iPhone Range
Credit: Yutaka Tsutano

You are in the happy position of having received a new phone either via purchase or upgrade, but now you have an older iPhone in perfect working order and are not quite sure what to do with it. Read on and I'll explain how to safely pass it on to a friend or relative. 

Prep it

The first thing you must do is make sure that any data that stored on the iPhone that you will need in the future is backed up. Data can be stored on either the sim card or on the phone memory. 

There are essentially three ways to back up your iPhone:

  1. iTunes
  2. iCloud
  3. SIM contact
iPhone rearCredit: blakeburris


With iTunes, connect your iPhone to your laptop via the provided USB cable and wait for it to appear in iTunes. It should appear labeled as whatever you called the phone when it was initially set up, in my case "Jack's iPhone 4". Dont worry about this label for the time being as when we tidy the iPhone up later this will be removed.

Click on your iPhone and select the Sync button. This will store all the information on your device on your laptop. If you just want to back up your contacts, select the Info tab along the top, select Sync Contacts and then choose an appropriate method of backing up your contacts. Once this is done hit the sync or apply button.


With iCloud, you will need to have an iCloud account, which is straightforward to set up but the software version of your iPhone needs to be iOS 5.1.

On your iPhone, select Settings, then iCloud. From here select that information that you want to back up, with most importance being given to Contacts in this article and click OK. This will backup all the selected items with the iCould when the phone when it on Wi-Fi. For this reason, I prefer to use the iTunes method as I am definitely sure that the backup has happened, rather than depending on the Wi-Fi being available.


The third option is to go to the store that provided the upgrade or new phone for you and get the assistant to back up your Sim or Micro Sim card. This only backs up that data stored on your Sim, which is a small subset of the overall data stored on the phone and on its own is a poor substitute for the other methods shown. 

Wipe it

This is the step to get rid of all the incriminating data stored on your iPhone. You are removing all data on the phone, from contacts to emails, apps to bookmarks, in essence any changes you as a user have made to the phone since it came from the factory. 

This is the last chance saloon, make sure you have removed anything you might need from the phone at this point and double-check, as there is no going back.

Once satisfied that there is no data you will need in future left on the phone that isn't stores somewhere else, begin the wiping of the iPhone with the following steps;

Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings -> Erase iPhone

Bear in mind that this can take anything from a few minutes to multiple hours.

Move it!

This is the fun part. Give your freshly scrubbed iPhone on to the person who you have selected and bask in the appreciation! 

Sell it

Should you take this option to make a profit from the second-hand market, you'll need to make sure your data and information are secure before your old iPhone transfers into the hands of a perfect stranger.

Selling it on is a worthwhile exercise are there is a significant market for even damaged Apple products but make sure to research the market for your make and model to make sure you get a fair price for your old iPhone.