How to Get Your iPhone 4 Ready for Resale

By , Sep 22, 2011

So, you’ve heard that Apple is announcing a new iPhone very soon. Now what? It’s time to sell your current iPhone, of course!

There are many ways to resale your used iPhone 4 to make some extra cash, and we’ll show you everything you need to know to get your iPhone ready for its new owner…

Step 1: Backup and Restore

Before you do anything, you want to plug your iPhone into iTunes and backup your data. Once you’ve synced with iTunes, you want to restore iOS to the latest version. This can be done on your iPhone’s device Summary page. If you’re jailbroken, you’ll need to restore in iTunes to un-jailbreak your iPhone.

Restoring your iPhone to its factory settings will remove your personal data. You can also wipe your device clean in the Settings app. Navigate to General > Reset. Tap Reset and then “Erase All Content and Settings.” Depending on your device, this could take awhile, as iOS must literally wipe itself byte by byte. Make sure you’ve got a full charge or plug into a power source.

When you’ve restored to the latest version of iOS and removed your personal data, you’re ready to proceed.

Step 2: Take Care of Your SIM Card

You never want to sell your iPhone with your SIM card. The SIM card is yours, and it’s associated with your phone number and carrier information.

The AT&T iPhone 4 has a MicroSIM that is super easy to remove. Older iPhones don’t use a MicroSIM, so be aware of that. On an AT&T iPhone, just pop the SIM out (if you don’t know how to take your SIM out, refer to this tutorial). You can pop the MicroSIM into your next iPhone, and AT&T will even take care of that in the store for you.

On a Verizon iPhone, things get more tricky. Because you don’t technically have a SIM to remove, you need to either activate a new phone on your account or call Verizon and ask the carrier to deactivate the iPhone for you. If you’re selling your current iPhone in anticipation of the next generation model, then activating a new phone is not really an option. However, if you have a cheap CDMA phone lying around, you could temporarily activate it on your Verizon account while you wait for the next iPhone.

Step 3: Clean Your iPhone

Now that you’ve cleaned up your iPhone software-wise, it’s important to make sure that your iPhone is also spotless on the outside. If your iPhone has a few dings and scratches, don’t fret. You probably won’t get as high of a resale value, but many resellers and buyers don’t care about a few minor scratches. Just make sure to be honest when describing the condition of your iPhone.

Apple has a great support article about how to properly clean its products. For the iPhone, use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth to clean dirt and grime off the device’s surface. It’s best to turn your iPhone off before you clean, just in case you get too much moisture in an opening.

Apple says to not use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean an iPhone. It’s recommended to just use a dry cleaning cloth. Mobile Cloth offers some very good, affordable cleaning cloths for gadgets like the iPhone. If you want to use some sort of cleaner, make sure to not directly apply the liquid to the device.

Step 3: Get Your Packaging Together

You did keep your iPhone’s original packaging, didn’t you? Assuming that you did, find and collect the packaging to sell alongside your iPhone. Buyers like it when a used iPhone comes in the original packaging because it says that the previous owner took care of the device.

If you’re posting your iPhone on a site like Craigslist or eBay, then presentation is important. Assemble your iPhone next to its original packaging and take a nice set of pictures to post online. You should include the charger, manuals, etc. If you used the Apple earbuds, then don’t bother including those. People don’t usually want used earbuds.

If you don’t have your iPhone’s original packaging, then head over to your local US Post Office. There will be some fairly inexpensive packaging options available. If that doesn’t cut it, then places like UPS have a spray-in material that will mold itself to the shape of your item.

Jailbreaking and Unlocking

If you want to unlock your iPhone before you resale, then see our unlock page to learn more. Unlocked iPhones can typically sell for $100 more on sites like Craigslist. Selling a jailbroken iPhone 4 could also result in a higher resale value. If you’ve got an untethered jailbreak on iOS 4.3.3, then you may want to consider keeping that jailbreak as added value. Things can get hairy when you’re trying to sell a jailbroken, unlocked iPhone on the used market, so consider that as an option if you’re comfortable with what you’re doing.

Stay tuned for a follow-up on the best places to resell your used iPhone!

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  • Daniel

    “Take care of your sim card” is this advice for children? everyone knows this!

    • Michelle

      Apparently because I have a question on this… I have an iPhone 4S Verizon w/ sim card that I want to sell, I already switched everything over to an iPhone 5. Do I still need to take out the sim card or can I just reset the phone and sell?

  • Seannyx

    You’d be suprised.

    • Steve

      lol indeed

  • http://www.altonjsupport.net Alt

    Nice. Everything in this article is exactly what I planned on doing. Should also include that targeting Tmobile customers would usually go for more as well.

  • http://www.TrenPenn.com Jj

    At my repair shop over half the people who have an iPhone don’t even know there is a sim card. Much less know how to remove it. People Are idiots every single day these idiots call me asking how much to fix this problem or that. I ask what kind of phone is it. There response ? It’s a tmobile phone. Ok what kind? It’s a touch screen. Whats the fucking brand and model idiot? I don’t know. How long have u had the phone? Over a year. So you have had your phIne for over a year and u can’t tell me what it is? No sorry. Ok well get a fucking clue and then call me back u fckinh stupid idiot.

    • Yermama

      even yer mama doesnt know who poked her when you were born

    • Michael

      Where do you work? I want to make absolutely sure myself or anybody I know is warned to never ever spend a dime at a business that would employ someone with your attitudes who is stupid enough to post them online.

      • matt

        you’ve obviously never worked with the public. the consumer truly is stupid. people are getting more demanding and the sense of entitlement coming from these people is outrageous. apparently this guy is talking to the customer the way he is telling the story. i’m just like the person above in that i have no patience for stupidity and sadly there is a LOT of that out there these days. simply put none of us are psychic or mind readers. when you call for something know what you want because i sure as shit won’t know.

        example: calling me and leaving a voicemail requesting a medication refill. problem? you don’t tell me your name, dob, phone #, name of medication. i’m supposed to help you how?

        just because you are the customer does NOT mean you are always right. i’m a customer daily and i know i’m not always right…the difference is i don’t feel entitled so i can see it and acknowledge it.

      • http://www.TrenPenn.com Jj

        Matt us correct. No I don’t speak to my customers that way. I sure think it though. It just makes no sense. How can you have a phone and not know what it is? Then y did u buy it. ? Have u never bought a case or a charger for it? So you can’t tell me what phone you have. And yet you wante to tell you the price to fix it? When u call the mechanic do you also tell him you don’t know what car you drive? I need a make and model and a problem before I can tell you a price. Calling me and saying ” ya I have a phone that broke. Can you tell me how much you charge” is no help at all to me.

    • Rick

      @Jj What horrible customer service you must have at your shop in Dallas. You even linked the site to your name!

      I hope people find your post when they looking for electronics repairs. You just told them all they need to hear to look elsewhere.

  • Ty

    Keeping my iPhone 4 as a backup… I think.

  • Kuf

    Nice article, Looking for a cheap used iPhone 4(unlock on lock) as soon as possible. Anyone selling??? Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Michael_McLean Michael McLean

    Alex Heath, I love you.

  • Dan L

    I presume that every iPhone 4 is still under contract; what provisions is ATT (or the other companies) likely to grant for transferring, nullifying, or otherwise dealing with current contracts in the event that a current iPhone 4 owner upgrades to an iPhone 5?

    • soccerkrzy

      When the 4 came out, they made it so you could early renew within a year of your contract’s expiration. I reckon they’ll do something similar.

    • jgns

      I am currently eligible to upgrade, have been since July. If the line your iphone is on generates over $100/mo, you can upgrade at 1 year into a 2 year agreement. Otherwise, you wait til 18 mo or 2 years.

  • http://www.apple.com Steve Jobs

    “Stay tuned for a follow-up on the best places to resale your used iPhone!”

    resell your used iPhone.

    Good article!

  • Takean

    I just sold my 32gb iPad 2 for $845 because it was jailbroken and the buyer liked that I kept the original packaging, including the plastic wrapping that goes around the wall plug and USB wire. :) so it’s like I got to play with it for 4 months and then make money off of it :)

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Haha, nicely done. Congrats :)

      • Takean

        Thx. I was quite impressed. I put it up that high on craigslist to haggle from but the guy out right bought it. Said he was afraid to try and “hack” it himself. Oh well, laziness for the win I guess…for me :)

  • Ken

    Thinking of selling my iPhone 4 The button is getting a little unresponsive. It’s 9 months old. Does Apple have some type of test to determine if phone can be replaced or is it just up to some Apple Genius?

  • Will

    As a matter in fact, today i sold my iPhone 4. Been having it since day one. i took care of it, no scratches. Except for one detail,lol, my phone wouldn’t charge anymore and the home button was unresponsive, it was frustrating . Seems like my charging port got mest up. So I noted that on my description on craigslist, and sold it for $280. Went to AT&T and bought a white iphone 4, so meanwhile, I could wait for the next generation device, I have until the 22nd of October to return it so it better come out ! lol, if not I’ll still return it and wait out until it comes out !

  • Dang

    to fix the unresponsive home button.
    firstly open an app, then hold the lock/unlock until the slide to power off appears, let go of lock/unlock button and hold the home button until the app closes. this re-calibrates the home button. hope this helps you guys!

  • Ethos

    ??? Older iPhones don’t use a MicroSIM ???
    all iPhones 4 HAVE MICRO SIM

  • odengerrard

    hey guys. i follow step 1. i reset the phone n it has been 7hours since that.. a friend told me, if i jailbroken my iphone, it wont reset. my iOS is 4.1.2..

    what should i do now? thanks

  • http://www.khaledscorner.com khaled

    thanks for sharing this tips

  • frances cunnigham

    Now that the iPhone 4S has a better antenna, I’m kissing my iPhone 4’s death grip goodbye. I checked out the offers for an iPhone 4 32G Verizon in mint condition and here’s what I got: $268 (Cash for iPhones), $204 (Gazelle) and $250 (Totem). Will definitely sell mine to the actual top bidder. So excited to see how Siri will blow my mind!

  • http://twitter.com/iydomngz iydomngz

    who buys me my 4s 64 gb white / 575

  • Juan Ricarte

    I want to sell my iPhone 4 (8gb). Its in great condition. I’ve kept it in an OtterBox Defender series since day 1 (December 2011). It has an untethered jailbreak. I jailbroke it myself and it runs great even with Siri installed. I know it will go for a higher price if I sell it jailbroken but everyone keeps telling me I should worry about personal info with it being jailbroken. Are there any steps I should take to sell it jailbroken or should I just restore and sell it in factory settings?

  • http://www.facebook.com/max.reynoso Max Reynoso

    i sold my iphone 4s on 5.1.1 jailbroken. but now i want to erase all my stuff and still keep it jailbroken. can anyone help me with this? thank you so much!!

    • http://twitter.com/S_Lacertosa Stefano

      Did you figure out how to clean you device while keeping the jailbreak?