Selling or swapping a used Android phone is a smart way to safely dispose of your old devices and hopefully make some extra cash to use on your next upgrade. However, before unloading your old phone, there are a few things you need to consider – including backing up and deleting your data, cleaning it up, and finding the right seller or trade-in offer.
Sounds simple enough, but the variety of Android “flavors” makes this process more chaotic than it is for iPhone users. Therefore, the names and locations of the settings that we cover in this guide may differ on your phone or your version of Android, but the general guidelines are the same. If you can’t find something, use your phone’s search bar to find the right settings. If that doesn’t work, search online for instructions for your device.
1. Back up your Android data
The first step is to back up your data – including your contacts, texts, app data, photos and other files stored on your phone. The process has pretty much the same steps as our video tutorial on Back up personal data on Android (and iOS), so feel free to check this out too.
There are a few ways to back up an Android phone, but Android’s built-in backup tool is the easiest. It uploads your data to your Google Drive (or other apps) so that you can import it to your new phone later.
Many users have automatic backups enabled, but you can create a backup manually at Settings> System> Backup. This menu also shows the most recently created backup and the data types it contained. Make sure to toggle each option below “Backup details” to make sure nothing is left behind then select “Secure now” to save your data.
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Note that you may not have enough storage space to back up everything on your phone for free, at least if you are using Google Drive or Google One Drive. Anything you back up counts towards the free 15GB allocated to each Google Account, but purchasing additional storage is inexpensive.
That said, if you want to keep things free but are struggling with the 15GB limit, the best option is to backup your phone’s photos and videos elsewhere. Google Photos will automatically back up your phone’s pictures, but the app will now count additional cloud uploads against the storage limit of your Google account, and photos and videos are probably the largest chunk of data on your phone. Instead, look for one alternative cloud service or manually Move your photos to your PC via USB.
2. Remove your Google Account (and other accounts)
The next step is to remove your Google account from the phone. Make sure you do this step after you have backed up your data as you will not be able to sync your files to the cloud after removing an account. Fortunately, the removal process is pretty straightforward:
- Go to Settings> Accounts.
- Select your Google account from the list.
- Tap “Remove account.”
- Repeat this process for all other accounts that have been synchronized with the phone.
3. Perform a factory reset of your Android
If your data is backed up and your Google account is no longer linked to your phone, you can now do a factory reset. This will erase your data, files, and installed apps from the phone’s internal storage and reset all settings to their defaults. You can do a factory reset, even if Your phone screen is totally devastated, but we’ll show you how to do it, provided the device is still fully functional.
- Go to Settings> Advanced> Reset Options
- Choose “Delete all data (factory reset).”
- The next screen shows you everything that will be deleted. This is your last chance to back up any remaining data.
- Tap “Erase all data” to begin the process.
4. Clean it
Now that the inside of your phone is cleared up, now is the time to move on to the outside parts.
It’s pretty easy. Start by removing any cases, screen covers, and other accessories attached to your phone, then remove the SIM card. The steps to do this vary from device to device, but most require a tiny pin wrench to open the SIM card slot. These tiny tools usually come in their original packaging, but you can also buy them online. or go to a certified repair location, technical support desks in stores like Best Buy, or your phone provider’s nearest store. Oh, and don’t forget to take out micro SD expansion cards if you have a phone that supports advanced storage options.
Now is the time to clean your phone. Our guide to safely disinfecting electronics can help if you are unsure of what to do, but the general rule is to avoid liquid cleaners as moisture harms electronics and chemicals like alcohol, bleach, and ammonia attack plastic and glass can. A simple wipe with a microfiber cloth removes fingerprints and stains, and a dry cotton swab can help remove dust or grime.
This is also a good opportunity to assess the quality of the device. Make a note of dents, cracks, or scratches in advance so that you can get an accurate assessment in the next step. You should also make sure that you still have the original packaging for the phone and any accessories that came with it, such as chargers or headphones. These are not required to sell the phone, but can add to the final trade-in value.
5. Find a trade-in offer or a reseller
Your phone is now ready to be traded in, but the question is: where to go? There are a few different options, and some may get a better deal than others, but it ultimately depends on what you intend to do with the trade-in value.
If you want to use the value of the old phone as credit on a new phone, check out your service provider’s trade-in programs. T-Mobile / Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, Google Fi, US cellular, and others allow you to trade in old phones and use the value on your next purchase. However, only certain models may be eligible and only if they are in good condition.
For those buying direct from a manufacturer, you can sell back old versions of the company’s phone for credit. For example, with Samsung you can Trade in your Galaxy phones, and Google accepts pixel trade-ins. However, there may be restrictions here as well.
Likewise, retailers like it Amazon, Best buy, GameStop, and Walmart also have trade-in programs, and you can use your gift card balance to buy anything on their websites.
If you want to sell for cash instead of credit, there are many third-party providers you can use as well, including:
These companies buy your old phones for cash. The payout is based on the condition of your phone and the current market value.
The last option is to sell the phone directly to someone else yourself. A direct sale can sometimes be a better deal as you can set the price yourself, but there is no guarantee that you will make a sale.
There are many websites out there that make it safe to sell online such as Swappa, Ebay, Facebook marketplace, or also Amazon and Back market if you are a professional renovator. These websites usually offer some form of fraud protection and transaction guarantees.
You can also take the riskier route and post Craigslist, or online forums, subreddits, telegram channels and Discord servers intended for resale on the after-market. And if all else fails, post it on social media and see if your followers are interested. However, there is always the potential for fraud, fraud, and other abuse while using websites and services like these. So be careful when going this route.
6. Ship it
Whoever you sell or trade your phone to, the final step is to prep and ship the phone – unless you are trading the phone in person. In that case, you can just go to the store.
Manufacturers, service providers, and third-party suppliers provide shipping instructions and often free labels that you can print out at home. If you sell it on Craigslist or eBay, you will have to take care of the shipping yourself. Your local post office or companies like UPS and FedEx can help you package and ship everything – just know, you pay for the shipping yourself.
As soon as the package is in the mail, all you have to do is wait for the recipient to whom you sent it.