There are claims that you have three different ways to unlock the iPhone X that say they work, but unlocking your iPhone is a process that has changed many times since the first was released. Starting with the iPhone 3, the ability to unlock using software stopped working. The second method, unlocking through the hardware, voids your warranty and will damage your iPhone. That leaves the IEMI unlock, or factory unlock, as the only way to unlock the iPhone X that you can depend on.
After searching through hundreds of IMEI unlock reviews, I put the top 4 companies through their paces. After doing so, it’s obvious that Doctor Unlock leads the pack if you’re looking to unlock your iPhone X.
MY PICK: DOCTOR UNLOCK
Once the tests were done, Doctor Unlock wound up the top choice to unlock your iPhone X because they’re the only company that has unlocked every single iPhone we’ve sent them, including the iPhone X. They’re priced very reasonably, have fantastic support for their customers and get results very quickly. Honestly, the battle for first wasn’t even close.
To unlock your iPhone X, head to Doctor Unlock now.
RUNNER-UP: Direct Unlocks
For some, Doctor Unlock might not be an option. If not, the clear second choice is Direct Unlocks. While they haven’t been able to unlock every phone we’ve sent them, they have maintained an 80% average across all tests. They’re very responsive to requests, and are very timely with honest, straightforward communication. In the cases where the unlock wasn’t completed, Direct Unlocks took less than 48 hours to process our refund.
If you aren’t able to access Doctor Unlock, Direct Unlocks is a reasonable second place.
- Why listen to me
- Should you do this
- How I chose
- How did I test them
- The Champ
- Second place
- The rest
- Final thoughts
Why listen to me?
This is not the first time I’ve done this…far from it. After owning my own smartphone repair shop for 8 years, I’ve unlocked thousands of phones. I sold that business then went on to write over 100 articles about smartphone technology for leading tech websites. I know what I’m talking about.
It’s not just my opinion, either; to make sure my previous experiences haven’t clouded my judgement, I have three smartphone repair store owners that have their own experience at unlocking phones for customers.
Should you do this
Is this something you need to do? Well, if you
- Don’t get good coverage from your service provider and want to change
- Travel overseas, but don’t want the expense of outrageous global roaming fees
- Want to find a cheaper provider than your current one, because you feel you’re being overcharged
- Aren’t happy with the customer support your current provider gives you
Another reason you might want to consider unlocking your iPhone X is if you want to avoid paying your carrier up to several hundred dollars before you can do whatever you want with your phone, whenever you want to.
How I chose
The first two steps in my process for choosing a winner weren’t very hard; removing software and hardware unlocking from the list.
Back in the days of the iPhone 3, some models used a specific set of modems. Once you had jailbroken your iPhone 3, one simple piece of software would fool your service provider into treating your phone as “unlocked”, which let you use a SIM card from any provider you wanted to use. While it was a very effective way to unlock an iPhone (I used this method to unlock a lot of iPhone 3’s, and was always impressed with how well it worked), it didn’t last.
When the iPhone 4 was released, one of the new “features” was to close off the software method of unlocking an iPhone, and no replacement using just software has been found to date.
Once software unlocking was ended, the next method that gained popularity was hardware unlocking. This method was simple in theory; you placed any SIM card inside a thin skin, then inserted it into your phone. The skin would mask the SIM signal, fooling the phone into thinking the SIM card in the phone was actually from the carrier your phone was locked into using.
You may see the problem with this method, and the reason it never had a high success rate. The SIM slot is a very tight fit; placing a skin over a SIM and then trying to ram it into the slot resulted in one of three things happening:
- The SIM wouldn’t fit into the slot
- The SIM would somehow fit, but it wouldn’t line up properly and wouldn’t work at all
- While trying to ram the skinned SIM into the slot, you would damage the slot, breaking your iPhone completely
I saw this method work exactly one time. However, the estimated quarter of a million other people that tried this method (actually a few more than that; the rough estimate is around 278,000) not only didn’t manage to unlock their phone, they also voided their warranty. Hardware unlocking sounds good in theory but in practice…not a good choice.
IMEI or Factory Unlocking
That left just one method to consider; IMEI (sometimes called “Factory unlocking”). This is simple, easy, and an incredibly reliable unlocking procedure. IMEI stands for the International Mobile Equipment Identifier database, and your phone is listed in it with a status; it’s that status that locks your phone to just one carrier. Change your phone’s status in the IMEI database, and just like that, your phone is unlocked. No software, no hardware to cram into your SIM slot; it’s easy, but there’s a catch.
The general public can’t access the IMEI database; only a trusted industry insider can make changes to a phone’s status. Unlock providers have trusted industry connections inside phone carriers that can change the status of your phone, unlocking it with no trouble.
There are many different businesses that offer this service, so I needed a way to “grade” them to try to pick the best one.
That turned out to be a lot easier than I was afraid it was going to be.
The five-point grading scale I used to rank each provider tested was:
- The “Do It” factor – Did they actually succeed in unlocking all IMEI I paid them to unlock?
- Cost – How expensive were they, compared to other providers?
- Quickness – How fast were they at unlocking the iPhones I paid for?
- Responsiveness – This was the grade for customer support; were they polite, courteous and responsive, and how did they rank when compared to the rest
- Simplicity – How hard (or easy) was the process?
Believe it or not, I shouldn’t have spent the time creating five different areas to grade; as is always the case when grading iPhone unlock tests, the first one made the choice easy: was every phone I paid to have unlock actually unlocked?
There was only one provider that managed a 100% success rate, which made them an easy choice for number 1. Number 2 wasn’t really any more difficult to pick, because while they didn’t unlock every iPhone I sent, they were the only provider to unlock ANY of them.
That’s right; every single other provider I tested failed to unlock even one iPhone for me.
How I tested
Of course, I didn’t just start sending iPhones to every single company in existence; that was the final step in my 3-step process.
Step one was to mark any provider off the list that was obviously a scam. This is one of the areas where the three other smartphone repair shop owners I mentioned earlier. They helped me strike eleven providers from the list that they verified would be glad to take my money but not provide any actual service.
The test was a three-stage process.
The first step involved eliminating any provider who was an obvious scam. This started by getting the feedback of those who unlock other people’s phones for a living – the three smartphone repair store owners who’re assisting with this review. They were able to identify 11 unlock providers who were going to take our money and provide nothing in return and they were eliminated from the review process.
Step two was to do my homework; I read and analyzed reviews of the providers that were left after Step one. I combed through four different review sites and read over fifty reviews for each of the providers left on my list, marking off any that had a rating worse than three stars (as long as it was obvious that there were really problems; I did my best to eliminate fake reviews from influencing my decision).
After Step two, there were only four companies left, so it was time to put them to work. I purchased four iPhone X unlocks from each of these four companies, and ranked each of them on the scale I mentioned above. (Again, this was incredibly easy, as only two of the four succeeded in unlocking ANY of them.) The winner?
After working through the testing process, this is what I found.
The Winner: Doctor Unlock – 9.5/10 (The best iPhone X unlock provider)
The very best iPhone X unlock provider is clear; Doctor Unlock. Again, they were the only company that unlocked every single iPhone X we paid them to unlock (something they’ve done for every iPhone model I’ve tested them on, including iCloud accounts.
The checkout process was easy and the payment system was simple to use. This may seem a strange thing to mention, but this isn’t the case with a lot of iPhone unlock providers.
The average response rate from their customer service department was less than two hours; they were very helpful, and remained polite even when answering questions their website already covered.
The most important factor? It just worked. A smooth checkout and payment system, a confirmation email arriving two minutes after payment was made, unlock confirmation emails came quickly and the instructions on how to reset the phones to “activate” the unlock were simple and easy to follow.
Choosing the number one recommendation on this list was very easy:
My recommendation is to use Doctor Unlock to unlock your iPhone X.
Second place: Direct Unlocks (Give them a shot to unlock your iPhone X)
If you can’t use Doctor Unlock, give Direct Unlocks a try. They only managed to unlock half of the iPhone X’s I sent them for this test, but in other tests on previous models, they had an average success rate over eighty percent. This puts them a million miles ahead of third place.
Success rate wasn’t the only category they trailed Doctor Unlock in; the unlocks they were able to perform were complete within four days, the website wasn’t too difficult to use, and the prices were better than most, yet still fifteen to twenty percent higher than Doctor Unlock.
They do get full credit for their customer support, though; they were impressive. Courteous, friendly, very helpful, extremely responsive…it would be hard to ask for more.
Even when they failed to unlock a phone, refunds were sent within 48 hours.
If you can’t use Doctor Unlock for some reason,
They did perform very well on the customer support test, though. They were extremely responsive, very helpful, and impressively courteous and friendly. And when they couldn’t unlock two of the iPhones, they sent refunds within 48 hours.
If you can’t use Doctor Unlock for one reason or another, Direct Unlocks is a good (albeit slightly higher) substitute.
The only other company I gave a shot at unlocking iPhone X for me was Sim Unlock. They had been less than impressive in the past, but I found out they had new management, so they deserved a chance. And yes, there were some improvements; the checkout experience was much better, and customer support has noticeably improved, but in the end they still managed to unlock NONE of the four iPhones I paid for.
They did refund all four payments, but it took multiple threats to escalate the matter before the refunds were made.
Software and hardware unlocking are not methods worth trying. The only truly effective way to unlock your iPhone X is IMEI unlocking. I started with a list of 20 iPhone unlock providers, actually tested three, and I feel very confident recommending the only one that gave me a 100% success rate: Doctor Unlock.
Inexpensive, fast, great customer support and (last but not least) when I’ve sent an iPhone to them, it’s been unlocked. Every time.
Want to unlock your iPhone X? The best choice is Doctor Unlock.