Factory Reset iPhoneiPhones are reliable. Thanks to Apple’s expert craftsmanship, even their oldest models can take a licking and keep on ticking. It is this reliability, and their high resale values, that makes iPhones excellent candidates for trade-in and the perfect device for second or even third owners. 

So, how do you prepare your iPhone to be traded in or sold? Or, contrastingly, what if your iPhone stops working properly and its reliability is put to the test? Oftentimes, the answer to both questions is the factory reset. Not to be confused with a soft reset or hard reset, rebooting your iPhone to its factory settings doesn’t just prevent identity theft by wiping your phone clean, it also erases any malicious software that may exist. 

But just how do you reset your iPhone? Can you erase your iPhone remotely? Or what if all you really need to do is restart your iPhone instead? Read on to find out. 

 

Contents

Restart, Reboot, Reset, or Restore: What’s the Difference?
      Soft Reset / Restart
      Hard Reset / Force Restart
      Factory Reset / Restore
How to Soft Reset Your iPhone
How to Force Restart Your iPhone
How to Factory Reset Your iPhone
Can I Erase My iPhone Remotely?


Restart, Reboot, Reset, or Restore: What’s the Difference?

Reboot, soft reset, force restart, restore to factory settings. If you’re getting confused just reading these, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Whether you’re simply trying to fix your glitching iPhone or are preparing it for sale or trade-in, there’s an R-verb that fits your needs. The key is knowing what each solution does and when it’s best used. 

 

Slide to Power Off screen when doing a soft reset - iPhone
What’s the difference between restart, reboot, reset, and restore?

 

Soft Reset / Restart

Is your iPhone giving you grief but still responding? Time for a restart! A soft reset is just that: turning your iPhone off and on. This is the first step you should take when troubleshooting any problems that might arise with your iPhone. Restarting, or rebooting, your phone will not affect your iPhone’s data in any way. 

 

Hard Reset / Force Restart

What if your iPhone is frozen or still acting up after its soft reset? Try a hard reset. Also known as a force restart, this is the equivalent of unplugging and plugging back in your computer when it has stopped responding. Like with a basic restart, force restarting doesn’t delete any information on your iPhone. It just refreshes the memory being used by closing down in-use programs, hopefully taking care of any troublesome apps in the process. 

 

Factory Reset / Restore

In contrast, a factory reset will erase your iPhone’s contents and restore it to the condition it was in when initially unboxed. Since your device will be wiped completely, a factory reset should only be completed when you are preparing your iPhone to be sold, traded in, or recycled or if your iPhone has a serious issue that cannot be fixed by a simple or forced restart. You should always back up your iPhone before restoring it to its factory settings. 

 

How to Restart iPhones
How to restart, or soft reset, your iPhone

 

How to Soft Reset Your iPhone

If your iPhone is responding to your commands but still acting a bit weird, you might want to see if a restart will help it get its act together. Apple has adjusted the functionality of different buttons over the years. As a result, the steps for restarting your iPhone will depend on which model you have. 

 

Restart an iPhone 11, iPhone XR/XS, or iPhone X

1. Press down both the Side button on the right side and the Volume Down button and hold them until the Power Off slider appears. 
2. Drag the Power Off slider from left to right, then wait while your iPhone turns off (approximately 30 seconds). 
3. To turn your iPhone on again, press down and hold the Side button once more until the Apple logo appears. 

 

Restart an iPhone SE (2nd gen.), iPhone 8, iPhone 7, or iPhone 6

1. Press down the Sleep/Wake button on the right side and hold it until the Power Off slider appears.
2. Drag the Power Off slider from left to right, then wait while your iPhone turns off (approximately 30 seconds). 
3. To turn your iPhone on again, press down and hold the Sleep/Wake button once more until the Apple logo appears. 

 

Restart an iPhone SE (1st gen.), iPhone 5, or Earlier

1. Press down the Sleep/Wake button at the top and hold it until the Power Off slider appears.
2. Drag the Power Off slider from left to right, then wait while your iPhone turns off (approximately 30 seconds). 
3. To turn your iPhone on again, press down and hold the Sleep/Wake button once more until the Apple logo appears. 

 

How to Hard Reset iPhones
How to hard reset, or force restart, your iPhone

 

How to Force Restart Your iPhone

If your iPhone is frozen or if you tried a soft reset but your device is still misbehaving, it might be time to escalate to a hard reset. Here are the correct steps for your specific device. 

 

Hard Reset an iPhone 11, iPhone XR/XS, iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone SE (2nd gen.)

1. Quickly press and release the Volume Up button
2. Quickly press and release the Volume Down button
3. Press down and hold the Side button on the right. Be sure to ignore the Power Off slider.
4. Once you see the Apple logo, release the Side button
5. Wait for your iPhone to restart. 

 

Hard Reset an iPhone 7/7 Plus

1. Hold down the Volume Down button and Sleep/Wake button on the right side of the screen at the same time. 
2. Release both buttons once you see the Apple logo

 

Hard Reset an iPhone 6s/6s Plus, iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPhone SE (1st gen.), iPhone 5s/5c, or iPhone 5

1. Hold down the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button (on the right side for iPhone 6/6s, on the top for iPhone 5/5s/5c and 1st-gen. iPhone SE) simultaneously. 
2. Keep holding the buttons and ignore the Power Off slider. 
3. Let go of the buttons when you see the Apple logo
4. Allow your iPhone to force restart
   

Still having problems with your iPhone? Get more iPhone troubleshooting tips. 

 

iPhone Welcome Screen after restoring to factory settings
iPhone Welcome Screen after restoring to factory settings

 

How to Factory Reset Your iPhone

If you’re getting ready to sell or trade in your old iPhone, congratulations! You’re only a few easy steps away from a freshly wiped device, and one step closer to putting money in your pocket. If your iPhone has a virus that a soft or hard reset can’t seem to fix, consider this your nuclear option. We’ve got our fingers crossed for you.  

 

But First, Back Up

Since a factory reset wipes your iPhone’s data entirely, you first need to back up a copy of your iPhone before restoring it to its factory settings. This makes it easier to get up and running once you get a new phone or need to set your old iPhone back up and ensures that you don’t lose any contacts, photos, and other important information. If you are doing a factory reset of your device as a troubleshooting measure, be sure to restore to a version of your iPhone from before you started experiencing issues. This will help prevent those problems from reoccurring. 

You have three options to choose from when backing up your iPhone’s data: iCloud, Finder, or iTunes. Be sure to plug in your iPhone and connect it to WiFi before starting the backup process to prevent battery drain.

   
Using iCloud: Go to Settings > Tap on your name if your iPhone is running iOS 12 or later > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now
Using Finder (for Macs operating on macOS Catalina or earlier): Connect your iPhone to the computer with a charging cable > Open Finder > Click on your iPhone in the Devices or Locations menu on the lefthand side > Back Up
Using iTunes: Connect your iPhone to the computer with a charging cable > Open iTunes > Select your iPhone > Summary > Back Up Now

 

Wait Wait… Don’t Reset Yet

If you’re planning on trading in your old iPhone to your carrier, selling it to a buyback company like GadgetGone or new end-user, or recycling it, there are a few things you need to do first before restoring to factory settings to help protect your information and prep the phone for its new owner. 

   
1. Sign out of any apps and services that you’re logged into, especially iCloud, the App Store, and iTunes (if applicable). 
To do this on an iPhone running iOS 10.3 or later, go to Settings > Tap on your name > Scroll down until you see Sign Out, then tap it > Enter in your Apple ID passcode > Turn Off.
To do this on an iPhone running iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Sign Out > Select Sign Out again > Delete from My [device name] > Enter in your Apple ID passcode > Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out.
2. Clear all email account information by going to Settings > Passwords & Accounts.
3. If you’re changing to an Android phone, deregister iMessage
Connect to cellular data > Settings > Messages > Toggle iMessage to off
4. If needed, unpair your Apple Watch
5. Take out any SIM cards and destroy them if you will be using a different SIM card with your new device. Remove or deactivate any eSIMs.

 

How to restore iPhone to factory settings
How to factory reset, or restore to factory settings, your iPhone

 

Ok, Now You Can Restore Your iPhone to Factory Settings

You’ve backed up your iPhone’s data (right?), logged out of iCloud and the App Store, and taken all other necessary precautions. Follow these steps to make your old device like new again. 

   
Make sure you remember your Apple ID and password, as well as your device and/or Restrictions passcode. You will need them during the factory-reset process. 
To factory reset your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
If you didn’t already back up your device as we suggested (you can’t say we didn’t warn you), you’ll be asked to update your iCloud backup prior to erasing. Select Back Up Then Erase (or Erase Now, if you already backed up your iPhone or just like to live on the edge). 
When prompted, validate your identity using Face ID, your fingerprint, or your passcode. 
Select Erase iPhone
If you enabled Find My, you will now be asked to enter your Apple ID password. This will turn off both Find My and Activation Lock. If Activation Lock isn’t disabled, the next owner won’t be able to use your iPhone.
At this point, your iPhone will go dark and the Apple logo and a progress bar will appear on the screen while the device resets. Once the factory reset is complete, the iOS welcome screen will appear. Your iPhone is now ready to be traded in, sold, recycled, or simply restored to a backup copy of your iPhone. The entire process can take several minutes. 

 

Erase your iPhone remotely with Find My
Erase your iPhone remotely with Find My.

 

Can I Erase My iPhone Remotely?

All of this is well and good if you’re currently in possession of your iPhone, but what if it gets lost or stolen and you need to remotely wipe your iPhone’s information? Luckily, doing a remote factory reset of your stolen device is simple thanks to the Find My app. Keep in mind that you must already have Find My enabled on your iPhone in order to erase its data remotely

 
Using Find My to wipe your iPhone’s data results in several theft safeguards:
Activation Lock will remain enabled to keep the iPhone from being usable.
Apple Pay will be turned off and any student ID or Express Transit cards will be removed. 
Your iPhone will be removed from your Trusted Devices list. 
Should you find your iPhone, it can be restored with an existing backup. 
Once your iPhone’s data is erased, you will no longer be able to locate it or make it play a sound using Find My. So, you should only do a remote wipe of your iPhone’s information if you have lost all hope of finding it again. 
 
To wipe your iPhone remotely:
1. Go to icloud.com/find and log in to Find My. 
2. Select All Devices and choose your iPhone.
3. Select Erase iPhone
4. When prompted, enter your Apple ID password
5. Your iPhone’s data will be erased the next time it is online.

Planning to trade in or sell your used iPhone? For some of the highest trade-in values in the buyback industry and personalized customer service, choose GadgetGone. Already received an offer from one of our competitors? We won’t just match it—we’ll beat it with our PriceMatch+ Guarantee. 

 

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