Prepping Your Old iPhone for Its New Owner

2 minute read
| Deep Dive

Your new toy is about to arrive, so it’s time to start prepping your old iPhone for its new owner. It’s not just a matter of just handing the device over or packing it to ship. There are certain steps you need to take first. These will make sure their experience is as seamless and easy as possible.

old iphone new owner

You can prep your old iPhone for its new owner in just a few easy steps (Image Credit: hurk)

Don’t Delete Stuff Manually

Basically, this whole procedure erases your personal information from the iOS device and gets the iPhone ready for its new owner. They’ll get a device that seems like it just came out of the box.

Under no circumstances should you manually delete your contacts, calendars, reminders, documents, photos, or anything else stored in iCloud. Doing so could delete the content from the iCloud servers and any of your other devices. While some of it might be retrievable, much of the items are just gone when you delete them.

Instead, you’ll want to take steps to sign out of iCloud and then reset your iPhone to its factory settings.

Unpair Your Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch, the first step is to unpair it. Open the Watch app on your old iPhone, tap your Apple Watch at the top of the app, and then tap the orange “i” icon.

You’ll see the name of your wearable device, what kind of Apple Watch it is, and an option to find it. Below that, in red text, tap on Unpair Apple Watch.

Follow the instructions and wait for the process to complete. You will need to know the password for the Apple ID you’ve used to sign into iCloud, but you’re going to need that for the next step anyways. Once the Watch is unpaired, it’s time to back up your iPhone and then remove your personal information.

Back Up Your iPhone Locally

This is your last chance to get a good backup of your iPhone, so let’s do things properly. While you could just do an iCloud backup, it’s far better to have a local copy of the data on your iOS device. For that, you can use either iTunes or iMazing.

Using either iTunes or iMazing, make a complete backup of your iOS device. Be sure you know where this backup is located, so you can use it when you receive your new device to restore from. If you’re concerned about something going awry, you may want to stick with iTunes for this backup. That way, Apple can’t point the finger at your backup solution if you run into problems.

Unlink Everything From iCloud and Reset

Now it’s time to disconnect your iPhone from iCloud. This will erase your content like contacts, reminders, calendars, documents, photos, and other iCloud information from the device. Everything will remain safe and sound in iCloud, though, so you can get to it later.

If you’re running iOS 10.3 or later, tap Settings > [Your Name]. Scroll down until you see Sign Out, and tap that. You’ll be prompted for your iCloud password, so enter it and then tap on Turn Off.

If you’re still running iOS 10.2 or earlier, you’ll need to drill down a bit deeper. Tap Settings > iCloud > Sign Out, then tap Sign Out again. Tap Delete from My iPhone, and enter your Apple ID password. Finally, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out.

Now it’s time for the moment of truth: erasing all of your data. To do this, go back into Settings and tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. If you had Find My iPhone enabled, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password to disable the feature. Finally, if your iPhone has a SIM card, you should remove it.

Old iPhone, New Owner

After you erase your iPhone, the Find My iPhone and Activation Lock features will be turned off. Once the process is complete, your old iPhone is ready for its new user.

3 Comments Add a comment

  1. wab95

    Thanks for this, Jeff.

    I’m about to do this tomorrow when my wife’s and son’s phones arrive. I normally do all of the above steps you’ve outlined, except the unlink from iCloud step. I always had assumed that once you’ve done the factory reset and removed the SIM card, your data are erased and you’re done, assuming you don’t turn the phone back on and attempt to link to the cloud.

    Is that not the case?

  2. vpndev

    Before you sign out from iCloud, do the following:-
    – sign out from Messages
    – sign out from FaceTime
    – sign out from iTunes and App stores

    Then sign out from iCloud. If you don’t specifically sign out from Messages and FaceTime, your old phone will sometimes remain linked to your account. That is a real pain, as I can personally attest.

  3. vpndev

    One other tidbit – Apple devices have a limit for the number of iCloud accounts that can be created. Not just the “AppleID” to associate with some existing email address, but a new iCloud account and its associated email account etc.

    The limit is THREE. Per device. If the device you sell has created three then the new owner can’t create even one.

    So if you need to create an iCloud account, think of using that old iPhone 4 that’s sitting your drawer for that purpose.

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