With me, the iPhone is like the water cycle, a never ending circular flow, that just keeps on repeating itself. What do I mean?

Well, my theory is like this: Buy an iPhone once, and never pay the full price for one again. How so? Here are 5 easy tips that will help you sell your iPhone for top dollar, so that you can turn around and buy a new one for free, or close to it.

Tip 5: Get a screen protector for the front (and the back)!

I know, I know, for some of you, that’s like pulling teeth, but the purpose of this article is to show you how to maximize your profit at the end of your usage, hence sacrifices need to be made. There are a few screen protectors out there that work great, and won’t break the bank. A screen protector will keep your iPhone looking like it did on day one. The less scratches you have to report, the higher your resale value.

Tip 4: Get a case.

Another, “well, duh,” moment, and another unpopular request. Face it though, you will drop your phone, and you will drop it more than once over the length of your usage. Slap it in a case if you value your iPhone’s resale-ability. I understand it looks and feels so much better without a bulky case, but this step goes without saying.

Personally I like the Incipio dermaSHOT. Not only is it a great minimalistic case, it includes a free screen protector, and microfiber wipe. Also, don’t forget to take the phone out of the case once and a while, and clean any debris that may be stuck in there; that can scratch your phone as well.

Tip 3: Keep your box, “Finger Tips”, everything.

Do not throw that box away! That’s one of the biggest keys to resale value — having the complete package. With this in mind, you probably already have a spare iPhone charger, USB cable, and headphones lying around somewhere as well. Why not keep the fresh ones as they are in the box, and use the ones you already have? Come sale time, you’ll have a nice fresh package to show off.

Tip 2: Avoid eBay if possible.

Sell it to someone you know, or on Craigslist. That way you get your cash instantly with no ridiculous transaction fees or holds. If you have no choice but to sell it on eBay that’s okay, you can still rack in some nice coinage, but you can probably maximize your profit elsewhere.

Tip 1: Jailbreak your phone, and preserve your unlock!

If you don’t strictly adhere to any other tip, follow this one. I can’t stress this enough. Preserve your unlock capabilities. Let me repeat it again. Preserve. Your. Unlock capabilities. An unlocked phone can fetch significantly more money than a locked phone. If you jailbreak your phone and unlock it for the buyer in advance, you will be able to charge a justifiable higher premium.

…In other words, keep reading iDB for tips and subscribe to our RSS feed if you haven’t done so already. That way, you can stay up to date with the latest and best ways to jailbreak, unlock, and maintain your iPhone!

Those were my tips to keep the iPhone water cycle flowing, now what about you? Got any additional tips to add to the list? Let us know.

  • Yonk

    Great post, very interesting reading! A good way to always have the latest iPhone available, without paying too much. You can look at it as upgrading your iPhone for a smaller fee 🙂

  • Burge

    After you contrat ends you can normally get the phone unlocked from your network provider…that’s even better than using Ultrasnow unlock..and adds more cash to the price if a iPhone …it will work with any carrier and all that’s needed from time to time is a new jailbreak for new iOSs

    • Z

      Hey bud, would that work with AT&T? I’m almost done with my sentence lol

      • Burge

        Give it a go , what have you got to loose ? It can be done… Z where in USA are you because these little chats take a long time …lol…

    • I’m not sure you can do that in the US. That’d be interesting to find out

      • Burge

        It can be done in the UK…when your contract ends …I’ve done it…what do you have to loose ! Just let them that the sale of old phone is going to pay for new phone but the buyer is on other network

  • @LappyGirl

    This is exactly what I’ve done. Got the first on in ’07 & used the profit from selling to buy the 3G, then 3GS. When I sold my 3GS, I was able to make enough to buy an iPhone 4 for myself AND one for my husband. 🙂

  • Blah

    I’m not sure I agree with the ‘Avoid Ebay’. I’ve sold a bunch of phones on Ebay and a few on Craigslist. The problem with Craigslist is that everyone is looking for the ‘big score’ and are expecting prices well below current market value. Ebay, while it charges fees, has an endless supply of potential buyers. Those shopping on ebay are looking for a phone, not for a ‘big score’. Do the math yourself. Its easy to figure out the going rate on Ebay and figure you will lose around 10% in ebay/Paypal fees.

  • Leo

    I don’t think #5 will help since the unlocks and jailbreaks are so easily done most people will know how to do it in which many people would rather buy it apple and jailbreak or unlock it themselves

    • tom

      Because we know how to jailbreak ( thanks to this blog of course!), we tend to think that everyone else are willing to. Yes, some people may know but are not willing to take the risk because they don’t have the confidence, or fear of losing at least $ 600.

    • Takean

      That’s where you are wrong. Most people still don’t know about it or think it is very dangerous to do and would be easier to buy one for more already done than to do it themselves. I have been amazed at how many I have sold to people that knew nothing about it or didn’t want to risk it themselves. Even going so far as to paying me to do it for them. You would be surprised at the volume of ignorance on the subject of jailbreaking…even still after all these years, not just iPhones but for psp’s, etc.

      • Greg

        I’m working on a cruise ship, and jailbreaking and unlocking made me furtune! I got my iphone 4 because of this. And im the only one doing this in a 86,000 ton ship. So i will say ppl dont know much abt it, and they are really amaze of what jailbreak and unlock can do to thier iphones!

    • Hades

      Hey, jailbreak is tip #1 on the list. The key there is the preservation of unlock capability and not the jailbreak itself (which is just a prerequisite for the unlock). So i think tip no. 1 is just as important.

  • I must say…You have done a great job:-)

  • Leo

    #1i mean

  • yonk

    lol, why do you start with tip 5?

    • T-Mizzle

      I think it’s like a top 5 count down, from least importance to most.

  • pn2bade

    how about save our shsh even if we don’t jailbreak?

  • Oliverf

    I sold my 2G (unlocked/jailbroken) about a year ago on eBay for $250. Best of all, someone did the ‘buy it now’ within 20 seconds of me listing it. Fastest sale ever!!!

  • Alax

    Great post! Although it may sound like a no brainer, you’d be surprised how many people want to sell their phones, but don’t know that keeping it in mint shape helps with resale value!!!

  • icyhotonmynuts

    Because it’s a count down of course! To the #1 tip. lol
    Useless. You only start at the highest number if you’re calling it a “top 5”, which it’s not. Silly iDB.
    To me this write up is just common sense. To keep a good resale value, you keep the item in question in good condition. People have been doing it with antiques for YEARS. Comic books, anyone? Do people treat their phones like shit (yes, I know they do) and then expect a high resale value? Really?

  • One more suggestion, you should not only cover the front and back with protector, but the side around the iPhone also. Yes, there are several brands of protector which will cover the side for you. The newer your iphone looks, the more money you can get.

  • Brandon

    Why is there a white iPhone 4 on the box?

  • John

    Yeah, sold my 3GS for $400!

  • Zagg & Apple bumper is my best friend, I got my iPhone 4 on June 23 2010 thanks to pre order & the next day my Zagg arrived. I had Best Buy install it & it is still in mint condition even through a couple of small drops. Friday I took my Nephews xmas gift (iPod Touch 4g) to get the Zagg replaced & it still looks as beautiful as launch day.

    The unlock idea is really important to fetch higher price but I have to admit it is a royal pain in the backside. I was never able to upgrade to iOS 4.1 because my ISP blocks port 80 & I couldn’t use tiny umbrella without an open port 80 to upgrade my i4 to 4.1 so I am still on 4.0.1 with the original 1.59.00 base bands until the dev team unlocks the new base bands. So I am not even getting to enjoy the full i0S experience because I wanna keep the unlock.

    Think next year I am gonna make a road trip my iPhone buddies to Canada & get a factory unlocked iPhone with the money I make from the resale of the iPhone 4.

  • Wish I could edit the comment.

    My 2 suggestions that the author missed would be

    1. consider using the resale value to invest in Factory Unlocked iPhone from Canada if you can

    2. Something I have done since upgrading from the 2G to the 3G get a replacement phone sometime in the year even if it is a cheap crappy phone to use & SELL YOUR iPhone 4/3G S in Mid May & use the replacement phone for about a month…. Waiting to June Announcement of iPhone 5 WILL CAUSE THE MARKET TO FLOOD & SUPPLY WILL BE HIGHER THEN DEMAND CAUSING THE RESALE VALUE TO DROP BECAUSE OF THE RUSH OF USED PHONES ON THE MARKET & SELLERS WANTING THE BARE PRICE NEEDED TO UPGRADE.

    • #2 is a really good point… Definitely agree with this.

  • joseph

    i almost sold my five mo. old phone as a trade in on some other phone because i had it out with att, i bought out my contract decided to try to jailbreak/unlock myself. i felt like throwing the phone against the wall many times. i didn’t care if i bricked it or not, but with patience and READING CAREFULLY what these amazing people wrote, i was able to accomplish what i set out to do. at this point i would rather slam it on the ground than sell our hard work! idk, it’s just me!

  • joshi

    and now give us tips for selling the unlockable i4 bb !!!=))

  • oli

    I totally appreciate that the article is intended for those whose priority is to try and save as much money as possible, by preserving the phone today in order to sell it for a better price tomorrow. I think though there should be a ‘caveat’ at the end of the article, inviting such people to possibly reconsider their priorities;) After all, buying the phone is not a business for most of us, most of us usually buy the phone to use it and to enjoy it. Today. While it lasts. What if you get run over tomorrow?? Who cares then how much the phone will sell for?:)

    I understand things are a bit different for those who do not care about the aesthetics of the phone at all, and buy the phone only because of the internal hardware. Then it makes good sense for them to hide the phone in cases etc to preserve it for the resale. But majority of people – and I think this is especially true of Apple fans – they *love* the external design of their phones. And it is here when it is sad to see these people covering their phones in cases, loving the design but denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy it…

    • Kevin

      I know this old bro but if you look @ Mike’s comment I think you are missing the point. Most People like to resell their iPhone to get a decent return to upgrade to the new version year after year. In Mikes case he will try & get $500 on eBay if it is unlocked & in mint condition like he states then of course he can. Then if he goes to Canada for an unlocked iPhone he only has to drop $300 out of pocket for $800 32GB. It basically makes it the same as upgrading for $299 for 32G on AT&T. However he would actually have to Pay $499 to upgrade to 32GB iPhone if he used his full discount on the iPhone 4.

      Apple Fans want the latest iPhone every year & making $350-$500 makes dropping $499 to upgrade 1 & $299 to upgrade the next year less painful on the wallet.