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How to wipe your Android phone before you sell it or trade it

Want to buy the latest Samsung phone or save some money with a Google PIxel 3A? Whether you want to trade your old Android phone for a discount on your new phone, sell it on eBay, pass it on to a friend, or drop it off for recycling, you'll want to delete all of your data first by resetting to factory conditions. Fortunately, this is pretty easy.

Before you begin, you should be aware that these instructions apply to a Pixel 3 XL with Android 9, but the process should be pretty much the same for most current Android phones. First, make sure all your data is transferred to your new phone, secured, or both. Once your old phone has been reset, there is no turning back.

  • Go to Settings
  • Select System> Advanced> Reset Options
  • You have three options. "Reset Wi-Fi, mobile and Bluetooth" is sometimes helpful if you have problems with the connection. Resetting app settings will restore all app and notification standards, among other things. Both do not erase the data on your phone. This is the job of the third choice, "Clear all data (factory reset)", and which you will select.
  • You receive a warning screen that reminds you that your data will be deleted with all the accounts you are currently logged in to. Select "Reset phone".
  • If you have a PIN or other security setting, you will be prompted to enter it.
  • Another screen asks if you are sure you want to do this. Are you sure? Then click on the "Delete all" button.

Done! The process usually takes only two or three minutes. Your phone will restart and start with the usual opening questions such as language, account, network, etc. If you see them, you know they worked.

There are some things you need to keep in mind. If you have a Samsung phone, you will be asked to enter your Samsung account password before you can reset it (assuming you have one created and added to the phone).

If you have an Android phone that uses an earlier version of the operating system (for example, prior to version 8), you will need to log in after the reboot. This can be awkward if you have already sent the phone to another person. Therefore, if you have an older phone, you should disable screen lock (by selecting "No" under Security> Screen lock) and clearing your Google Account (see Settings)> Account> Google) before you start to reset.

There are indications that some data may remain on a phone even after resetting. To be extra careful, you can encrypt your phone before resetting:

  • Go to Settings> Security and Location> Advanced> Encryption and credentials and select Encrypt phone.
  • Go Back to Settings and Start Resetting [19659022] Of course, if you really want to be secure and not give anyone the phone, you can always grab a hammer.

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