So let’s say you come across an old iPhone that you haven’t used in years. You don’t really have a use for it since you’ve upgraded to a new model, so you can’t help but wonder, “Hey, I can get a few bucks” with the key words “sell locked iPhone.” There’s just one problem, though – you forgot the passcode.

Even if you’ve written it down somewhere and forgot where or you just had a lapse in remembering from years ago, you just can’t seem to unlock the phone. Does that mean you’re stuck with it, or can you still sell it?

When it comes to locked iPhones, you’ve got quite a few options. But first, it’s helpful to know what “locked” really means…


sell locked iPhone
No, not physically locked…but it still can’t be accessed.


What Is a Locked iPhone? 

It’s not a simple definition. Let’s look at the different variations.


What Is a Network Locked iPhone?

This means that it can only be used with one network and isn’t “unlocked” for use with others. For instance, your iPhone might be “locked” to Sprint which means it can only be used with Sprint and no other carriers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s network locked for all eternity. In fact, once you finish paying off your phone, you can actually ask your cell phone provider to unlock it for you. (Side note: devices purchased from Verizon unlock automatically after 60 days.)


What Is a Passcode Locked iPhone? 

An iPhone is considered “passcode locked” when you can’t access the home screen because you have either forgotten the passcode or don’t know who put it in previously. For instance, if your kid or spouse puts in one and doesn’t tell you about it. Or, worse, a vengeful ex. (Keep your phone closer next time!)


frustrated woman holding a phone
Locked out? We know the feeling.


What is an iCloud locked iPhone? 

An iPhone is iCloud locked (also known as “activation locked”) when you can’t access the home screen because you can’t remember your Apple ID and password or don’t know the account details of the original owner. Typically, if an iPhone is passcode locked, it will also be iCloud locked, to keep information on the previous user secure.


What Is a Remote Management Locked iPhone?

Businesses that provide iPhones to their employees will typically add a “remote management” (or MDM) profile to those devices so they can make sure employees are using their smartphone as intended. The remote management profile allows employers to do things like monitor employee activity and internet traffic, automatically install apps and settings, and a number of other things. It also blocks particular content, depending on the employer.

Accordingly, this profile can only be removed by the employer. If this profile is not removed before the employee or employer sells the iPhone, it is considered “remote management locked.”


sell locked iphone
A locked phone can take on a number of appearances. But locked is still locked.


Can I Legally Sell A Locked iPhone? 

Maybe. You can, of course, sell any iPhone you want, but the legality of doing so varies and is often a bit of a gray area. For starters, if you didn’t acquire this iPhone legally (aka you stole or found it), you’re committing a crime (often a felony) by selling it. It’s not worth the risk, so either leave it or turn it in at a nearby lost and found or someone else, depending where you found it. (And if you’re stealing, stop it. We’re on to you.)


Sell a Network Locked iPhone

If your iPhone is locked to another network, it’s generally legal to sell. In fact, you can sell these iPhones to us here at GadgetGone for a reasonable price. Even if you owe money on the iPhone, it’s usually still ok to sell.

Typically, when you owe money to a network for an iPhone you financed, they don’t actually want the phone back if you can’t pay your bills or decide to sell it. Be warned, though – they’ll still want the money you owe them on the phone. The debt does not transfer over.

Keep in mind that if you owe money on your iPhone, it may have a bad ESN (or electronic serial number), which will substantially decrease its resale value. So, if you have the ability to pay off your iPhone before selling it, get it done. Once paid off, you can ask your carrier to unlock the iPhone for other networks, thus increasing the value. (Again, Verizon does unlock its devices sixty days after sale, but still, better safe than sorry.)


Sell a Passcode Locked iPhone

If this was your phone and you just forgot the passcode, your best bet is to simply perform a “DFU (Device Firmware Update) restore” on iTunes. This will remove the passcode lock and bring your iPhone back to factory settings so you won’t have to sell it as locked. Granted, if you’re trying to get information on your phone, it won’t be provided. This is a mere “hard reset.”

Even if it wasn’t your phone previously, you can still perform a DFU restore and it will remove the passcode lock. Or, if you use Face ID to unlock your phone and it doesn’t seem to be working, give this procedure a try.

However, if it’s also iCloud locked or blacklisted, it won’t do you much good as these statuses cannot be fixed by anyone other than the original owner. You’re out of luck.

If you insist on selling an iPhone as passcode locked, you still can. But you’ll have a very limited pool of buyers. So, although GadgetGone won’t buy your iCloud locked or blacklisted iPhone, we will take it off your hands if it’s only passcode locked. (Just expect a lesser price than one that’s unlocked.)


Want to sell locked iPhone but Face ID not working
Having working Face ID could save you trouble with unlocking your phone. If it works.


How To Sell Locked iPhone

If at all possible, remove the iCloud lock before selling. iCloud locked iPhones are worth almost nothing and are generally only purchased by companies who scrap them for spare parts. You’ll have a very hard time finding interested buyers, as companies like GadgetGone do not accept iCloud locked iPhones.

If, however, you came by the iPhone legally, then yes, you can sell it. Just be sure to set your price expectations very, very low, especially compared to a regular, unlocked phone. (At the very worst, you can recycle your device and do some good for the planet!)


Where To Sell Locked iPhone — Remote Management

First, if this iPhone is remotely managed by your previous employer, ask them if you are legally allowed to sell it. If you aren’t, don’t bother. Because if you do, they are very likely to find out that you sold it, and then you’ll have to deal with the nasty legal repercussions or termination (or both). Although, if it’s legally your device, simply ask your previous employer to remove the remote management lock and you’ll be golden. (If they don’t ask for it back, that is.)

If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to remove the lock, it can still be sold legally as long as it’s your property. There are a few remote management lock removal tools out there. Just do a Google search for “Remote Management Bypass Tool.” But, if you need to sell the iPhone as-is without removing the lock, you will essentially be selling it for parts, so don’t expect to get much at all for it.


sell locked iphone
No, plastic keys won’t unlock your iPhone. They also look silly.


Where To Sell Locked iPhone

Welp, you’ve done your best to try and unlock your iPhone, but no dice: Your phone is still almost as secure as Fort Knox. So, can you sell your device? Actually, yes.


Where to Sell Locked iPhone — Network

Not to worry – these beauties can be sold to companies like GadgetGone. They can also be sold almost anywhere else, so you’re welcome to do a trade-in at your carrier or even use Apple’s trade-in program.


Where to Sell Locked iPhone — Cloud

Unfortunately, an iCloud locked iPhone can only be sold to a very limited pool of buyers. Two companies known for buying these pesky devices are:

iCloud Locked iPhone


They don’t offer that much, but at least it’s something. If you prefer, you may also have some luck selling locally on platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. eBay may also be an option, though buyers may complain about buying a locked phone unless you make it absolutely clear in the listing.


Unsure of where to sell your locked iPhone? Try GadgetGone
Yes, you can sell a locked iPhone. But you need to be careful about it.


Where to Sell Locked iPhone — Passcode-Locked

Passcode locked iPhones can usually be sold anywhere, provided you’ve removed your iCloud account. Keep in mind that a passcode locked iPhone with an iCloud account is no different than an iCloud locked iPhone. 

If you need to sell your passcode locked iPhone (with no other locks), you’re better off selling it to a company like GadgetGone that knows how to remove the passcode lock. Most carriers won’t accept trade-ins for these iPhones anyway, and local buyers likely won’t know how to remove a passcode lock. Stick with the pros (and don’t bother with eBay – same rules apply).


Where to Sell Locked iPhone — Business

Selling remote managed locked iPhones is tough because the business can always spy on whoever is using it. That means most people do not want these unless they’re being sold for spare parts (or, for some reason, really want other people to watch what they’re browsing for).

Instead of selling, consider returning yours to the company listed in the remote management profile or sending the company a letter explaining how you acquired it and see if they might remove it for you. You might be surprised how many companies simply forgot to remove the profile before liquidating it. Just be prepared to return the iPhone if the company asks you to.

That’s it! How you sell your phone really depends on how “locked” it truly is in terms of data and accessibility. Sometimes it’ll go easy; other times, you’re better off just selling it for parts.

The best way to avoid this is, honestly, not forgetting your passcode. We all have lapses sometimes, but maybe keep it written down and close to the phone, provided it’s somewhere safe. It’ll save you a world of trouble when it’s time to sell it.

Good luck, and maybe don’t lock your new iPhone as easily, yeah?


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