How to Delete Everything on iPhone Before Selling Your Device

Before you sell or trade-in your iPhone, there are some important steps you need to take. These steps will ensure the next person to own your phone won't have any of your information on it. And if you're trading your iPhone in, it's equally as important since many carriers and companies won't give credit for a phone that hasn't been wiped. We'll go over how to delete everything on iPhone, which means restoring your iPhone to its factory settings. Here's what to do before selling your iPhone, as well as some quick tips on selling and trading your iPhone in. If you're planning on getting a new iPhone anytime soon, the tips below are a must. Don't skip these steps. Here's how to wipe your iPhone or iPad and delete everything.  

From backing up your data to restoring that data to the new iPhone, there’s quite a few things to do before selling your iPhone. It's also important to delete everything on your old iPhone, so it's restored to factory settings when the new recipient receives it. So before you sell that old iPhone of yours, read this first. We’re going to cover everything from backing up your iPhone’s data to resetting your device to factory settings. 

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Table of Contents:

1. How to Back Up iPhone

Before you wipe your  iPhone and delete everything, you’ll want to back up iPhone, rather the data on your iPhone, to a trusted computer or to iCloud. This backup is the one that will transfer everything from your old device to the new one, which is why it’s so important you know how to back up your iPhone. The easiest way to back up your data to the cloud is via your phone's Settings app. To back up your iPhone to iCloud:

  • From Settings, select your name at the top, then tap iCloud.
  • *If you're running iOS 10 or earlier, you won't have a name to select; just tap iCloud instead. 
  • Scroll down until you see Backup.
  • Select Backup and turn iCloud Backup on.
  • When this is on, iCloud automatically backs up your information. When you set up your new iPhone, the backed up data (photos, library, documents, settings, etc.) will easily transfer.

To back up your iPhone to iTunes:

  • Plug your iPhone in via the USB port and look for the icon of your phone to appear in the upper left menu. Clicking the icon shows you the specifics of your phone.
  • From the Summary page, find the section labeled Backups. Select the circle labeled This computer.
  • Then select Backup now and a file will be saved to your computer.

It’s much faster to create an iTunes backup on your computer than it is to upload all your info to the cloud. However, it can often be more convenient to restore your iPhone from the cloud. 

2. How to Sign Out of iCloud (Local & Remote)

Another thing you need to do before selling your old device, that is often overlooked, is signing out of iCloud on your iPhone. If you remember to do this before you sell your iPhone, that’s great. But if you forgot, it’s not a big deal—we’ll cover how to erase your device from iCloud remotely too. To sign out of iCloud on your iPhone:

  • From Settings, select your name at the top, then tap iCloud.
  • *If you're running iOS 10 or earlier, you won't have a name to select; just tap iCloud instead. 
  • Tap Sign Out. Confirm that you’d like to Sign Out.

  • Tap Delete from My iPhone and enter your password to wipe your iCloud data from the phone.

To remotely sign out of iCloud on iPhone:

  • Go to
  • Sign in to your iCloud account.
  • Click All Devices and select your old iPhone.
  • Click Erase iPhone. Once it’s been erased, click Remove from Account.

3. How to Unlock Your iPhone for Use with other Carriers

Unlocking your iPhone generally allows you to sell your device for a higher price. This is because an unlocked iPhone can be used with carriers other than the carrier you used when owning the device. For instance, if you had a contract with Verizon but you’ve fulfilled your contract and paid off the iPhone, then you can ask Verizon to unlock your device. That way, when you sell your device, the person who buys it can choose to use Sprint, T-Mobile, or any other carrier they choose.

Therefore, if you’ve fulfilled your contract, ask your carrier to unlock your iPhone. To get it unlocked, call your carrier or fill out a form on your carrier's website.

4. How to Erase Your iPhone to Factory Settings

Before you hand your old iPhone over to someone else, you need to erase everything. This is known as resetting your iPhone to factory settings. Once you’ve done this, the iPhone will power up as though it’s just come out of the box. Resetting your iPhone to factory settings is important for two reasons: your own privacy and readying the iPhone for the person you sell or give it to. To erase your iPhone to factory settings:

  • Open Settings.
  • Select General.
  • Scroll all the way down and tap Reset.
  • Tap Erase All Content and Settings and enter your passcode.

You’re ready to sell your phone.

Selling Your Old iPhone & Setting Up Your New iPhone

Out with the Old: Selling Your Old iPhone

Now that you’ve done the top four things you need to do before selling your iPhone, it’s time to pass it on to the next person. There are multiple ways to sell your old iPhone and no clear best place to sell that iPhone. Here’s our list of options with relevant information:

  • Websites to check out include Swappa, Glyde, and Gazelle, which are all resale sites specifically for smart phones and other electronics.  
  • You can sell it locally, which may allow you to fetch the highest price if your device is like-new. When selling locally, Craigslist is a good option so long as you’re careful of scams and accept cash only. You might, instead, try posting the iPhone for sale in your local Facebook sell/trade/buy group.
  • If you plan to spend more money at Apple, you can trade-in your old device at an Apple store and get immediate store credit. 
  • You can turn in your old iPhone to Apple's Reuse and Recycling program for credit, which is a great option if your iPhone is partially damaged.
  • Or you can choose to sell your iPhone using a more general online website such as can eBay or Amazon, which is another way to get the most money for your old iPhone. 

In with the New: Setting Up Your New iPhone

Congratulations on the upgrade! Now you’re ready to set up your new iPhone using that beautiful backup we made at the beginning of the article. Restoring from a backup will cause all your settings, data, and purchased content to automatically appear on your new iPhone. If you decide you’d rather start from scratch, you can also set up your iPhone as new.

How to Restore your iPhone from Backup (iCloud or iTunes)

*If you're setting up a newer iPhone, such as the iPhone 8 or iPhone X, the set up screens may look different and offer slightly different prompts than listed below. However, if you follow the on-screen instructions, the phone will get you set up easier than ever before. 

Restore iPhone from iCloud Backup

  • Turn the device on. A setup assistant will appear that asks your language and country, if you’d like to enable Location Services, and which Wi-Fi network to connect to.
  • A new screen will appear that says Apps & Data. From the three options, select Restore from iCloud Backup.
  • Tap Next, and enter your Apple ID and password. (Here's how to reset your Apple ID if you forgot your password)
  • You’ll then see a list of your recent backups.Choose the most recent, and tap Restore.
  • As you restore your backup, you’ll need to enter passwords for your Apple ID, email, and other accounts.

Restore iPhone from iTunes Backup

  • Plug your new iPhone into your computer using the USB-to-Lightning cable. If iTunes doesn’t automatically pop-up, open iTunes. Your new iPhone may ask for the device passcode or whether or not your trust this computer; tap Trust This Computer.
  • Tap the icon of your device found in the top left of the page. This will open the device summary on iTunes.
  • Select Restore Backup.

  • A box with a list of the locally stored backups will appear. From the drop down menu, select the most recent backup you made from your old iPhone.
  • Click Restore.
  • If your backup was encrypted, you’ll have to enter that password as well.
  • Keep your device connected to your computer as it restores. Your iPhone will power off and back on; let it sync with your computer.

Once the sync is complete, you can unplug your new iPhone. It’s restored and ready to go!


Top Image Credit: Viktoria Roy /

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.