How to Erase Your Old iPhone Before Trading It In

If you're planning on trading in your old iPhone for a new one, there are some steps you'll want to take beforehand to ensure it's de-linked from your accessories and accounts and that everything on it is erased.


The procedures described below shouldn't take long to follow, and at the end of it you can rest assured that you have a clean iPhone reset to default factory settings and ready to trade in. Here's what to do.

Back Up Your iPhone


Before you reset, you should back up your device. You can back up your data to iCloud, but we'd advise you connect your iPhone up to a computer and perform an iTunes backup instead, just to be sure. You can find steps to back up your iPhone by clicking here.

Got an Apple Watch? Time to Unpair


If you're trading in your iPhone and have an ‌Apple Watch‌ linked to it, you're going to want to unpair it first. Here's how.

  1. Bring your iPhone and ‌Apple Watch‌ close to each other.
  2. Launch the stock Watch app on your iPhone.
  3. Tap the My Watch tab.
  4. Select the ‌Apple Watch‌ you want to unpair, then tap the info button (the encircled "I") next to it on the next screen.
    apple watch
  5. Tap Unpair ‌Apple Watch‌.
  6. Tap again to confirm.
  7. Enter your Apple ID password when prompted to turn off Activation Lock.

Deactivate Services and Log Out Manually


Erasing your iPhone deactivates Find My iPhone and logs you out of all your ‌iCloud‌ and iTunes accounts automatically – in theory. Occasionally we've heard cases of erased iOS devices still being linked to ‌Find My‌ iPhone or ‌iCloud‌ accounts.


Whatever the truth of these reports, you can always make doubly sure this won't happen by deactivating and unlinking these services yourself. To learn how to turn off ‌Find My‌ iPhone, click here. To sign out of ‌iCloud‌ and the iTunes and App Stores, launch the Settings app on your iPhone, tap on your name to open your account settings, tap Sign Out at the bottom, then enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.

How to Factory Reset Your iPhone


Now that you've backed up your iPhone and manually deactivated services and accounts, it's time to perform a factory reset of the device. These steps will guide you through the process.

  1. Unlock your iPhone or iPad and launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

  5. Tap in your passcode if requested.
  6. Enter your Apple ID password to erase the iPhone and remove it from your account.
  7. Tap Erase.
Allow the reset process to continue – it shouldn't take any longer than a couple of minutes. Once it's completed, you'll see the iOS welcome screen on your iPhone. That's your green light to trade it in.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro


Top Rated Comments

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9 weeks ago
Importantly, this guide does not mention to move your Authenticator apps (Google, Microsoft) over to the new phone before resetting the old one.
Rating: 5 Votes
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9 weeks ago

Remind me. Do I erase and deactivate my old phone before turning on the new phone?


I don't do that. What if the new phone was defective?
Rating: 1 Votes
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9 weeks ago
You should also remove your SIM before trading in just to be sure.

Don’t forget to have your Apple ID password handy outside of your phone. if you use a password app like LastPass, your app won’t be live on the new phone for a bit while you do the setup and it can be a real hassle if your phone is also your Authenticator and you have 2FA turned on but can’t get to your new phone because it needs your Apple ID password.
Rating: 1 Votes
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9 weeks ago

Importantly, this guide does not mention to move your Authenticator apps (Google, Microsoft) over to the new phone before resetting the old one.


This is super important so good call! Every iPhone I've upgraded to (with the exception of the XS) I've forgotten to transfer them and I have to go hunting around proving it's me so I can reset it. I wish there was an easier way...

https://www.lifewire.com/switch-google-authenticator-to-new-phone-4582397
Rating: 1 Votes
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9 weeks ago
I thought the only way to truly erase a device was to shred it.
Rating: 1 Votes
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9 weeks ago

Remind me. Do I erase and deactivate my old phone before turning on the new phone?

I NEVER erase my old phone until my new phone is completely setup and working fine. Also,I go through all the settings on the new phone and compare to my old phone to make sure I have it all setup the same way.
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 weeks ago

Importantly, this guide does not mention to move your Authenticator apps (Google, Microsoft) over to the new phone before resetting the old one.


There are certain devices that do not use encrypted storage (efficiently accessed via custom hardware). It’s really not a joke when you do a factory reset on such a device and it leaves virtually all your files in place!


How about two-factor authentication and iMessage? This is what F's up people every time it's upgrade season.


Re: Authenticator apps: yeah, an issue if setting up as new, but I have not run into an issue with a restore from backup. Can't recall if the fast setup (ie. Copy stuff from existing phone to new when side by side) helped with that.

Re: 2FA, as others mentioned, don't erase the phone until done. Will get codes to the old phone. Or iPad. Or Mac. Then delete the old phone via iCloud.com or appleid.apple.com from the account.

Re: erasing a device without a passcode: erase the device, go through the process of setting up as new (do not sign in to iCloud, no emails, etc), but, enter a dummy passcode. Then erase again. Storage will be encrypted, keys will be wiped from Secure Enclave. Or, add a dummy passcode before erase to encrypt everything, then erase. Again, keys are wiped and left with gibberish in storage (OCD me erases the phone, skips setup steps to verify all looks good [no data left], and then erase again).
Rating: 1 Votes
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9 weeks ago
What about dual SIMs (specifically eSIMs) how does one deactivate this and transfer to a new phone?

Also, what about your contacts that are designated again a specific line? e.g. business contacts. Do these need to be setup again on the new phone to use a specific line (My experience is that these settings are lost when you switch off your business line)
Rating: 1 Votes
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