Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to factory reset an iPhone

Factory resetting your iPhone is an extreme measure, but one that’s worth doing if your trusty Apple handset has slowed right down or you’re planning on selling it. So, here’s our guide on how to factory reset an iPhone.

What does the factory reset option on iPhone actually do?

A factory reset restores your smartphone to its original state, the way it was before you pulled it out of the box. In the process, all of your personal data is wiped from the handset, including your email accounts, photos and messages. Any apps that you’ve downloaded will also be stripped out. Only the apps that came pre-installed on the phone will remain.

Likewise, any security settings will be deleted from your iPhone, including your PIN and Face ID information.

Related: iPhone 11 Pro review

When should I factory reset my iPhone?

The main reason for performing a factory reset is wiping a device before you pass it onto someone else. For instance, you might be gifting it to a lucky relative when you upgrade your own handset, or selling it online.

This is the only real way to ensure that your personal data will be cleansed from the iPhone, so your private info, account details and other sensitive bits won’t fall into someone else’s hands. Personally, we like to do a couple of wipes, just to be one hundred percent sure.

Related: How to download iOS 13 and iPadOS right now

What should I do before the factory reset?

Before you even think about doing a full wipe, you’ll want to backup all of your important data. The easiest way to do this on an iPhone is by using Apple’s iCloud service.

Using iCloud will backup your important stuff online, so you can quickly retrieve it all again on another iOS device. You should do this if you’re swapping to another iPhone, for a near-seamless transition.

To get started, head to your mobile’s settings and tap on your account, before selecting iCloud. Hit the ‘back up now’ option and your data will be uploaded to Apple’s servers. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you have enough iCloud storage space remaining, otherwise you’ll be treated to an error message and pestered to upgrade. If you don’t have enough room and you don’t want to throw extra money at Apple, just log onto iCloud on a computerusing your Apple ID. Then you can delete any old stuff you don’t need, like ancient backups.

Alternatively, you can make a local backup of your essential files using iTunes instead. Just connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes (making sure you have the latest version downloaded). Click on your device’s icon and you should see a ‘Back up now’ option appear in the main screen. Follow the instructions that pop up and the backup will be created.

We’d also recommend copying all of your photos to a folder on your computer, just to be sure. Once your important bits are all replicated, it’s time to perform the reset.

Related: iPhone 11 vs iPhone XR – should you upgrade?

How do I factory reset my iPhone?

The actual wiping process is very straightforward, although you should make sure that your iPhone is plugged in and at least half-charged before beginning.

When you’re ready, just head into your mobile’s settings menu and tap General, followed by Reset. In this menu you’ll find the ‘Erase all content and settings’ option. Give that a poke and the factory reset will begin. You’ll need to enter your Apple ID information one last time, to prove that it’s really you doing the wiping. With that done, set your iPhone aside and it’ll be cleansed in just a few minutes.


Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.