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How to Prepare Your Mobile Phone for Sale or Recycling

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New, exciting mobile phones are being released so often these days that it’s difficult to remain satisfied with your current model, no matter how great it seemed when you first purchased it.

If you’re about to upgrade to the latest and greatest new phone, don’t simply discard your old one or stuff it in away in a drawer, as there’s a big market for used phones just waiting to be exploited.

The problem is that our smartphones carry so much private and personal information – you couldn’t consider selling yours without wiping its memory first.

So how do you ensure your old phone will head out to pastures new without exposing all your secrets once it’s gone? Here’s some advice on how to prepare your old phone for sale or recycling, and while it applies mainly to smartphones, much of it is relevant no matter what type of phone you’re going to be selling.

Start Early

In the same way as with cars, it can pay dividends to consider your phone’s future saleability when you buy it, especially if you’re a serial early-adopter of new tech.

Instead of thinking about colour and trim levels like you would with a car, think about how you’re going to buy your new phone. Signing a lengthy contract with a network provider can get you your new phone at a low price, but you’ll be stuck with it for the duration and forced to pay a fee if you want to end the contract early.

Although the initial cost is higher, buying a phone outright without a contract (often known as SIM-free) gives you a lot more freedom, not only to choose whatever network you want at the price you want, but you can also change your phone and buy a new one at any time, without any unexpected fees.

Protect It

So you’ve bought your new phone SIM-free, chosen a network and a tariff, and are already enjoying it; what next?

To get as much money as possible when you come to sell it in the future, it’ll need to be kept in good condition, so buy a protective case for it. There are cases available for just about every smartphone on the market, and even if you can’t find one you like, just grab a universal pouch to keep it free from scratches when it’s in your pocket or bag.

If the phone has a touchscreen, consider using a screen protector too, as this will provide another layer of scratch protection in the place you need it most.

The Apple iPhone is particularly well catered for with aftermarket cases and screen protectors of all types, but companies such as Proporta cover a wide variety of other models too, including those from Samsung, HTC and BlackBerry.

It’s Sale Time

Until now it’s just been some pre-planning and a little common sense, but the hard work begins when you’re ready to part with your current phone.

There are two stages to this process: First, backup your data, and second, wipe your phone’s memory.

If it’s an old feature (read: non-smart) phone you’re selling, then the only data stored on there you’re likely to want to keep are your contacts, which can usually be backed up to the SIM card using an option in the Phone Book’s settings. It differs from model to model, but on a Nokia it can be found by going to Menu, Contacts and Options, for instance.

It’s a different story for smartphones, as there is likely to be a lot more data to backup. If you own an Apple iPhone and use the iCloud storage service, then much of what you’ll want will already be stored there, online. To check, go to Settings followed by iCloud, then see what’s being backed up and change it accordingly.

To force an iCloud backup, select Storage & Backup from within iCloud Settings and then Back Up Now. Additionally, it’s a good idea to sync your iPhone with iTunes, and force it to do a complete backup there. Once your phone is connected, right-click on it under the Devices menu and choose Backup. That way, everything will also be stored on your computer too.

If you use an Android phone, then you can configure your Google account to keep track of all your contacts, bookmarks and calendar entries; but as for photos, messages and preferences you’ll need to use the desktop software provided by the device’s manufacturer.

Let’s say you own a Samsung Galaxy S II. You’ll need the Kies software installed on your computer first, then connect your phone using a USB cable and you’ll see a Backup/Restore tab ready to save all your data. Apps can be moved onto your phone’s microSD card or downloaded again from Google Play when you add the same Google account to a new Android smartphone.


With all your data safely stored elsewhere, it’s time to wipe your phone’s memory and return it to the state in which it left the factory. Again, this will differ depending on your phone, but it’s a very simple process regardless.

Feature phones are the easiest to prepare, as almost all have a Master Reset option, usually found within the Settings menu.

For an iPhone, it’s recommended you use the Restore option when it’s connected to iTunes, as this downloads new firmware and installs it, ready for the new owner to set the phone up.

On Android, go to Applications, Settings, Privacy and tap Factory Reset. If you have a BlackBerry you need to find Options, Security Options, General and then hit the menu button, where you’ll find the option to perform a ‘wipe handheld’. Finally, on Windows Phone 7, you’ll find Reset Your Phone under the Settings and About menu pages.


That’s it, your old phone is ready to go on to its new owner, while you enjoy your new one.

Andrew Boxall writes for Envirophone – If you’re thinking “I want to sell my mobile” then check out the site to find out what your phone is worth.

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