Want the iPhone 7? Make sure you sell your old phone safely!

Here are some tips on how you can safely upgrade to Apple’s newest iPhone.

David bisson
David Bisson

*UPDATED 08/09/2016: Added step 5 in list of safety tips.*

If you’re a tried and true Apple admirer, you’re probably looking forward to the iPhone 7, the latest iteration of its famed mobile device.

After month’s of media anticipation, and a high profile launch in California, you probably can’t wait to get your hands on one!

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After all, it comes with an improved camera, better water resistance, no headphone jack and… umm.. a new shiny black cover!

But hold on. We need to take a step back.

The iPhone 7 probably won’t be your first mobile device. Chances are, you already have an older iPhone. Remember? Yeah, that little computer on which you’ve saved your emails, texts, pictures, and apps. All of that information doesn’t just disappear when you get rid of it, you know.

Want the iPhone 7? Make sure you sell your old phone safely!

So by all means, go ahead and sell your older iPhone. But don’t hand it off and get on line for the iPhone 7 until you’ve followed a few safe-selling tips, as provided by PC Magazine.

  1. Back up everything on your device. Backing up your information will allow you to save and upload your data onto your new iPhone 7. It will also give you the peace of mind to erase your phone’s information lest someone else come across it. If you want to back up your iTunes directly to your computer, for example, simply plug in your iPhone to your computer and click File > Devices > Backup. Alternatively, you can back up directly from your iPhone by going to Settings > General > iCloud > Backup > Back Up Now. (iCloud Backups must be toggled to the “on” position.)
  2. Un-Find your phone. If Find Your Phone is enabled, a new owner might not be able to activate your iPhone. Make sure this feature is disabled so that everyone can use their new phone without a hitch.
  3. Sign out of iMessage. In the past, some Apple users experienced trouble receiving text messages when they upgraded their iPhones. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by signing out of iMessage on your old device.
  4. Eject the SIM card. The SIM card stores a lot of information about you, including your phone number, security settings, and other pieces of information. Don’t leave this component behind in your old phone! Before you upgrade, make sure you eject it so that you can transfer it to your new phone, store it in a safe place, or destroy it.
  5. Implement a factory reset. Some information you’ll never be able to wipe off of your iPhone without returning the device to its default settings. This step should be taken AFTER you’ve backed up your data by going to Settings > General >Reset >Erase All Content and Settings.

The iPhone has been around for nine years. In that period of time, it’s incorporated some security features that have frustrated computer criminals and law enforcement alike.

Unlike Android, it’s also never experienced a significant malware outbreak.

Those accomplishments notwithstanding, you as an iPhone owner have a responsibility to keep your information safe at all times. The process of upgrading your iPhone is no exception.

Follow the steps provided above, and enjoy your new Apple device without having to worry about someone compromising the security of your old iPhone!

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.

9 comments on “Want the iPhone 7? Make sure you sell your old phone safely!”

  1. Ash

    I've heard that you should also turn on encryption before doing a factory reset on your old phone, if you don't already have it turned on. Good idea?

  2. Marc

    Seems there is a very important step missing: reset to factory settings!

    There's plenty of data on an iPhone that is not stored in iCloud or iMessage. Going through the iPhone to disconnect each and every app and its data would be very difficult. Reset to factory settings should eliminate all of this (and may eliminate the need for some steps in the article).

  3. Bob

    I agree with Marc. It's almost impossible to remove every [data] artefact from the iPhone BUT that doesn't matter because iPhones are encrypted by default. However if you follow only the tips in this article you'll leave your data hideously exposed (and render the encryption useless). It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you do a factory reset to avoid your private information being compromised.

    You're right Marc – as the iPhone has full disk encryption activated by default once you've backed up your data (if you've not done so already) you should perform a factory reset. This wipes the encryption key from memory making any remnants of data almost impossible to retrieve and puts the phone back into an 'as new' state.

    As an aside I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the iPhone 7. It's an incremental upgrade at best…

    Slightly faster processor [most people don't need this]
    Louder stereo speakers [most people use earphones or a Bluetooth speaker]
    Water resistance [most people use a case – plus you'll need to buy a new case]
    No headphone port [it'll take time for wireless headphones to become mainstream]
    Slightly extended battery life [approximately 2 hours but as of yet unproven]
    Slightly improved camera [the telephoto functions are only on the 7 Plus]

    If you're upgrading from a 5 then the 7 is a big upgrade. An upgrade from a 6 or 6S is pointless unless you need a new phone or if one of those minor feature upgrades is something you've been waiting for.

    Apple seem to implicitly acknowledge the futility of the upgrade hence why they're offering an upgrade plan for UK (and other markets) customers now… so instead of paying your carrier for your iPhone you now pay Apple… on top of your mobile calls/data. You pay Apple a monthly fee and get a new phone every year.

    Most smartphones have now reached a point where they're so good that the manufactures recognise there won't be many major innovations hence their desire to get people to upgrade more regularly by offering incentives.

    Price conscious consumers will buy the handset outright, keep it for 2+ years, and use a SIM only or PAYG plan. It'll save you major money in the long run.

    1. David bissonDavid Bisson · in reply to Bob

      Good point, Bob, and my mistake for not including it in the first place. I've updated the article to include that crucial piece of advice. Thank you!

  4. Pete

    Wait…no headphone jack is supposed to be a “feature”? That’s utterly idiotic. It presumes that every audio device with which you would ever want to interface your iPhone can connect to it wirelessly.

    Once again, Apple proves that Anorexia Chic™ is an unwritten design specification for their products…another triumph of form over function.

    1. Bob · in reply to Pete

      They include a lightning port adaptor. You connect the adaptor to the lightning port and then attach the 3.5mm jack to the adaptor.

      You get a free adaptor with the phone.

      1. Pete · in reply to Bob

        Bob: Thanks for that clarification. I stand corrected.

  5. Dale

    Isn't this missIng the most important security step which is to wipe your device?

    1. Bob · in reply to Dale

      The factory reset does the wipe.

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