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What to do with your old iPhone

Joel Mathis | Sept. 3, 2014
We're just days away from Apple's next media event, which will in all likelihood introduce the company's next iPhone. While we may spend the week fantasizing over potential new features, there are some practical issues to take into account, too: What are you going to do with your old phone?

Given the amount of legwork that goes into checking up on resellers, you may find it easier to sell your unwanted iPhone yourself, either through Craigslist or eBay. It could be more financially rewarding, too, as you can set your own price.

It's also a good idea to do an online checkup on the companies offering to buy your iPhone to see which ones have good reputations and which have a string of unsatisfied customers. Start by checking with the Better Business Bureau website. eBay, Gazelle, NextWorth, and YouRenew are all accredited with the organization; is not — and BBB says that the website's parent company, Laptop & Desktop Repair, LLC., has been the subject of more than 400 complaints in the last three years. "According to complaints in BBB files, consumers allege the business obtains their interest by offering a high quote online and then lowering the quote upon the business' receipt of the electronic device," the bureau says. Sellers beware.

Pass it along

This maybe doesn't have the same allure in recent years, as anyone can pick up a last-generation iPhone directly from Apple itself for free. (For another week, at least, that free model is an 8GB iPhone 4s.)

But your old iPhone can still make a nice hand-me-down for some folks, or kids getting their first real phone — and not just as an iPod touch. Before handing off the phone, however, make sure that your lucky recipient really wants to take on a two-year commitment with a wireless carrier.

If you're handing off the phone before your two-year agreement is up, you'll want to get free of your obligation to it. That can mean paying early termination frees to shed your responsibility — generally in the range of $325 to $350, minus $10 for every month of contract fulfilled, but not necessarily. (You can call AT&T or Verizon to hand off your contract to a friend; contact your carrier for guidance on transferring service to the new owner.) Sprint also has a website where you can start the change of ownership process with relative ease.

Clean it up

No matter how you sell or repurpose your old iPhone, you'll want to make sure that the phone is stripped of any personal data before it leaves your hands. Most importantly, disable the "Find My iPhone" feature and your iCloud account from Settings > iCloud; if you don't, your phone may prove inoperable for resellers and new users.

From there, it's fairly easy to erase all your data from your phone: Just go to Settings > General > Reset, and touch the Erase All Content and Settings button. You'll also want to guarantee you've backed up all the data on the device first, so that you can restore it to your new phone. Don't forget to back it up first, though, so you can restore the settings to your new phone if you desire.


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