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What to do with your old Android phone before selling it: 5 essential steps

If you want to give away or sell your old smartphone or tablet, there are some important things that you do first, so that you don't accidentally pass on your personal information to someone else. We’ll explain how to clean up your device so it's good as new before it changes hands, and also suggest some places to donate or sell your device if you do decide to sell an old Android phone.

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No matter who your old phone or tablet goes to, you should always wipe it (inside and out) before you give it to them. The main reason for this is to protect your privacy, but it will also make it easier for them to set it up anew. There are several important things to do when removing your data from your old Android phone, which are detailed below.  

1. Take out the SIM card

The first thing to do when preparing an old phone for a new home is to get your SIM card out. Even if you're getting a new SIM card with your new phone, your old SIM card has lots of your contacts saved on it, so you don't want to go leaving it in an old phone.

You might need a SIM ejection tool to remove the SD card tray, but if you don't have one, never fear, because we've already shown you how to open the SIM tray without a tool.

androidpit sony xperia x sim sd slot
Take out the SIM card first. / © AndroidPIT

2. Unmount/remove the memory card

If you have a phone with a microSD card slot, then remove the SD card. Just look for the slot on the edge of your phone or behind the battery cover.

Before you remove the card, copy as many photos, apps and documents as possible to it, so you can take them with you to your new phone easily.

3. Erase your data

The next thing to do is to wipe your data from the phone itself. There's two simple ways to do this: either go into Settings and look for the backup/restore section, or do it manually with hardware buttons. Make sure you have a full backup of all your data before you take this step!

The following data is deleted:

  • Google account settings 
  • Settings configuration data and applications
  • Installed apps
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Other user data
  • Linked accounts (Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, etc.
pixel settings system reset menu screenshot
Settings > System > Reset > Factory data reset / © AndroidPIT

4. Clean it

Once the insides of the phone are clean, the next thing you should do is clean the outside too. There might not be much you can do about scratches on the screen or general wear and tear, but you can sell it off without grubby fingerprint marks all over the display.

If you want to impress a potential buyer, you could apply a screen protector and replace the battery cover (if there is one).

AndroidPIT Screen cleaning 0049
Clean it! / © AndroidPIT

5. Rebox it

If you're a good Android owner, then you would have kept the box and bits and pieces that came with your old Android phone. Smartphones come with all kinds of goodies: from USB chargers and cables to headphones to SIM tools to spare earbud rubbers. The more of this stuff you can get back in the box (even if it's not the original equipment) the more likely your old phone is to look well looked-after.

androidpit samsung fast charger note 5
Try to round up all the bits that originally came with the phone. / © AndroidPIT

What to do with an old phone?

There are lots of different things you can do with an old phone: gift it to a friend or family member, donate it to a worthwhile charity that breathes new life into old smartphones (such as Cell Phones for Soldiers or Green Citizen), recycle it (via CTIA's Go Wireless, Go Green initiative, for example, or the EPA), sell it (either whole or for parts), trade it in for an upgrade, or give it a new lease of life in one of these imaginative ways.

AndroidPIT dead galaxy s6 3076
You can still sell a broken smartphone. / © AndroidPIT

Where to sell an old phone?

If you've decided to sell your phone, there are a few options: if the phone is in good condition (and you still have the box), the best place to sell anything secondhand is eBay. Get some nice pictures, fill in lots of details and upload that old Android to the used marketplace. You also have the option of sites such as Glyde, Swappa or Craigslist.

Beyond selling it online, there are also pawn shops, EcoATM, Cash Converters, electronics markets, garage sales, classifieds, and even the big retailers quite often have buy-back or trade-in offers. The simplest thing to do is sell the phone back to the carrier you bought it from, but not all phones are accepted (especially very old or unpopular ones) and you aren't likely to get top dollar that way.

Let us know if you managed to sell your old phone or what you do with your old phones once you get a new one in the comments.

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  • Jay 5 days ago Link to comment

    What about finger print scanner, and the google account? Are they also completely wiped when doing the factory reset?

  • From Android M onward, users might (or might not) have configured their microSD cards as "adoptable" to expand internal storage, in which case the card is uniquely encrypted and part of the Android system. In that case, important on board data, photos, media, etc. should be exported to a PC hard drive or USB drive before doing anything, because the encrypted microSD is useless for retrieving data when pulled from the phone. The "adoptable storage" microSD can be pulled and reformatted for use elsewhere, or be wiped in a system reset process and sold with the clean phone.

  • REMEMBER TO UNLINK YOUR DEVICE FROM YOUR SAMSUNG ACCOUNT: It's not been mentioned that it's very important to remove your device from your Samsung account before selling. Of you don't the buyer will not be able to set up the device, even if you do a hard button factory reset. They will be asked to enter the email account that the device was set up on and of course you won't have given them that.

    • Neve had that issue with samsung. Never had a samsung phone, new or used even ask me for my samsung id. Its always been a option I had to go into settings and enter manually

  • Swappa.com is a much better place to sell a phone than eBay. EBay is full of purchase scammers, fake accounts, and charges quite a bit. Swappa uses PayPal, you can require verified accounts and charges no fees to sellers unless they do a premium listing.

  • Ahm AD Jul 11, 2016 Link to comment

    Olx.com

  • John B. Dec 31, 2015 Link to comment

    Don't they have an app that wipes the entire memory and then writes over the old?

  • Is there a website listing how much second hand phones costs averaging? Dont know how much $$ to sell my Xiaomi phone for !

  • Bruge den som kamara overvågning i dit hus

  • Mark G. Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Be aware that a factory reset will not erase your data. It is very easy to recover passwords, personal information, media by using simple file recovery software.
    To ensure that your data is unrecoverable you should do the following.
    Encrypt your phone prior to selling, then any recovered data will be scrambled.
    Overwrite new data - there are lots of apps that will perform rewrites - then factory reset - then rewrite more data then again factory reset.

    This will ensure that your personal data is buried deep in the memory this makes recovery a lot more difficult (though not impossible). Though again if you encrypt the phone first then this will scramble any recovered data.

    Better be safe than sorry....

    Peace ✌

  • choetech Jan 12, 2014 Link to comment

    Awesome information you shared about phone memory and also SD memory deletion process before sale to others.

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