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Learn How to Wipe A Phone: Step-by-Step Guide

Seeking to sell your old smartphone? Here’s how you can do so in a secure manner.

First off, what needs to be understood here is that the phone must be WIPED clean of any data. Because, and for obvious reasons your data will stay safe and not fall into the wrong hands such as hackers or cybercriminals.

You must be thinking, a factory reset would do the job. That is partly true since a new owner can easily recover deleted files, messages or texts via restore tools available online. Also, because passwords and other user details are saved by your browsers and apps.

Safety Measures for Wiping any Phone

Worry not as this guide will enable you to wipe an Android as well as iPhone. Follow these steps:

1. Back up data

The default method of doing so is by going to Settings> System> Backup and turning on Back up. Your phone automatically or should you choose manually, will back up your files and photos. These will be backed up on Google Drive if you are an Android user.

Now delete any files or images that are present on the phone. There are several apps available on Play Store which will enable you to do the same. Make sure to keep your Google account’s Sync Now feature is enabled. Now go to Settings> Users and Accounts> Account Sync> ‘Sync Now’. For some apps, you might have to do them manually.

On your iPhone: Settings> Your Name> iCloud> iCloud Backup and tap ‘Back Up Now.’ You can choose which ones to back up under Apps using iCloud. To sync, do it with iTunes.

2. Turn off factory reset protection (FRP)

In Android version 5.0 or above, the phones have factory reset protection automatically enabled. To factory reset, you will first have to deactivate this setting. If you have an older, you might very well skip this step and move on to the next one.

To check which version you are using, simply go to Settings > About device/phone > Software info. To disable FRP,

Settings > Security or Lock Screen Security > Screen Lock and turn it to ‘off’.

There is no such hassle on iPhone.

Log out of your accounts/ services

On Android:

Settings> Users and Accounts, choose your accounts, and then click ‘Remove.’

On iPhone:

  • For iMessage, go to Settings> Messages> Switch off iMessage option
  • For Wallet & Apple Pay, select Settings> Wallet & Apple Pay> Click on your Card> Remove Card
  • For ‘Find my Phone’ feature, go to Settings> Your Name> iCloud> Find my Phone
  • To log out of your Apple ID, visit Settings> Your Name> Scroll Down and tap ‘Sign Out’> You will be asked to enter your password

Additionally, sign out of apps such as Gmail and Facebook so they don’t hold on to your data when you have the device sold.

3. Delete saved passwords from browsers

As stated earlier certain apps such as your phone browsers tend to hold on to your sensitive data such as passwords and other user’s info. Thus, it is advisable that before selling your phone delete (all) of your saved passwords from browsers on either Android or iPhone.

4. Remove SIM or external storage

Of course, remove your SIM card from the phone before putting it up for sale, duh! Also, make sure that you have removed any memory card which is in your phone. Most folks forget they had external storage in the phone and from that point forward, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Therefore, be very mindful of it!

5. Exercise phone encryption

We have established this much that a mere factory reset of your phone is not enough to wipe your phone’s data completely. So to add another layer of security, encrypt your devices which in turn, will protect your data.

So whoever the new owner is or whatever his or her intentions are, they won’t be able to recover your data.

On Android sets, go to Settings> Security> Encryption & credentials. For iPhone, encryption element is embedded in the account you sign in with to use your phone and is saved on the cloud. Once you are logged out, it’s impossible to recover that data.

Bonus tip: Upload some junk files to the phone such as videos of animals or natural scenery to crowd the internal storage. Now perform a factory reset. This will make recovering of your actual data genuinely impossible. All someone will be able to recover are animal and nature videos.

6. How to reset

Finally, perform the long-awaited reset: Settings> Backup & Reset> Factory Data Reset.

On iPhone, Settings> General> Reset> Erase All Content and Settings.

Voila! You have wiped your phone, in totality.

7. Remove device information from linked accounts

Sign in to your Google Account from a computer, browse to Recently Used Devices and find the device that you have just wiped clean. Choose ‘Remove’ to unlink. Similarly, on the iPhone, visit in your computer’s browser. Under Devices section, ‘Remove’ the device linked to your Apple ID.

You’re welcome.

Conclusion: You Must Completely Wipe the Phone

By now you must have learned how to wipe a phone. Safeguarding your privacy and security, both online and offline is crucial in today’s world. If you are online, make sure you have decent mobile security in place and if you are selling the phone, a complete erasure of your phone’s data is equally essential.

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