Phones aren’t built to last forever. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. New products come out so frequently that there’s very little incentive to keep your older model phone.
So naturally, the smart thing to do is recycle your old device to pay for a new one. Simple, right? Well, you’d think so — but not everyone knows there’s a right and and wrong way to sell or buy a used smartphone. Tap or click to learn how to choose the best smartphone in 2019.
Without being properly reformatted and erased, a used smartphone can become a liability instead of a windfall. Personal data, login info and private photos can easily fall into the wrong hands, unless you take the right steps. Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest mistakes people make selling their phones secondhand.
1/5 secondhand phones on eBay not properly reset
According to a study performed by the University of Hertfordshire and Comparitech, one in five secondhand phones available for sale on eBay still contain personally identifying information. This comes from a failure to properly reformat the phones before selling them off — a common, yet dangerous mistake.
For the study, the university team purchased 100 smartphones on eBay from a variety of different secondhand vendors. Of these devices, only 53 were properly erased and reformatted. There were 17 phones using outdated operating systems that couldn’t be recognized and 11 were completely dead.
Related: 8 ways to stop your phone from tracking you
There were 17 phones that successfully activated, but they contained personally identifying information. This could have been avoided had the users properly erased their phones and installed a factory restore of the operating system. Tap or click here to learn how to factory restore your phone.
What should I do if I want to sell my phone?
Not only does this study highlight the importance of reformatting your phone before selling it, but it also shows how unreliable it can be to buy a secondhand phone online.
Even if it seems like you got a good deal, buying a phone that’s broken or won’t update is frustrating and potentially dangerous in terms of cybersecurity.
So what’s the right call? To get your phone in shape for selling, you’ll want to erase it back to factory settings. The method of resetting will depend on which operating system your device uses, but make sure to back up your phone before proceeding. Otherwise, you’ll lose everything on that phone for good.
To reset on iOS, open the Settings app, navigate to General, and scroll down to the bottom until you see Reset. Tap this, and on the next screen, you’ll see several options to erase or reset your phone. Since you’re getting rid of your current device, you’ll want to select Erase All Content and Settings.
You may be asked to enter your Apple ID and password at this point if you have an activation lock enabled. This option totally reformats your device, and gets rid of all data on it.
Since Android devices vary by manufacturer, the steps are a little different for each. Here’s our summary of the most popular models:
On a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, go to Settings and then General Management. Then, select Reset. Select Factory data reset and then tap Reset device.
On a Google Pixel, open Settings followed by System. Then, select Advanced, then Reset options followed by Erase all data (factory reset). Then tap Reset phone.
On a Huawei phone, go to Settings followed by System and tap Reset. Then, select Factory data reset and tap Reset Phone.
Just as with iOS, if you have an activation lock enabled (called Factory Reset Protection on Android), you’ll need to remove this before you can fully erase the phone. Tap or click here to learn more about the reset process, as well as how to disable activation locks before selling.