A Guide To Selling Your Old Android Devices

I tend to get very attached to my Android devices although I do not like to part ways with my devices, I would rather have them being appreciated by others rather then collecting dust on my bookshelf. I have sold my fair share of Android Devices over the past few months and have put together a comprehensive guide to selling your old phones and tablets.

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Wipe Your Device

Your tablet likely contains a small amount of personal or private information such as phone numbers, text messages, saved passwords and banking information that should be cleared before selling your device. Whether you are planning to sell your device online or in person, you should treat it with the same level of care as you would your wallet and completely scrub all personal data from your device before selling it. I like to think that most buyers are honest but there are a few bad apples that may attempt to use devices purchased second hand as a collection plate to steal your identity. Following the steps below will result in the device having no traces of personal data left to be taken, these steps will take a lot of time to do but are worth every second of work.

  1. Backup All Data You Wish To Keep – In many cases, much of your data is normally automatically saved to the Google Cloud however it is always best to ensure that everything has been saved that you wish to keep. This also goes for your MicroSD Card if you use one. I do not recommend selling your phone with a MicroSD card unless you use a file shredder to clear the SD Card Contents prior to the sale.
  2. Remove your Phone’s SIM Card if this is a phone or 3G/LTE Tablet. This will prevent SMS messages from coming to the phone.
  3. Encrypt your phone or tablet – This process will essentially make all data on your tablet unusable without the decryption key which is normally your devices pin or password. The encryption process does take a very long time to complete once stated. Not all versions of Android support encryption so the steps below may not apply to you. If you have a device such as the Nexus 9 or Nexus 6, you can skip these steps as your tablet comes encrypted by default.
    1. Charge your device until the battery is completely full, the encryption process requires a full battery and your tablet should remain plugged in during this process
    2. Access the Settings Menu on your phone or tablet
    3. Select the “Security” Menu
    4. Select “Encrypt Phone” or “Encrypt Tablet”
    5. Enter your Lock Password or Lock Pin
    6. Your device will now reboot and start encrypting its storage. This will take between 60 and 120 minutes to complete and your device will not be able to accept calls while in progress. Keep the device plugged in.
  4. Factory Reset Your Phone or Tablet – Once the encryption has been completed, unlock your device and perform a factory reset to expunge the encryption keys and clear the storage. At this point, your data is completely unrecoverable.

Restore Factory Firmware

In general, devices being re-sold should only be shipped with the factory firmware unless otherwise agreed to by the buyer. If you have rooted your device or installed an aftermarket ROM, you should flash a factory image. You should also re-flash a stock recovery and re-lock the bootloader of possible. You should always let the buyer know if the device has been modified in the past, even if you restore it to factory.

Take Photos of the Device

I like to sell my devices on Swappa.com and as part of the seller verification process, they require you to submit several photos of the device containing a unique device ID. These photos must be submitted before Swappa will approve your listing for sale. These photos should be high res and done with both the screen on and off to show that there are no cracks or deep scratches in the screen. This will also serve as an insurance policy in the event that the device is damaged while being shipped.

Note All Serial Numbers  – Keep records of the serial number and ESN/IMEI of the device and include it with the shipping information.

Clean The Device

Prior to packing up the device for the last time, take a microfiber cloth and possibly some mild glass cleaner to the screen to remove all dust and fingerprints. This goes for all accessories provided with the tablet as well. This extra step goes to ensure that the buyer provides great feedback.

Packing the Device

Whenever possible, you should pack the phone or tablet in the original packaging if you kept it as it was designed to offer the best level of protection possible. Having the original packaging also allows you to offer the device at a slight premium as many educated customers would want this.

If you are shipping the device, I strongly advise that you pay a few extra bucks to have the package professionally packaged by the shipper. You should always insure the package and have tracking. This information should be communicated to the buyer. It is also strongly advised that you have the buyer confirm the address at least once.

Selling The Device

I personally do all of my selling on Swappa.com as I find that it gives me the biggest return. Swappa takes a flat $10.00 fee on all transactions. In general, I get between $150.00 – $250.00 per sale however this does vary based on what you are selling. Swappa only allows devices with Clean ESN Numbers to be listed to ensure that the seller is not selling stolen phones. When selling online, clear communication between the buyer and seller is paramount. You should:

  • Thank the customer as soon as you are alerted that the sale has been completed
  • Set the expectation on when and how the product should be shipped.
  • Provide clear and frequent status updates when the product has been packed and when it has been shipped
  • Provide the tracking numbers
  • Follow up with the customer once delivered to ensure the package has arrived
  • Keep an open line of communication open to address any customer questions
  • Provide Feedback or Ratings once the sale has been completed
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