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How to sell your old phone or tablet

We go over every step needed to prepare your phone or tablet for selling on, the best ways to sell it and how to get the maximum return for your old tech.

It’s the time of year when many of us will be receiving a new smartphone or tablet under our Christmas tree. Of course, it’s lovely getting a brand spanking new device, opening the box, peeling off the plastic and getting to grips with its novel bells and whistles, but there’s always the question of what you should be doing with your old device.

Well, you could give it to a needy family member (preferably one who is stuck in the dark ages, using a feature phone). Alternatively, you could recycle it for a few extra quid to cover some of the more sundry seasonal expenses, or through charity if you feel like doing a bit of good. Or, the most commonly chosen option – sell it for hard cash.

The quick and easy option of recycling can often reap pretty decent rewards without much of the hassle and risk of selling on your old handset. However, if you decide to go for maximum profit, you’ll need to know a few things to avoid being had, and to make sure the selling process is as smooth and pain-free as possible.

Back up your photos and other stuff

The first thing you should do before anything else is back up all your precious data, media and memories from your old smartphone or tablet.

Drag your photos and home movies on to your computer, or use a Cloud service to ensure they’re not wiped for good when the device is reset – something like iCloud, DropBox or Google Drive will do the job. Ensure your work/documents are saved elsewhere too. There’s nothing worse than hitting that wipe button, before suddenly realising that you didn’t back up all those photos from your mate’s stag do in Magalouf. Remember, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Wipe your phone or tablet

Once you’ve backed up your stuff you’ll need to wipe your device. In the current climate, data security is paramount. Bad folks can take control of your whole life with just a few snippets of personal data and a little social engineering know-how, so wipe, wipe and wipe some more and if you’re in doubt: wipe again.

On iOS, you’ll need to go into Settings, and then choose General. After that, scroll to the bottom of the screen and select Reset. Once you’re in there, choose Erase All Content and Settings. Wait a few moments and your device will be wiped back to a factory-fresh state.

If you’re an Android user, go into Settings, find Backup & reset and then hit Factory data reset. On the next screen you’ll see a button which is labelled Reset phone – hit it and wait for your device to wipe.

If you’re carrying sensitive data on your Android device, whether it be work related or personal, you should encrypt your phone before you perform the factory reset, because it will add an extra layer of security which will render your data unusable even if the unthinkable happens, and the wipe isn’t fully successful. Do this by going into Settings and choosing Security and then Encrypt phone. After that, follow the procedure listed above to wipe.

If you’re a Windows Phone 8.1 user, hit Settings then select About and then Reset your phone.

Prepare your phone for selling

Next, don’t forget to remove the SIM card! This one’s super important. Sending off your device to its new home with your SIM inside is a recipe for disaster. You could get saddled with a huge bill if you don’t notice, or even if you do you’ll end up waiting for a new card, unable to properly use your new device.

Once the phone or tablet is wiped and the SIM has been removed, it’s time to start gathering up the box and accessories (provided you still have them), because you’re more likely to get a decent price for the thing if it’s in good order. Give it the device itself a wipe down with a lint-free cloth, bundle the bits and pieces up and put them back in the box. It’ll likely be a challenge akin to the Crystal Maze getting the charger and stuff back in the box, but persevere.

Advertise your old phone or tablet

You’ll probably have some idea of which platform you wish to use to sell your phone. We personally recommend eBay, as sellers are protected against bidders who don’t pay up and other potential issues, with problems often resolved in a timely fashion. Plus, you can see your buyer’s reputation, including feedback from other people they have bought from.

Next, take some photographs. You may be tempted to use some funky filters because, y’know, you’re like so artistic and a photographer, but don’t. People want to see detail if they’re going to drop potentially a few hundred quid on a second-hand device. They don’t need sepia tones and Starbucks cups in the background.

Take your photos and upload them to your eBay account, Facebook selling group, or local classifieds and add an honest description. Don’t say your device is ‘like new’ if you’ve dropped it a bunch of times and it looks more battered than Micky Rourke’s face. If you tell people what the issues are, you’re less likely to get chased after you’ve sold it.

Use PayPal or cash up-front as payment methods. Don’t accept sob stories or other assorted tall tales if people contact you, trying to wheedle the device out of you before they’ve paid. Cleared funds or GTFO, as the old saying goes. Also, consider only selling within your home country. It may sound like a good idea to cast your net far and wide in search of buyers willing to pay your price, but the margin for screw-ups is too damn high and you could very well end up with a bill to pay and no phone or tablet.

If you’ve chosen to use local classifieds, such as Gumtree, don’t give out more personal information than you need to and be aware that, despite the sites best efforts, scammers are inevitable. Use an email address(preferably one set up for the sole purpose of selling) and nothing else if you can help it. If someone contacts you and wants to come and collect and pay in cash, consider it. Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s better to wait for your money than get turned over because you’re after a quick buck.

If you choose to meet and deal, choose somewhere full of people and make an arrangement for daylight hours. Take a friend. Don’t be the guy who hands the device over, takes an envelope full of cash in payment and then ends up getting it taken back from them on the way home.

Lastly, be fair. If someone has genuine grievances after the sale, communicate with them. If you’ve used eBay, you’ll have access to a dispute system which is there to protect you as well as the buyer and the same goes for PayPal. If you didn’t and you went the solo route remember to be nice and show a little empathy.


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