How to safely sell a used iPhone?
June 14, 2010 3:02 PM   Subscribe

How should I safely sell my iPhone?

So, fueled by new-gadget lust, I want to sell my iphone 3g to help pay for a new phone. I have some specific questions and would also appreciate any related advice on how to do this, or reasons it's a bad idea. For reference, I was planning on selling the old phone after I buy the new one (iPhone 4g).

1)is the "Erase all contents and settings" option in General Settings a secure enough erase? I don't have anything top secret, of course, but I have all the regular personal data, plus stuff like 1Password.

2) When you sell a used phone on eBay or craigslist, do you sell it with the sim card? I know this is ignorant, but how does it get de-coupled from my cell phone number and service? Does this happen automatically when I activate my new phone?

3) It looks like prices are higher on ebay than on gazelle or Is there a reason to avoid eBay?
posted by mercredi to Technology (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1) This will be sufficient for most transactions. It is theoretically possible to extract data, even from "erased" flash memory, but well beyond the capabilities of every buyer you would conceivably meet.

2) No, you keep your SIM. The buyer will either use an existing SIM or get a new one from his or her provider of choice.

3) Hassle. Gazelle and other sites buy at a discount which prices in the one-stop process they provide instead of having to deal with an eBay auction.
posted by fireoyster at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2010

Best answer: 1) The built-in wipe on the iPhone should be secure enough. If you're still paranoid, do a full OS restore in iTunes and don't restore the backup afterwards.

2) The SIM card is what couples it with your current service. I would personally sell it without the SIM and let the buyer deal with getting a new SIM and service from AT&T (or whatever provider is in their country).

3) I am selling mine to Gazelle. Much less hassle than eBay, where you have to pay listing fees, deal with shipping costs, etc. Gazelle quoted my iPhone 3G 16GB at $138 with a coupon code from RetailMeNot. Maybe I could have gotten more for it elsewhere, but I'd prefer to just stick it in a box and ship it without the hassle. Plus, Gazelle's price quote is good for 30 days, which means I have already locked in my price and can wait until after I get my new phone before shipping it off.
posted by Nothlit at 3:13 PM on June 14, 2010

Regarding ebay, my friend sold her broken iphone on ebay and got scammed. She listed it as broken. The buyer immediately filed a complaint after winning the auction, saying it wasn't in the condition that she claimed. (Like, before he could have received it.) Ebay refunded his money and he returned the phone in pieces, after taking the screen, and disabled his account. Friend is still trying to get her money back from ebay. If you do sell it on ebay, at least specify that bidders must have a minimum of positive feedbacks. (Her buyer had 0 feedback.)
posted by artychoke at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2010

The "Erase all content and settings" on the iPhone is very secure. It not only erases the data, but overwrites it several times with junk data to make sure that it cannot be recovered. If you decide to do a full OS restore, make sure to do so *after* you erase all content.
posted by helios at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2010

In my experience, Craigslist is an excellent way to sell used electronics like iPods or iPhones. Look at current listings and pick a fair price. Meet someone locally and insist on payment in cash, so there is no chance for any funny business.
posted by zxcv at 6:02 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

RadioShack is paying $100 for iPhone 3G models. If you buy the phone there, you can swap it - potentially saving hassle, though not necessarily fetching top dollar.
Good luck!
posted by herrtodd at 2:53 AM on June 15, 2010

I believe the iPhone 4 uses the mini (micro?) SIM cards, which the existing iPhones don't use. You may need to convert it.
posted by chairface at 1:40 PM on June 15, 2010

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