Tutorial: How to Sell your iPhone Online

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It’s iPhone upgrade season. With the deluge of iPhone 3G rumors convincing just about everyone that now might be a good time to dump the old phone, in anticipation of getting one of the new models, here’s a tutorial to help you sell your iPhone safely, and get the best price.

Decide when to sell.

You’re not the only one who’s thinking about this. On the run-up to WWDC more and more iPhones are going to be hitting the market which will likely dilute prices somewhat. Balance that against selling your iPhone now, and the risk of new one’s not being released on June 9th. A few weeks after the announcement, expect prices to re-stabilize, as the sudden flood of upgrader phones diminishes.

Wipe your old phone.

Go to: -> Settings/General/Reset/Erase all Content and Settings, to do a cursory wipe. Although recent stories about data being recovered off old iPhones has some people worried. For the paranoid, a more comprehensive guide to wiping your iPhone is located here, or if your phone is jailbroken already, a better (in the terms of security) one here.

Consider Jail-breaking & Unlocking your iPhone

Used iPhones have to compete with all the new iPhones on eBay and CraigsList. A good way to differentiate yours is to jailbreak + unlock it. An unlocked iPhone will generally sell for $100.00 more than a locked one, even used. The jailbreak and unlock procedure has evolved greatly from the arcane process it used to be, you can find a beginner’s guide here.

Take good pictures, of the phone, box and all accessories.

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Snap at least 4 pictures of the phone, plus one of the phone and all included accessories. If your phone has any damage at all, including scratches, mention them in your description, and use Photoshop to draw a circle around them, or something to highlight them in the photos. Remember: it is better to be overly honest, especially on eBay.

Short Auctions / Low reserve auctions are better

Who wants to wait five to seven days to see if you’ve won. We live in an instant gratification culture, and it’s a truth, that short auctions with very low opening bids and reserve prices will do better. But don’t take my word for it, put a couple of iPhones on your watch list. See which ones sell for the most, fastest. I always start all of my auctions at a dollar, with no reserve, the beauty of eBay is that it responds nicely to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, things generally sell for what they’re worth.

Sell to Canada, Western Europe

Expand your market by selling outside the US, you’ll increase dramatically the number of potential buyers. Caveat: Play it safe, stick to Western Europe, and Canada.

Avoid Getting Scammed

Craigslist has got a great faq on how to avoid scams. While some of it is specific to CL, much of it applies to all auction & listing sites, you can review it here.

As with all things, nothing beats individual research and understanding your local market. We encourage you to look at your local Craigslist listings, and watch used iPhones on eBay to see what things are selling for. Also this site can also help you value your iPhone so that it sells quickly, by giving you current market values for your region.

  • Woz

    Label this “Idiots Guide to Ebay”

  • Ryan Ray

    I’ve done this exact thing, over a week ago! I sold my 4GB for $300, quite a steal. It’s on my website

  • Ryan Ray

    I’ve done this exact thing, over a week ago! I sold my 4GB for $300, quite a steal. It’s on my website

  • Duncan

    What, and Australia isn’t safe?

  • Dan

    Selling to Australia is always a safe bet too!

  • malcolm

    Also, don’t rule out australia as a possible destination to ship to. Paypal, and many other legitimate, safe methods can be used when selling/shipping to Australia, and obviously there is no language barrier to overcome.

  • bob

    what about the sim? do you keep it for the 3G phone ? how do you get a virgin sim for the old one if you dont wish to unlock?

  • Art Gonzalez

    Guys a suggestion is to try to sell your iphone to countries like Costa Rica where they are becoming very popular. People unlock them and use them with the local carrier. There are several websites from which you can do this.

    Take care,

    Art Gonzalez
    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

  • lajka

    Smart. Eastern Europeans are all criminals, right?
    Do they have GSM network at all?

    Just a tip for the brave ones:
    you can get higher prices in Eastern Europe. It’s not because we steal money. It’s because we can’t get it at any store.
    And after all, eBay has a feedback system to decide who is trusted and who don’t.

  • leigh

    @bob: as with other GSM phones, you keep the SIM Card, i believe

  • leigh

    @Ausies: Sorry… Australia, New Zealand, great places to market your phone!

  • Multinova

    Thanks for linking to my article :)
    grz,
    Multinova
    iphonefreakz.com

  • leigh

    @lajka:Proshu Vas Pozhalujsta
    Prostite menya! Mne ochen’ zhal’

  • Andy

    I am sure that Australia is also a safe market to sell you iPhone

  • Ujaas

    I sold mine on ebay.

    used 8GB phone for $490 incl shipping to Italy.

    (bought it for $350 new)

  • Oscar

    What is going to happen with the 2-year commitment contract with AT&T in US?
    Can I replace the new iPhone with no charge?
    Please advice, I think I’m more concerned about this possibles charges than for paying for the new one.

  • leigh

    @Oscar: Buying another phone will not break your contract (assuming you remain with AT&T). You will not, however be able to get any subsidies (ie discounts) for your new phone until your contract expires.

    Question to the group: Did AT&T make people sign service contracts when they bought their iphone even through they didn’t subsidize them? That seems just GOOFY… no way would I sign a service contract for a phone they didn’t subsidize.

  • Charlie

    so keep the Sim card when you send it out? I assume the unlock/jailbreak then is on the iPhone’s HD, and not through the Sim card?

  • Daniel

    Of course they made people sign contracts, that was the point really. Hence why Apple looses money on unlocked phones, no kickbacks. For existing AT&T customers the phone service contract was not extended so you were ok. But, they tagged on a different contract requiring 2 years of iPhone data service. So this basically is like extending the phone service but in a way that some overlooked when they bought. At least in the case of my service contract, there is an early termination fee if I were to discontinue iPhone data service. No word on how much, even after talking to AT&T, but they estimated that it was the same as regular phone contracts at $175. Even the AT&T rep was even surprised, she had not heard of it but read the fine print and confirmed it after initially identifying my account as “out of contract period” and able to be terminated.

    After talking for some time to both Apple and AT&T folks, I recommend everyone watches out for discontinuing service. In order to sell your phone and then add a “upgraded” iPhone back in to the account without a penalty, you need to keep the data package active even if not used.

    The good news is it is easier to remove the iPhone included sim card. Simply put it in to any other AT&T cell and you will not be without a phone while you wait in line for the 3G iPhone. My old RAZR works great, text, voice mail and all. This is important if it will truly take until the 18th to start distributing as some are reporting. Also important if you need to unload your iPhone before the news hits any more main stream channels and kills the gen 1 market. For now I am looking at getting about $350-375 for my 8 gig iPhone. That is in Southern California and the phone is in factory condition (ie: not jailbroken) with minor ware on the back. I am unloading it today to avoid any price drops that will likely take place in the coming days. Looks like I am back on a standard phone for the time being, I hope I can handle it mentally…

  • Oscar

    This new price for G3 is not helping us to sell the 1st generation iPhone anyway.
    Oscar

  • L Knight

    AT&T didn’t extend my contract at all for my iPhone. I have been with them for over 10 years, so chances are they didn’t expect me to jump ship…or maybe they just overlooked it, I dunno. But I called them after I had my iphone for a while and asked them I was put into a new 2 year contract and they told me no.

    Doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, I plan on sticking with them regardless.

  • Paul

    Another safe place to sell your iPhone online is iResQ. They will take iPhones in any condition, even broken.
    You can get a quote by filling out a purchase form at:

    http://www.iresq.com/iphone/ip

    Just thought I’d pass this along, should anybody want an alternative to eBay or Craigslist. Hope it helps.

  • Michael Turturro

    Check out UsedPhone2Cash.com
    I’ve used them before, it was really quick service, but I doubt youre getting $300 for a 4gb iphone.

  • Bewoop Blog

    Really nice. I have my old phones recycled through http://cycledcells.com if I cannot sell it online anymore.

  • Wiliam

    Almost 40 years computers were stepping into our houses. At first they were enormous and slow as turtles, but every year they were more and more modernized, made smaller and cleverer. As today – computers are everywhere – in your pocket as Mobile Phone, in your car as driver’s helper, at your home, work or school as irreplaceable entertaining, work or learning tool. Of course, computing technologies never were cheap, so not everyone was able to purchase one or another electronics device, especially in poor Countries.

    All these 40 years technicians and engineers were working hard to satisfy the customers – end user of one or another kind of electronics device. As a result, we have dozens of different gadgets – mobile phones, computers, laptops, etc. And what’s more stranger – we’re willing to get the newer and faster or smaller device. In that case, the old electronics we’re not using anymore are kept at closets or garages, without any purpose. Besides – it’s ecological problem too. Some of the materials that computers or mobile phones are made from are noxious; other’s decay time is very long.

    Our goal is to make all these problems as smaller as possible. We‘re willing to buy Your old or unnecesary electronics and, if it functions, to sell them for people at poor countries for smaller price, that everyone could be more happy as possible – You‘d get some extra money instead of mummyfying the gadget in the closet or garage, so the poor boy could buy cheap laptop for school.

    And if the device isn‘t functional – http://www.recycleyourdevice.com could happily collect it from You for responsable utilization. All you need to do – ship us the non-functional or unusable device. That will quarantee, that Nature will be less abandoned and you‘ll be able to breath more clearly air, cach more fish at rivers or sea, see more birds in the sky, feel more healthy, so more happy everyday – and that‘s not all what makes Ecology!

  • Joshua Paul Boram

    As we all know, prices change. You are right your original offer is higher. Is there any other questions or concerns we should look at here??? i personally think so. Just because someone offers a higher price, doesn’t mean you will really get the CASH for that higher amount. The best thing about http://www.CashitGadget.com is that we will NOT bait and switch you like some other companies i have heard do, instead we have a PRICE-LOCK that will GUARANTY your price granted for a long period of time, even after you have gone through the process, ensuring that you can keep the price we said! I am not pointing fingers at any individual buyer, but some i have found many times will bait you with a HIGH PRICE, then SWITCH PRICES after an “intensive-evaluation” on your iPhone’s “actual value” What we do here at http://CashitGadget.com is offer you a price that we can honestly stand by. That is what has given us the market lead in buying iPhones, electronics and Smartphones. You can also check our Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/Cashit…. We also do a lot of local business in the town of Eugene. If you find yourself in Eugene Oregon, feel free to stop in and say hi!

    oh and another thing that sets us apart from the other “competitors” is that we let you ship it, but we PAY YOU BACK in full for the shipping charges that you paid on your shipping label! if you look at that, we just beat the other competition, would you say?

    http://www.CashitGadget.com – Best Service – Free Shipping – Price-Lock

  • Joshua Paul Boram

    http://www.CashitGadget.com offers a great price, and they are trustworthy, and have recycled thousands of iPhones, and paid a FAIR price for each, with no baiting and switching like i have seen other websites do.  check them out!

  • Karen Evans

    Great post huh! Very helpful. I just like to share my experience in selling my iphone on http://www.cashforiphones.com. They really have a great service and they offer great deal for my iPhone. They buy my iphone 3gs for  $206. It is very safe to sell any of your gadget their, seriously.

  • francescunnigham

    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!

  • Wherwel

    Can’t help but give in to the 8 megapixel camera of the new iPhone 4S.
    I’m ditching my iPhone 3GS 16 GB for $171. I can’t believe that Cash for
    iPhones is offering me this much considering that my device is OLD.  Turns out that iPhones do have a high resale
    value compared to other smart phones – I’d say it’s worth the money I spent 2
    years ago!

  • hannacun

    Cash for iPhones is offering me $294 for my iPhone 4 16GB AT&T but
    I’m thinking if I should sell it on eBay and put up with the waiting. Pre-order
    starts this October 7 already and I’m hoping for quicker cash. I wonder which
    option is faster in terms of getting rid of my old iPhone?

  • tytankuna

    I compared all the different solutions to sell my iPhone and I found
    http://www.sellmyi.ca to be highest paying out there. I tried selling my iPhone on eBay
    but then you are left with people not paying and all that. At sell-my-i they
    give you a guaranteed offer and beat any competitor as well so you can’t go
    wrong, I got the most cash for my iPhone 4 from sellmyi.ca. They gave me around
    $325.

  • Kenneth Tique

     Cash for iPhones is offering me $294 for my iPhone 4 16GB AT&T but
    I’m thinking if I should sell it on eBay and put up with the waiting. Pre-order
    starts already and I’m hoping for quicker cash. I wonder which option is faster
    in terms of getting rid of my old iPhone?

  • Youngelects

    Brand new Apple® – iPhone 4 S with 64GB Memory and Apple Ipad 2 64gGB with wifi-3g this are factory unlocked with Complete accessories (Well packed and sealed in original company box) and can be used with any network provider of your choice Email: (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)for more information

  • Olatunji Sanusi

    Where can I sell my used or broken iPhone?

    First, you need to decide where to sell it. There are many popular places online like eBay and craigslist but you’re in for a competition here. If you simply search you will see many results on the popular sites.

    One good alternative is http://www.sellmyi.ca, they have been around for quite some time now and pay a decent amount for iPhones. If you want to sell your iPhone you can simply go to their website and get a free-no-obligation quote.

    Once you receive your quote you can either accept the offer or decline it, their offers are usually pretty good. Sellmyi.ca pays the most cash from my experience. They also pay for all the shipping and they use FedEx with tracking numbers.

    The process is really simple as well.

    Sell-My-i sends you the box with a shipping label attached to it for free, all you have to do is put your iPhone in it and drop it off at FedEx and everything is handled there on.

    They also have the most number of ways to get paid. PayPal, Cheque, Bank Transfer and Interac e-Mail money transfer (currently only available in Canada) all other methods are available in United States and Canada.

    I have tried listing my products on craigslist and eBay before and with both I have lost money and wasted time. craigslist or kijiji are both good places to find stuff but when it comes to selling something you are left with people not showing up and bargaining, its just not worth it but at sellmyi.ca they guarantee their offer and guarantee to pay the most for a used or broken iPhone.

    Another good alternative and very easy method is to go to the AppStore and download the “sell my i” app. It’s free. This app will automatically detect the type of iPhone you are using and it will give you an instant no obligation quote. Its free and you can sell your iPhone in minutes. It can’t get any easier, faster or better than this.

    Visit http://www.sellmyi.ca today to sell your used or broken iPhone for the most cash.

  • Francheska Morris

    I’ve found a site that pays more than all these mentioned above. It’s http://www.sellmyi.ca

    iPhone 4 up to $325.00
    iPhone 3GS up to $180.00
    iPhone 3G up to $100.00

    They’ve also got an app on the AppStore it’s called “sell my i” it automatically detects your iPhone and gives you and instant quote, it’s the fastest and easiest way to sell your iPhone!

  • natasha kabalish

    PAYPAL ACCEPTED . IPHONE 4S USA VERSION FACTORY UNLOCKED 16gb at 620$ ( bulk price) contact at (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address) 

  • Big_Fudge

    I sold mine through iPhonesIntoCash.com. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and how simple the process was. I highly recommend them!

About the author

Leigh McMullen

Leigh McMullen leads the Advisory Services & Strategy practices for the professional services arm of one of the Big-Five firms. He has written several books that would cure any insomnia you might have, and is an avid Mac junkie.

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