as brand new as possible. Get a microfiber cloth and give your smartphone a good wipe. To avoid getting more fingerprints on it while handling it for the photos, you can put on disposable latex gloves, if you have some around. If there’s more than fingerprints to remove, you can use a cleaning solution, but only for the back panel! Using chemicals or even alcohol can damage the coating of the display.
Step 5. Choose where to sell your phone
If you’re looking to use the funds for a new device and want the process to be as quick and easy as possible, then you can go for a trade-in. All major carriers and some retailers like Amazon and Walmart have trade-in programs. They use basic algorithms to determine the price of your smartphone, mostly based on the brand and model.
Places where you can trade-in your smartphone
- Verizon trade-in
- T-Mobile trade-in
- AT&T trade-in
- Sprint trade-in
- Walmart trade-in
- Amazon trade-in
- Best Buy trade-in
Websites where you can sell your phone
If you want to list your phone on more than one site, pay close attention to the terms and conditions that apply to your listing. For example, eBay has restrictions on canceling a listing that has bids on it.
Step 6. Take good pictures of your phone
If you are looking to sell it online, good photos will go a long way. Make sure the photos are taken with proper lighting and are in focus. A good assortment of photos includes:
- One of the phone with the display turned off, from an angle that shows if it has any scratches.
- One of the phone with the display turned on, to show it’s actually working and is intact.
- One of the back of the phone.
- Close up of the rear camera that shows if there are any scratches on the glass protecting the lens.
- Any visible damage or more serious wear shown in a dedicated photo will bring you bonus points for honesty, if you value it more than a few extra dollars.
- One of the accessories spread out.
- One of everything in its original box (if you have it).
You can use the crop tool on your phone's camera app to keep only the relevant parts of the pictures. You can adjust the brightness/contrast if needed, but avoid using any color adjustments or filters.
Here are some photos we took with a smartphone and no special lighting equipment used:
The first picture is at an angle that allows the light to reveal if there are any significant scratches on the display. The fifth one shows a tiny crack on the chin of the phone, the only cosmetic issue with the device.
Step 7. Create a listing that’s easy to read and understand
Once you’ve made your choice on a website, it’s time to prepare the ad itself. Besides the photos you’ve already taken, here are some other things that are worth including in the text of the ad:
- Exact model of the device and the version you have (if there are multiple storage/RAM options). You can include a link to a page that has the full specs of your smartphone (you can find those in the Phone section of our website).
- The carrier you got it from (if you did) and if it’s locked/unlocked. Many people aren’t aware that Verizon and Sprint use CDMA networks, while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM, so some phones won’t work with all carriers. Newer smartphones (iPhone 6 and newer, Galaxy S7 and newer, for example) support both standards, but it’s good to have that information anyway.
- What use the device has experienced: light/average/heavy, based on your own judgement.
- How long does the battery last during regular use. Battery life is one of the main concerns people have when looking to buy a used device, so it's important to give them a realistic idea of what to expect.
- A list of all the things that come with the phone. Just because something can be seen in a picture doesn’t always mean it’s included.
- Anything specific about your device that the buyer should know. If some part of it isn’t working, for example.
- A reasonable price. This is obvious, but we’re putting it here anyway. Look around the website you've selected to see what similar phones are selling for. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your offer and put a price that fits it. Even if you want to sell fast, avoid pricing your phone too low, people might find it suspicious and avoid your ad.
Step 8. Post and wait
Now all you have to do is publish your listing and wait for a buyer. Be on alert for any unusual payment methods or locations if you’re making the deal in person. Don’t hesitate to cancel if you have any suspicion that something isn’t right.