Old phones used to be practically worthless. They ended up in closets and drawers only to be thrown out or recycled later. There were not many concerns about security with older phones since they only had some rudimentary contact information with phone numbers and not much else. Smartphones changed the landscape of used phone value as well as the importance of good data security practices. An Experts Exchange infographic indicates that smartphones today have more computing power than a supercomputer from 1985. Most have sensitive banking information, electronic wallets, photo and video libraries, access to paid services such as Netflix and so much more. Considering that, here are four important things to do before selling your old phone.
Complete Data Backups
Android, Apple and Microsoft all have cloud storage options for photos, videos, contacts, apps and other data. Before an old phone is retired from service, a full sync of all data should be done to a cloud account. Each smartphone OS has different methods and options for syncing data that can be restored to a new phone by simply logging into an account when setting it up. It is a good idea to set up the new phone to make sure all pictures, videos, contacts and other data get restored before doing a factory reset on the old phone.
Remove Sim and Memory Card
Most new phones come with a new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card. However, it is still wise to remove the one in the old phone. Along with the subscriber information, SIM cards have the ability to hold some other private data such as contacts. Some users inadvertently save contact information to the SIM card instead of the phone’s memory. Removing the SIM card prevents the information from being compromised. Some dual number phones may have more than one SIM card. It is also important to remove the memory card if one has been added. Wiping data is never as secure as physically removing the storage device. Plus, the memory card can instantly be used to transfer stored images and videos to a new phone.
Perform a Data Wipe
A factory reset clears immediate and easy access to private data that has been stored on the phone’s internal memory. However, the data is still there. It can be recovered using available forensic data recovery tools. Therefore, a factory reset is usually all that is needed if a person is selling an old phone to a close friend or relative to use, but it is not enough if the phone is going to be sold to a stranger. Use the smartphone’s data encryption option to secure all of the data on the phone before doing a factory reset. Without the access code, it makes it very difficult to recover any usable data.
This step is especially important for extra phones on a carrier account to halt the monthly billing. However, it is important for customers to be sure that any contract obligations tied to hardware are satisfied before removing it from an account. It is also advisable to inquire about anything the new owner will need to know or have to do in order to get the phone activated. If there is any question, it may be useful to leave some sort of way for the new owner to make contact in case a followup call to the carrier is needed to get the phone activated.
Smartphones, especially ones kept in protective cases and that have all the original packaging, fetch higher prices on the used market. It is sometimes enough to cover the purchase of a new phone under a carrier’s discount purchase with a two year contract. Quality used smartphones have such a high value due to many consumers needing a replacement for a broken phone still under contract or the desire to get a good smartphone that does not have a contract. Taking steps to back up and clear private data gives a lot of peace of mind when selling an old phone.