Giving an Old iPhone to a Child

A friend recently asked me about using one of their old iPhones as a gaming device for their child. This has become a rather popular thing to do...get the most out of that old device you paid an arm and a leg for! However, this may not always be the best option.

Re-Purpose or Re-Sell

You really have two options when considering what to do with an old iPhone that you have just replaced with a newer phone. Most people assume it is more cost efficient to just hand down the old phone as a gaming device to their child rather than deal with the hassle and fees associated with selling the device. However, there are a few things you should ask yourself:

  • How old is your iPhone? Is it out of warranty?
  • Will the device ever be used as a phone or to make emergency phone calls?
  • How likely is the device to be dropped and damaged?
  • Will the device be used often in public (target for theft)?

In most cases you are actually going to be ahead to sell your old iPhone and buy a new or Apple refurbished iPod Touch if your intention is to just re-purpose your old iPhone as a gaming device. Most likely your iPhone is out of warranty and if you buy a new or refurbished iPod touch you get another full year of coverage plus the option to buy an extended warranty and/or Apple Care+. The nice thing about Apple Care+ is that you get accidental damage protection, so for a small fee ($29 charge for each accidental damage repair or replacement) you can get the device repaired or replaced even when the damage is your fault (i.e. my child wanted to take the iPod touch in the bath tub with him or wanted to see what happened when she put it in the microwave)...that last one actually happened to us! it is always good to have a warranty. Deciding whether to purchase an extended warranty is something only you can decide. With my kids they ended up saving up their money and buying iPad Minis and since this was before Apple came out with Apple Care+ I opted to buy the devices from Walmart and get their warranty which covered accidental damage. Now that Apple has Apple Care+ I would opt to buy from the Apple Refurbished Store online and buy Apple Care+. Ultimately you must decide what makes the most sense for you. If having a $100-$200 repair crop up from out of the blue isn't a big deal then you are probably better off taking your chances without a warranty. In my case, I wanted my kids to take some responsibility for their devices and made them purchase the extended warranty so that damage to device was their responsibility and not mine.

In addition to the benefit of having a newer device with a warranty the iPod Touch has the additional advantage of being less of a target for theft. The iPhone is a larger target for thieves because there is a bigger demand for smart phones as compared to iPod Touches. The iPod Touch is also a lighter device with less components internally than the iPhone (less things to break).

Bottom line...I really think that unless you intend to use the functionality of the phone either right away or some time in the future, you are better off selling your old iPhone and using the money to buy an iPod Touch.

Selling Your Old iPhone

There are two main options when it comes to selling your old iPhone:

  1. Sell it yourself to an individual
  2. Sell it to a 3rd party reseller

There is no doubt that if you want to make the most money, selling it directly to an individual is the way to go. However, you need to keep in mind the time and effort it takes to do this and the fees involved. In many cases you aren't all that much ahead when you sell it yourself. My advice would be this. If you have sold things online before and are comfortable doing it then sell it online (eBay or Amazon). Otherwise, use a 3rd party reseller like Gazelle. The beauty in using a service like Gazelle is that it only takes 2 or 3 minutes to fill out the information online and you are done. In most cases they will even send you a box to ship out your device in. Services like Gazelle really take all of the stress and hassle out of selling your old device. I have used all 3 of the options I just listed above to sell iOS devices (eBay, Amazon and Gazelle). I have been selling items online for a very long time, but even with my comfort level with selling online I have found that sometimes it is worth the convenience to just let a service like Gazelle take care of it for you (especially if your device is in less than perfect condition and you don't want to have to worry about dealing with an unhappy buyer) I keep using Gazelle as an example, but there are several other services like Gazelle out there. I just don't want to mention a service I haven't used and since I have used Gazelle several times with great success I can fully recommend using the service. in case you don't know how a service like Gazelle works, these are the steps involved:

  1. Create an account on their website
  2. Select the device you want to sell to them
  3. Select the condition of the device you are selling (Is it fully functional? Any scratches or dings?)
  4. Select all the accessories that you still have and are selling with the device
  5. Select whether you have your own box or would like them to send you one to use to mail the device to them
  6. They then make you an offer for your device that you can either accept or decline
  7. If you accept, you can either print out a pre-paid shipping label or they send you a box that has a pre-paid shipping label
  8. You anxiously wait for them to receive your device and confirm the condition is what you claimed it was. Sometimes they will determine the device is in better condition than what you claimed and will give you more money and sometimes it is the other way around. In either case you have the option to back out and have the device sent back to you.

One more note on selling your old iPhone. If it is running iOS 7 then it has most likely has Activation Lock enabled. Read my blog post about how to remove Activation Lock before selling your device. If you are using a service like Gazelle they will also walk you through how to remove Activation Lock from your device.

Buying an iPod Touch

One of the biggest secrets in the Apple community is the Apple Refurbished Store within Apple's online store. I'm not sure why more people don't know about this and take advantage of the lower prices. Maybe it's because people are apprehensive about buying something that is "used". Let me explain what "Apple Refurbished" means. When you buy an Apple Refurbished device you are buying a device that has lightly used internal components with a brand new external case. So you get the the same brand new looking device on the outside,but what about the used portions on the inside? This is where people think that buying refurbished is a disadvantage. It really isn't. You see, when you buy a brand new device the odds are that the device you just bought has never been thoroughly tested (probably just turned on to ensure that it functions). Only a very small percentage of new devices are pulled from the assembly line and put through a full series of testing. That isn't the case with Apple Refurbished devices. Every Apple Refurbished device is fully tested to ensure that the used components are functioning properly. If you opt to not get an extended warranty with your devices this is a really big deal. By testing out a device before shipping Apple is able to weed out any devices with any signs of issues, making it much less likely for your device to have problems both while it is under warranty and after the warranty expires. Also, when you buy Apple Refurbished you have the option to buy Apple Care and Apple Care+ just like you do with a brand new device. In my opinion there really is no down side to buying Apple Refurbished.

Tips For Your New Device

Now that you have taken my advice and purchased a new or refurbished iPod Touch with the proceeds from your old iPhone there are a few things I recommend you do with that device when setting it up:

  1. Register your device with Apple when prompted during the setup
  2. When prompted during the setup, opt to turn on "Find My iPhone". When you turn on "Find my iPhone" on a device running iOS 7 you are also enabling [Activation Lock][Lock]. Activation Lock essentially makes it a useless device for a would-be thief. If you don't already have an Apple ID then sign up for one if only for the Activation Lock and Find My iPhone features.
  3. Install the free Apple iOS App "Find my Friends" on your other iOS device, or if you don't have one bookmark website so you can quickly logon and find your new iPod Touch should it or your child become lost.
  4. Enable parental controls on the device, especially the option within parental controls to disable In-App purchases.
  5. Consider using Open DNS on your home internet network. It is a free service that blocks all internet traffic in your house from accessing certain types of websites and content. This is a great service if you have older kids that need to be able to browse the web but you don't want them accidentally or intentionally viewing something they shouldn't be viewing. If you have a younger child that doesn't need access to a web browser just simply deactivate Safari within the Parental Controls.
  6. Turn on the option to backup the device to iCloud. You get 5 Gb of free storage with your free iCloud account so use it.
  7. In addition to backing up to iCloud, setup a regular reminder (once a month or so) to physically connect the device to your computer and back it up through iTunes. If something goes wrong with your iCloud backup or it suddenly stops backing up to iCloud then having a local backup on your computer can be a real life saver!

And I thought this was going to be a really short post...

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