Tidy up your Android phone before putting it on the block

Just upgraded to the latest, greatest Android phone? Here's how to get your old Android phone ready to sell.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell
4 min read

Watch this: Prepare your Android phone for resale

There are a lot of tempting reasons to upgrade your phone these days. In fact, here are five of them. But what do you do with your old phone?

Well, you could turn it into a dedicated media player, or perhaps recycle it. But why not try to sell it?

Selling your old Android phone can be an easy way to make a little money. But before you let it go, you'll want to make sure you've backed up any important information and deleted any trace of your personal data. So let's walk through the process.

The first step is to perform a backup. There are some one-step solutions for this. Installing an app like My Backup Pro or Titanium Backup Pro (great for rooted phones) will work to automatically collect your data and back it up to the cloud, where it can be synchronized to your new Android phone. This will account for your contacts, call logs, text messages, music playlists, photos, videos, settings, browser bookmarks, and more.

My Backup Pro
My Backup Pro is a simple backup app that provides an important service.

But to be doubly sure you've got your data backed up to a safe place, here are a few easy manual backup options.

For contacts, the most accessible and reliable place to store those is Google Contacts. It's a service that's baked right in to Gmail and Android, and it's painless to get it working.

To sync everything up, open your contacts on your phone, tap the menu key, and hit "Merge with Google." After you tap it, select Yes, and all of your contacts will be sucked into the Google account you have associated with your phone. Afterward, to confirm that your contacts made the trip to the cloud intact, find a computer and log in to Contacts.Google.com with your same Google account. Everything should be there, and if you see doubles of some contacts, check out my how-to on deduping your contacts.

Watch this: Back up your Android phone

For your media, the simplest backup method is to connect the phone to your computer and transfer all of your content to a folder. Especially if you're dealing with multiple gigabytes of photos, music, and videos, this is a lot faster than backing up to the cloud.

It should be as simple as connecting your phone to your computer using the USB cable that came with it. On a PC, it should pop up as a USB drive. Mac users may need to install a small Google app called Android File Transfer to get the same result.

All of your phone's photos and videos should be located in the DCIM folder. You can just copy that thing over to your computer, or if you have the room, why not copy the entire contents of your phone to a backup folder just in case.

Now, when you're almost ready to kiss your phone goodbye, you'll want to make sure you've removed any memory cards or SIM cards from the phone. As a precaution, first shut down the phone, then remove the cards. Memory cards are typically located either on the side of the phone or behind the battery compartment near the SIM card.

Some phones might not have a memory card slot or won't have any memory cards installed, so if you can't find anything, don't worry. The same can be true for SIM cards in older Android phones from CDMA carriers such as Sprint or Verizon. If that's the case, and there's no SIM card to pull, be sure to contact your carrier and make sure that the phone has been disassociated from your account before handing it over to someone else.

By removing the back cover of your phone, you should be able to access your SIM card, and perhaps your microSD card (shown here). CNET

Finally, let's erase the phone -- a full factory reset. Boot it up, go into your settings, and then find Back up and Reset. Some Android devices will have this under Security or Storage, so look around if you don't see it right away.

Once you're in this menu, tap the button for Factory Data Reset. This will reset the phone to its original state and delete all of the data on the device. Tap it and you'll see a warning of some kind. Remember, it's not deleting your accounts, it's just deleting any trace of you from the phone. You really don't want the next person who gets this phone to have access to your personal accounts and information. When you feel confident, hit Reset Device.

The phone will now reformat itself and restart. When it turns on again, you should see the same Welcome to Android introductory screen that was there when you first got the phone.

Once you've said your goodbyes, shut the phone down for the last time. Make one final check to make sure any SIM cards or memory cards have been removed. Clean the phone with a dry cloth. Gather up any cables or chargers that came with the phone, and if you still have the original box, that can help the resale value if you're selling this thing online.

So there you go -- that's my best advice for preparing your old Android phone to sell after you've switched to a new one. If you've taken good care of it, with any luck you'll get a little money for it. For an in-depth look at the process of selling your phone, check out Jessica Dolcourt's informative tutorial.