How to sell an iPhone 4 safely on eBay
June 12, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I just sold my AT&T iPhone 4 on eBay and I have a couple of questions.

1. I purchased a new iPhone back in December of 2011, and had that phone activated with my phone number.

So my question is - Do I need to really need to remove the SIM card in the phone I just sold? When I sold my previous iPhone I didn't remove the SIM card and no harm has come that I know of.

As I am currently using a phone with my phone number I don't see how the old phone having the sim card could harm me, but someone please educate me on this. I didn't specify in the auction that I would be removing the SIM card, and I would prefer not to remove it if it's not a big deal.

2. A seller who did not win the auction wanted to know if I would call AT&T and have them unlock the phone. They said that I was the only person who could do this, and that because I was running firmware Modem Firmware 04.11.08 my phone would be an iPod Touch to anyone who didn't want an AT&T contract. So my questions in this regard are: -Why am I the only one who can call AT&T to unlock? The phone is not an activated phone, it was deactivated when I got my new phone.
-If the person I sold it to asked me to do this, should I do it? Is this something sketchy?

Thanks for helping me understand these issues.
posted by bonsai forest to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
1. Remove it. It's not a big deal. Many SIM cards hold your contacts and other info.

2. As long as the phone is deactivated the person buying it can do whatever they want.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:59 PM on June 12, 2012

2.1. Maybe if it is unlocked prior to sale any old sim card will work?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2012

I can see no reason why leaving the SIM in would hurt you, unless there's some data stored on it, which is maybe likely. But taking it out isn't too difficult, so if you're worried, why not?

AT&T allows its customers to unlock only off-contract iPhones. Since your iPhone 4 isn't on contract anymore, you're allowed to unlock it with them. I'm not sure if this is something only you can do, though I can see AT&T not allowing it if the person who's trying to get the phone unlocked didn't purchase it from them and have the contract with them. That is, it seems likely that they'd allow only the person who paid for the phone to have it unlocked. Having the phone unlocked isn't shady at all, though, and is a pretty handy thing to have done if you're travelling abroad or don't want to use AT&T anymore. Some more info on unlocking with AT&T.
posted by skilar at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2012

When I sold mine, I pulled the SIM and wiped it. People asking you to call AT&T and get unlock codes and such are annoying at worst. Pull the SIM and wipe it; their carrier will give them a new SIM with service.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:06 PM on June 12, 2012

1. It is up to you if you want to take the SIM out. When you transferred service to whatever phone you're using now, the old SIM was deactivated. iPhones don't store anything on the SIM. But if you used that SIM on another phone that did, then you may have old contacts on it. The benefit of having the deactivated SIM in it is you won't get an occasional popup whining about there being no SIM installed.

ATT requires the person who bought the iPhone to contact them to unlock the phone once it is off contract. If you don't unlock it, the person that bought it can only use it on AT&T. That means the purchaser can't use it on networks outside of the US or on T-Mobile USA as it currently rolls out its iPhone-capable frequency. If you sold the iPhone saying it would work on any GSM network, you have to get it unlocked. If you did it as an ATT only phone, you wouldn't be misleading the purchaser. Personally, now that ATT allows legit unlocks on phones, I wouldn't buy a used iPhone that wasn't carrier unlocked. Although jail breaking is pretty normal these days, there's not really reliable unlocks via jail breaking.
posted by birdherder at 7:27 PM on June 12, 2012

it is possible to unlock an AT&T iPhone even if you are not the original purchaser. But, you do have to have an AT&T account in good standing to do so. It actually increases the resale value quite a bit, so it is worthwhile before you sell the phone. The purchaser probably does not have an AT&T account, so it will be difficult for him to get unlocked.

However, if you just bought this phone seven months ago, then AT&T may not be willing to unlock it. They generally only unlocked phones after their two-year contract is up. You're free to do whatever you like with the phone of course, but AT&T won't actually unlock it until the service agreement has been fulfilled.
posted by skewed at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2012

Thanks everyone, all your comments were really helpful. I ran into the issue skewed brought up - I had purchased the phone in july 2010, so at first AT&T was not going to unlock it until July 2012. But since this was less than a month away, they were kind enough to unlock it anyway.
posted by bonsai forest at 10:27 AM on June 15, 2012

« Older I would like to get started on knowing what the...   |   Say Noooo! to the no-longer-available dress Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.