Sell cell phone: Delete data beforehand – the right way

by Pramith

To sell your old cell phone, you should delete your personal data beforehand. This works via apps or the factory settings.

Sell your cell phone: Erase data – the basics

If you sell your old smartphone, you can use the money you get from it to buy a new device. The important thing here is that the new owner does not get hold of your stored personal data.

  • The easiest way is to reset the smartphone to factory settings.
  • A hard reset, however, is not enough to remove all data from a flash memory, as this would simply take too long. With a memory of 32 GB, this can take up to an hour, depending on the processor speed. This is because every single memory content is overwritten with a “0” so that they no longer contain any information.
  • However, even after such an event, personal data can be partially recovered. Quite simple recovery tools like Android Data Recovery are usually sufficient for this. However, these can also be used to recover content that has not been properly deleted by someone else.
  • Some smartphone manufacturers are now taking a different approach and encrypting the content stored on them. For example, a simple reset is sufficient for these devices, as this also removes the code key that you use to access the memory. The disadvantage: What is deleted cannot be recovered.
  • On Android, data has been encrypted since Android 5.0, on iOS since version 7. Meanwhile, encryption is even linked to the fingerprint sensor in some cases, which can be used for decryption.

Android smartphone: how to erase your data

If you do not own a smartphone that meets the specified conditions, you will have to resort to other ways to remove the data completely. The easiest option is – of course – resetting to factory settings.

  • Check in the settings under “Security” and then “Encrypt phone” whether you can encrypt your device. If so, set up this feature for your phone.
  • Now remove all accounts manually in settings before factory reset.
  • Navigate to “Backup and reset” in your smartphone settings and then select “Factory reset”.
  • Use apps to automate the reset. Free variants are, for example, Secure Erase iShredder and cb Eraser. The advantage: You can use both apps without rooting your smartphone.
  • The use of the respective program is self-explanatory, simply follow the instructions on your screen. Most important is the “wiping” of the “system memory” (system space).
  • You can then restart the smartphone once to check this. The familiar setup screen should now appear.

Sell Apple phone: Erase data

All iPhone models from the iPhone 4 onwards have data encryption. This ensures that a subsequent readout of your data is more or less impossible.

  • First make sure you have the latest iOS version installed to use this security feature.
  • Also check if you have actually enabled the feature. This requires setting up a code lock. If you use this to unlock your iPhone, you don’t need to worry.
  • Disable the tracking in the settings under “iCloud” at “Find my iPhone”. Otherwise, similar to Android, there may be problems with login for the upcoming user.
  • Finally, select “General” in the settings, then “Reset” and “Erase all content & settings”. Your iPhone should now be reset to factory settings.
  • If you can’t update to at least iOS 7, you’ll need an app to securely wipe the data. Suitable apps for this task are iShredde or Dr.Fone Data Eraser.

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