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

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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.

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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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