Selling or trading in your iPhone? You need to factory reset it first

It's an important step that could keep your personal information safe.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Getting rid of your old iPhone? Make sure you reset it properly. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Buying a new phone can be exciting, especially if you got the iPhone 13, iPhone 12 or one of the great Android phones available right now. But before you can celebrate, you'll have to take care of that old iPhone first. If it's still in working order, there are several options to consider. You can trade it in to save some cash, sell it to a random stranger, or repurpose it. However, there's still some work that needs to be done before you sell or trade in your old iPhone. 

Read more: Here's how to get the new iPhone 13 for a fraction of the price

Before you can even begin to think about giving your phone to someone else, you need to take some time to wipe and reset it to factory settings. Doing so will ensure that nobody has access to the treasure trove of personal information we all keep on our phones. Below, I'll walk you through steps you need to take before resetting your phone, and I'll show you the reset process.

Stop! You need to back up your iPhone before doing anything else

Before you reset your iPhone, create a backup that you can use to set up your new iPhone, and which you can return to if you're missing contacts or photos on your new phone. You can back up your iPhone by connecting it to your Mac and following these steps, or use iTunes on a PC to back it up. 

Alternatively, you can use iCloud to back up your phone by going to Settings > tap on your name at the top of the page > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back up now. This backup method can take a while, depending on how long it's been since you've backed up your phone, but it's dead simple. 

Just make sure to keep your phone connected to a Wi-Fi network and on a charger to prevent the backup from draining the battery. 


Back up your iPhone before doing anything else. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

After the backup is complete, here are a few more things you should do:

  • Sign out of all apps and services. It's time-consuming but worth the effort to go through each app and service you're signed into and log out.
  • Remove any email, contacts or calendar accounts from your device in Settings > Mail/Contacts/Calendar > Accounts
  • If you haven't already, remove your SIM card. If your new phone came with a new SIM card, destroy your old one and throw it away. If you've been using an eSIM, make sure you remove or deactivate it

Resetting your iPhone only takes a few taps. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

All right, now you can reset your iPhone

With your phone backed up and all of your accounts removed, factory reset it by opening the Settings app. Then tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings and confirm your decision. You'll be asked to enter your phone's PIN code, followed by your Apple ID password to turn off Apple's Find My service.

After entering your password, the screen will go dark and the Apple logo along with a progress bar will show up. A few minutes later, you'll be greeted with a screen with "Hello" in different languages flashing on it, indicating the reset was a success. 

With your phone now wiped and ready for a new owner, you can send it on its way with peace of mind that your information is no longer on your phone. 

As for your new phone, here are 15 settings you should change right away, along with some hidden features in iOS 14 that are worth checking out. You can also check out Apple's new operating system, iOS 15. Still trying to figure out what to do with your old phone? Give these ideas some thought.