Selling a phone? Do these things first

The Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, HTC U 11, and OnePlus 5 are all beautiful new devices that are tempting customers to open up their wallets. If you’re in the market for a new device, an important factor in your decision might be how much you can get for your old device. It’s a lot easier to drop a ton of cash on a new flagship if you know your old device is worth $200 – $300, right?

The difference between a quick sale at the top of your asking price and a long, drawn out sale where you don’t net as much could come down to a few simple details. In this guide, we’re going to give you some tips on how to maximize what you can get for your device.

This is part one of a two-part story about how to get the most money for your device. If you’d like to read our on what to do while and after you sell your phone, check out part two here.

Preparing your device

Before you even consider making a listing for your device, there are a couple of steps you need to take to protect yourself and ensure that your buyer is getting the best device possible. These are super simple steps but can make a large difference for both you and your buyer.

Backup your data

No one wants to lose their data. That can be anything from pictures to text messages, call logs, downloads, and documents stored on your device. More recent versions of Android have allowed users to easily backup and restore data automatically, but I still prefer some third-party applications that let me be more active in the backup and restoration process. If I’m doing it, I know it got done.

The first app I’m going to suggest is SMS Backup and Restore. I’ve used this app for as long as I can remember. It’s not the prettiest, but it does allow you to backup and restore all of your SMS conversations and call logs. It also gives you the option to include MMS messages and emojis or special characters. Additionally, if you only care about a few specific conversations, it will allow you to select the conversations you want to keep instead of every single one of them. I love that it can upload the backup to Google Drive or Dropbox so I can log in on my new device, download the file and restore my conversations with the app.

I have Google Photos setup to automatically backup my pictures and videos on my phone, but I also make sure to open it up and watch it sync one more time before I move over to a new device. Once you wipe your device, there is no chance to get those pictures back if you haven’t backed them up, so better safe than sorry.

My last step to back up my data is to open up Solid Explorer and just look around at the file system and folders in my device. I don’t often make widgets with Zooper Widget Pro but I have been known to once in a while so when I do, grabbing those files is important. Also, a quick glance at my downloads folder will remind me if there’s anything important that I need to move over to my new device. A quick upload to Google Drive later and I’m almost ready to wipe my device.

SIM unlock the device

If you’ve purchased your device from a carrier, unlocking your device can bring you a higher price when you sell it used. You have a couple options for SIM unlocking and both are very easy. First off, if your phone is paid off and has been on your account for a few months, your carrier should permanently SIM unlock your device for you. To do this on Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, give customer support a call and request an unlock code. T-Mobile has an app that’s preinstalled on your device that will automate the process.

If you aren’t able to obtain an unlock code from your carrier, you can purchase one from a third-party site like Android SIM Unlock or On some devices, you can get dirt cheap unlock codes which will allow you to charge more. It’s basically free money. I suggest checking out what the price difference between locked and unlocked devices are on Swappa before you pull the trigger.

Factory Reset

Now that you’ve pulled all your data off the device and you’ve SIM unlocked it, it’s time to factory reset the device. In almost all devices, you can find the factory reset in the Settings application near the bottom of the list. However, some less popular phones from very small brands will include an application solely designed to let you factory reset your device.

Factory resetting your device is incredibly important for your sale. You don’t want to send your device off with your data still on it to some random person. Additionally, they won’t be able to wipe that device without the password to your Google account. I would suggest that you factory reset your device and run it through the setup process without entering any email addresses or personal information. If you do this, you know that the phone successfully wiped your information, there are no locks on the device. Your customer can easily factory reset and go through the setup process when the phone arrives to them.

Spruce up your device


Aesthetics are important. No one wants to buy a gross phone so make sure you clean the outside before you take your pictures. Grab a Microfiber cloth and wipe off the display and rear of the device and make sure you take the time to clean out things like the earpiece and any gaps in the body. Additionally, a tempered glass screen protector might help get you more for your device, but if it’s cracked or chipped at the edges, just take it off so people can see that beautiful, scratch-free display.

Take great pictures

Pictures are one of the most important parts of selling your device. A good set of pictures will do all the selling for you. Be sure your pictures are well lit and the potential buyers can see any and all scratches on the screen or back of the body as well as any physical wear. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers, what would you want to see? If you’re spending money on a device, you want to know every square inch of that device so try to show it to them too. It’s important to also gather all the accessories for a family shot. These can include any cases, cables, wall adapters, boxes, screen protectors, or anything else you’re planning to package with the phone.


I’m a technology addict so I go through plenty of devices. These steps have never steered me wrong and I hope they help you out a little too. The thing I try to remember at all times is to be honest about the device. You’re trying to get the most money you can for your device, but if it arrives and the buyer isn’t happy, you’re going to have a headache on your hand.

This is part one of two in a series about selling your old phone. Please check out the second installment about what to do during and after your sale!

If you have any more suggestions of apps to help back up data before selling a device, tips for selling or shipping your device, please post down in the comments section!