When the next iPhones are unveiled next month, I can finally, at long last, ditch my iPhone 6 that I spilled water on. (I’ve been too cheap to pay for repairs.) I’m sure I’m not alone, although you are probably not as clumsy as me. If you have an iPhone from the last year or three that you're ready to upgrade, selling it is the best way to get a fair return. But the process of selling a used iPhone is long and takes more effort than just trading it in. With these tips, however, all should go well.
CLEANING AND TAKING A PHOTO
Before beginning this journey, make sure to clean your phone and take note of any chips, scratches, or other defects. You'll want to be honest about those things in your description. Remove any residue and pull off any stickers you had on there. Keep your current screen protector on if it doesn’t have lots of bubbles or blemishes as you can later market the tempered glass or protective film as another reason why people should buy your phone. You've been careful about keeping it in good condition!
Try to make your phone look as aesthetically pleasing as possible by taking a photo of the phone under good lighting. You might find yourself in a momentary conundrum because you normally rely on your phone’s camera to take photos. But just grab a friend’s phone instead — or a real camera if you’ve got one.
To determine the price you should sell your phone for, take a look on the current used phone markets, including Swappa.com, eBay, Craiglist, and the subreddits r/Phoneswap, r/Appleswap, and r/Hardwareswap. (Make sure to filter out the search results for new phones.) Note what kinds of scratches and other defects your phone has and whether the damage is on the screen at all, which will impact the end value of your phone. Then, browse around for the going rates of other iPhones in similar conditions, which will give you an idea of your phone’s current fair price. If your phone’s screen is relatively new-looking, you can probably sell your phone for a decent sum. Even if the back is full of scratches, some buyers are willing to cover up the defects with a phone case and still shell out for your phone.
WHICH MARKET TO USE
Swappa.com’s fee varies and scales based on what price you set your phone at, and it’s your choice whether you want to cover shipping costs or make the buyer cover shipping costs. There is also PayPal protection on Swappa to help guard against scammers. Meanwhile, eBay takes a significant percentage in transaction fees, so it’s not ideal. Make sure your profit is at least worth more than the transaction fees plus shipping costs, otherwise there’s no point in selling your phone.
Also consider: your cellphone carrier might have its own promotional deals going on where you can trade in your iPhone, so always weigh these deals against selling your iPhone online to see which is more worthwhile. If you choose Reddit or Craigslist — which is speedy but sketchy — always meet in a public place, like a Starbucks or an Apple / carrier store to keep yourself safe. And only take cash. You don’t want to deal with the scams that run rampant on Venmo or any chargebacks on PayPal. If your buyer can’t pay with cold hard cash, wait for someone else to come along.
(Editor’s note: I’m super distrustful of people and usually bring a counterfeit detector pen if I’m collecting a few hundred dollars or more from an in-person sale. They’re under $10 and you can find them at Staples or other office stores. The odds of someone handing you fake cash are pretty low, and you might get a weird look when using it, but why not eliminate another potential way of getting scammed? —Chris Welch)
Reddit does feature flairs on r/Hardwareswap, which function like vouches for the trustworthiness of buyers and sellers. Between the three different subreddits mentioned above, Hardwareswap is for selling any electronics and accessories, Phoneswap is just for phones, and Appleswap is for all Apple products.
As you’re gearing up to sell your phone, make sure to wipe your data by factory resetting it. Be certain that you’ve disabled Find My iPhone to prevent headaches for your buyer. And remove your SIM card. Then, once someone has matched your price or come as close as you think you’re going to get, wait for payment. Once you receive payment, then you can start shipping out your phone.
WHEN TO SELL
Now that you’ve read this article, you may feel all revved up to go out and sell your phone! Before you do so, however, make sure to find a substitute phone that you can use in the meantime as a holdover. The release of the iPhone 8 is tricky, because while you may want to take advantage of the market and sell your old iPhone before the next model comes out and causes the older iPhone models to drop in value, you also don’t want to go without a phone for too long. The best thing to do may be to find a friend’s or your own crappier phone and scrape by with that until the 8 finally rests safely in your hands. Just don’t scratch the screen.
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