Q and A: Can I Sell an iPhone that’s iCloud Activation Locked?
We investigate whether any companies buy locked iPhones, and how you might be able to disable Activation Lock to sell your used iPhone
“Do you ever buy iPhones that are iCloud locked?” That’s a question we occasionally receive from Flipsy.com customers, and one that’s easy to answer: yes, you can sell an iPhone that’s iCloud activation locked to a Flipsy Trust Verified Store. Check out answers to more frequently asked questions about selling an iCloud activation locked iPhone below.
What is iCloud Activation Lock?
Activation Lock is a security feature that makes it difficult for thieves to use or resell stolen iPhones. When enabled, Activation Lock requires your Apple ID and password to erase your iPhone and reset it to factory settings or to turn off Find My iPhone. Apple has tried to make it impossible to access locked iPhones without the proper credentials.
Can I sell an iPhone that’s Activation Locked?
Yes, you can sell your locked iPhone – provided you can find a buyer. Most buyback vendors and carriers require activation lock to be disabled before they release payment. However, you can browse or search for your iPhone on Flipsy to find Trust Verified stores that will buy iCloud activation locked iPhones.
You might also be able to find a buyer on the private market, but you likely won’t get top dollar for your iPhone. You also have to wonder why a private buyer would be willing to purchase an iPhone with Activation Lock: are they criminals, or do they simply have a means to disable Activation Lock? If they can unlock your iPhone, can they also access the information stored on it? The last thing you want to do is hand over access to your iCloud account, personal photos, financial information, and other sensitive data.
Note that you’ll get more money for your iPhone if you can unlock it first (more on that below).
Aren’t criminals the only ones who try to sell locked iPhones?
While criminals do attempt to sell locked iPhones, the Activation Lock feature has significantly reduced the number of iPhone thefts. Moreover, it’s very possible a legitimate iPhone owner could find themselves locked out of their own device. This can happen if you forget your Apple ID or password and are unable to reset them. You might also have a locked phone if it was given to you by someone who lost their passcode or if you received it after a relative passed away.
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It can also happen if you’ve enabled two-step authentication and someone attempts to hack your account – and you’ve lost your recovery key. This is exactly what happened to Owen Williams, who found that Apple refused to unlock his account after an attempted hack because he couldn’t find his recovery key.
How do I unlock my iPhone? What if I forget my Apple ID and/or passcode?
You need your Apple ID and password to unlock your iPhone. If you forgot your Apple ID and/or passcode, Apple can help you reset them – provided you can verify your identity. If you are unable to prove your identity or otherwise reset your Apple ID, you might not be able to disable Activation Lock or access your iPhone.
Ready to sell? Many phones are worth $100+. Find the value of your phone.
Tools like iMyFone LockWiper and Dr. Fone claim to be able to bypass iCloud Activation Lock. Both offer free versions (paid versions start at $30 and $50, respectively). However, their sites state they can only unlock iPhones with iOS versions up to 11.4. If your iPhone is running iOS 12 or 13, these tools will not be able to unlock it.
The good news is buyback stores will buy locked iPhones, so if you still can’t unlock your iPhone you should still be able to sell it.
What are my next steps?
The best option is to reset your Apple ID and password, if you can, or search high and low for your recovery key (Owen Williams eventually found his, and that’s the only way he was able to gain access to his device). If all else fails, try iPhone unlocking software to gain access to your iPhone so you can reset it to factory settings.
If you still can’t unlock your iPhone, you can sell it for cash to a Flipsy Trust Verified Store.
Next: Locked Out of Your iPhone 6 Plus? Here’s How to Reset Your Passcode (with Video)