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Q and A: Can I Sell an iPhone that’s iCloud Activation Locked?

Flipsy.com investigates 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 question, recently submitted by a Flipsy.com customer, was intriguing; and one of the few we didn’t readily have an answer for. While Flipsy doesn’t actually buy used devices, we wondered whether the buyback vendors we compare do. Here’s what we discovered, delivered in QnA format.

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.

How do I unlock my iPhone?

You need your Apple ID and password to unlock your iPhone. Many websites, most notably DoulCi, claim to be able to bypass those requirements; however, even if they’re legitimate services they come with issues: for example, DoulCi can technically unlock an iPhone but the SIM card will not work.

The good news is buyback vendors do not require your SIM card; thus, if you’re able to unlock your iPhone with DoulCi and reset it factory settings, you should be able to sell it.


What if I forget my Apple ID and/or password?

Apple can help you reset your Apple ID and password, provided you can verify your identity. If you are unable to prove your identity or otherwise reset your Apple ID, you will not be able to disable Activation Lock or access your iPhone.

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.

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.

Looking to sell your phone? Find top-dollar offers from Trust Verified stores here:

Can I sell an iPhone that’s Activation Locked?

Yes, you can sell your locked iPhone – provided you can find a buyer. Every buyback vendor we researched requires Activation Lock to be disabled before they release payment.

That leaves the private market, where you might find a willing buyer but you likely won’t get top dollar for your iPhone. You also have to wonder why someone 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.

If you have a locked iPhone, the best strategy is to try to unlock it. 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 using a tool such as DoulCi to gain access to your iPhone so you can reset it to factory settings. If you are able to reset your iPhone, you can then sell it to a buyback vendor.




Tags: iPhones
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