How to erase your Android phone before selling or trading it

about to buy the latest Samsung phone or are you more of a pixel person? Whether you want to trade your old Android phone for a discount on your new phone, sell it on eBay, give it away to a friend, or give it away for recycling, you’ll want to erase all your data by doing a factory reset first. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to do.

Before you begin, note that these instructions were tested on a Pixel 3 running Android 12, but the process should be pretty much the same for most current Android phones. Of course, first make sure all your data is transferred to your new phone, backed up, or both. Once your old phone has been reset, there is no going back.

That’s it! The process usually only takes two to three minutes. Your phone will reboot and begin with the usual opening questions like language, account, network, etc. Once you see these, you’ll know it worked.

There are a few things to consider. First, if you have a Samsung phone, you may be asked for your Samsung account password before you can reset it (assuming you’ve created one and added it to the phone).

If you have an Android phone that uses an earlier version of the operating system (e.g. before version 8), the reset may ask for your login after the restart. This can be awkward if you’ve already sent the phone to someone else. Therefore, if you have an older phone, it’s a good idea to disable your screen lock (by going to security > screen lock and select none) and deleting your Google account (found at settings > account > Google) before starting the reset. (In fact, it can always be a good idea.)

There is evidence that some data can remain on a phone even after it was reset. To be extra careful, you can encrypt the phone before resetting it:

  • Go to settings > security > Encryption & Credentials and select encrypt phone
  • Go back to your settings and start the reset process

Of course if you want Yes, really sure, and you don’t intend to hand the phone to anyone, you could always grab a hammer.

Update Sep 3, 2020 10:50am ET: This article was originally published on May 22, 2019 and has been updated to mention newer phones and to update a menu selection.

Update from March 24, 2022 11:40 am ET: Updated to mention newer phones and Android 12 update instructions. How to erase your Android phone before selling or trading it

Fry Electronics Team

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