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.
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.