Bring out your dead: What to do with your old iPhone

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Getting rid of your old iPhone

Maybe you don’t want to keep an old phone around on principle — or maybe you truly have no use, space, or time for an older iOS device hanging around like stale leftovers. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make an old iPhone go away.

Before considering any of them, however, you should wipe your iPhone. This removes all your apps from the device but also removes all your email, text messages, documents, photos, media library, and a host of other content. When you say goodbye to an iPhone, you don’t want to give your life away with it. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Back up your device to your computer using iTunes. That way, you can restore it later if things go awry.
  2. On your iOS device, go to Settings > General > Reset.
  3. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

We recommend that before you discard, sell, or in any way pass on your iPhone to someone else, that you follow our comprehensive guide on how to factory reset an iPhone.

Pass it along

There are probably plenty of people in your life who could use an iPhone — or just an iPhone-turned-iPod touch. Many parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents will happily receive an old iPhone. In the case of seniors, it can be a particularly useful gift because even off-service iPhones can still dial 911. Folks who already have mobile phones may be able to transfer their service to the old iPhone, or they can set up new service with the iPhone.

If there’s no one in your life who can make good use of an old iPhone, odds are there’s someone nearby who can. Many local charities will be happy to accept your old iPhone (and other devices) for senior citizens, victims of domestic abuse, the homeless, and other disadvantaged people. Simply put, you could make a big difference in someone’s life. Similarly, plenty of nationwide charities will happily accept older iPhones as a donation. Cell Phones for Soldiers and Phones 4 Charity are two such examples.

Sell it

Your old iPhone is worth cash to many people. Craigslist and eBay are great places to find a willing buyer for your old iOS device. Of course, the aforementioned services also come with caveats: If you don’t already use them for other things, we can’t really recommend starting just to sell your old iPhone. That said, if you’re already experienced with eBay or used to doing local deals on Craigslist, they’re likely to net you the most money for your old device. Newer devices command the highest prices, but don’t disregard the value of cases, headsets, chargers, and other accessories.

We suggest that you read through our guide on how to sell your iPhone, if you’re looking to learn about all the possible ways to get the best value for your phone.

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Trade it in

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling your phone, plenty of places will take your old iPhone as a trade-in. A great example is Amazon. The online retailer currently accepts old iPhones from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint as trade-ins, though payment is in the form of an Amazon gift card, which may or may not be what you want. Verizon Wireless also offers a trade-in program for any of your old iPhones, regardless of carrier. Plenty of other retailers, including Best Buy and Gamestop, offer iPhone trade-in programs, which are usually good for credit toward a new phone.

Even Apple is getting in on the trade-in action. The company has its own re-use and recycling program for almost everything it sells — including iPhones. Depending on your device’s age and condition, it may be recycled instead of reused, but Apple is offering competitive values for its old devices — albeit, in the form of an Apple gift card rather than cash. You’ll still do better on eBay or Craigslist, but, again, going with Apple is less of a hassle.

Recycle it

If your iPhone is so old it has little to no value — or so beat up it barely works or doesn’t work at all — recycling it may be your best option. Services such as Gazelle and Apple’s recycling program can handle that for you, but you can probably save the cost (and carbon footprint) of shipping your device off to be recycled by taking advantage of e-waste recycling in your area. Many cities and states offer free recycling programs, and most others have recycling services available for a small fee. It’s better, and more eco-friendly, than simply tossing your unwanted devices in the trash.

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