The world has shifted Apple fans, and the new iPhone 6 is out. Everyone is excited about the new tech, but potential buyers and current iPhone users will face a choice after they decide whether they want to upgrade; “What do I do with my current iPhone?” Our phones are increasingly the center of our daily lives and hold everything from personal appointments to our banking information, so what you do decide to do with your old phone is critical.
The good news is current owners of the iPhone have a number of options. First, they can take advantage of their cellular carrier’s buy-back program if they offer one. This is straightforward and can offer some security since you can hold a corporation responsible if they mishandle your information, but you will generally have to accept less than market value for your current phone. Second, you can pass along your phone to family or friends who would like an iPhone. This won’t get you much cash, but it offers a lot of security, since you can hand-pick who you’re handing your personal information to. Your last option is a re-sale of the phone to a stranger, which offers the greatest potential for profit, but also the least amount of security. So the question is, how do you erase all of your personal data before passing that iPhone along to someone else?
Do You Still Have Your iOS Device?
Before you list your old iPhone on eBay, follow these steps to protect your data and return your device to the factory settings:
- Back up your device: Before you reset your phone, make sure to backup all the data.
- Go to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings: This process erases your device and turns off iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Game Center and other services. This is critical, since Apple keeps redundant copies of your information outside of the device itself, and you need to notify these services that your AppleId should be disassociated from the device. (NOTE: If you’re using iOS 7 or later and have Find My iPhone turned on, provide your password and remove the device from your account so the next owner can activate it.)
- Contact your carrier: Depending on your carrier, there may be other software you need to disconnect from your phone in order to ensure that your information has been completely removed from the device.
Did You Sell Your iOS Device Without Erasing the Information?
If you didn’t reset your iPhone before selling or giving it away, there’s no need to panic. There are still some things you can do:
- Ask the new owner for help: It seems simplistic, but you can contact the new owner to erase all content and settings as described above for you. It may not work for a number of reasons, but it’s worth considering.
- Use iCloud and Find My iPhone: If you activated Find My iPhone on the device, you can erase the device remotely and remove it from your account by signing in to iCloud, selecting the device and selecting the Erase option. When the device has been erased, click on Remove from Account.
- Change your AppleId and password: If you are unable to reach the new owner and you did not activate Find My iPhone, make sure you change your AppleId and password. Your personal information will not be changed if it’s already stored elsewhere, but it will ensure that the new owner is unable to access or tamper with any of the information in your iCloud account.
The good news is that whatever option you choose, Apple has tools in place to make the transfer of your old iPhone safe. Just make sure to take advantage of them!