How to factory reset your iPhone before selling or trading it in?


Photo by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

It’s easy to forget your old iPhone when you set up your shiny new one. But after you’ve logged into all your apps and double-checked that your emails are indeed showing up on your new iPhone, don’t just put your old phone in a box and forget about it.

It’s important to take a few minutes to factory reset your old iPhone, delete all your personal data and apps, and erase everything from your iCloud account or Apple ID, especially if you plan to to sell or trade in your old iPhone. You don’t want your data to end up in the hands of a stranger, do you? Not to mention that if you trade in your phone and Apple’s Find My service is still active, some companies will decline the trade-in and you’ll miss out on any credits.

Wiping your phone only takes a few minutes and it’s incredibly easy.

How to factory reset your iPhone


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Apple has made the process of resetting or erasing your iPhone easy with iOS 15. Rather than remembering to turn off Find My iPhone and Activation Lock before resetting your phone, the new process takes care of everything for you.

To start, open the Settings app on your iPhone, then select General from the list of options. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Transfer or reset iPhone† The next screen gives you the option to prepare your phone to set up another device. You can follow these steps as you get ready to set up your new iPhone, or if you’ve already done so, just tap Clear all content and settings at the bottom of the screen. Enter your passcode when prompted.

The next screen will show you all the information that will be erased from your device and will inform you that all cards, keys or passes in the Wallet app will be deleted. And yes, Find My and Activation Lock are also disabled.

Tap the blue Get on knob. You’ll be presented with an iCloud backup screen that, if you let it run its course, will make one last backup of your iPhone before erasing it. If you’ve already set up your new iPhone, you can skip this screen. Let it finish otherwise. On the next screen, you will be prompted to enter your Apple ID/iCloud account password when prompted. This is the step that disables Find My. After entering your password, tap the Switch off button in the top right corner.

It may seem like nothing happens when you select Disable, but give it a second or two before doing anything else. In my experience, your phone tries to disable Find My during this time, but it is missing a progress indicator.

Finally, you will see another popup with a button labeled erase iPhone in red. Tapping the button will reboot your iPhone a few times and when it’s done it will erase all your information from it. You’ll know it’s done when you see a welcome screen.

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