In Short: I’ve tested all three commonly mentioned iPhone 11 and 11 Pro unlock methods: software unlocking, hardware unlocking, and factory (IMEI) unlocking. Software unlocking stopped working when new modems were used in the iPhone 4. Hardware unlocking can work intermittently but will void your warranty and destroy your phone. The means the only reliable way to unlock your iPhone 11 is IMEI unlocking.
I’ve read hundreds of review and tested the top four IMEI unlocking companies. The results of my tests have confirmed that best IMEI unlocking provider is IMEI Doctor.
BEST IPHONE 11/PRO/MAX IMEI UNLOCKS: IMEI DOCTOR
IMEI Doctor is my choice for the best iPhone 11 IMEI unlocking service for one very simple reason: they’re the only iPhone unlocking company that has been able to unlock every iPhone I’ve sent them. This include the iPhone 6, 7, 8, X, and obviously 11/Max/Pro.
On top of this, they’re fast, reasonably priced, and have reliable customer support. The tick every box in an industry riddled with less-than-satisfactory suppliers so they’re an easy #1 choice.
RUNNER UP: DIRECT UNLOCKS
If IMEI Doctor isn’t available, check out Direct Unlocks. They were also able to unlock all four iPhone 11’s I tested and also tick the other boxes (price, speed, and support), but their overall success rate of 80% across every iPhone model I’ve tested means they come up #2 on my list. They still provide a great service and are reliable, just not as reliable as IMEI Doctor.
HOW I REACHED MY CONCLUSIONS
- Why I’m an expert on iPhone Unlocking
- Why you should unlock your iPhone 11/Pro/Max
- Determining the unlock method
- How I picked the companies
- How I tested the companies
- The best iPhone 11 unlock
- The second best iPhone 11 unlock
- The other iPhone 11 unlocks
WHY I’M AN EXPERT ON IPHONE UNLOCKING
To put it simply, I’m an expert on iPhone unlocking because I’ve done this more times than I could possibly count. I ran my own smartphone repair shop for a little more than 8 years and unlocked hundreds and hundreds of iPhones in that time. Since selling that business, I’ve stayed very active in the smartphone space writing hundreds of articles for most of the leading technology websites.
To help make sure I stayed objective in this review (rather than just recommending the suppliers I’ve used and know personally), I’ve recruited three buddies from my smartphone shop days to get their input on what’s happening in the industry.
WHY YOU SHOULD UNLOCK YOUR IPHONE 11/PRO/MAX
There are a few reasons you should unlock your iPhone. These are, in no particular order:
- Be able to get better coverage from a different provider
- Avoid paying massive global roaming fees
- Finding a cheaper provider
- Finding better customer support
- Selling your iPhone 11 or 11 Pro and wanting to get the best sale value
Or, just being able to choose what you’re able to do with an iPhone you’ve paid hundreds of dollars for.
DETERMINING THE UNLOCK METHOD
Determining which unlock method to use was simple for me, given my experience in the space.
I still remember when software unlocking was all the rage. Some very clever people discovered that in some iPhone 3’s if you installed a specific piece of software, you could trick the phone into thinking you were calling from a specific network when you were really calling from a different one.
This worked very consistently until Apple upgraded the modem in the iPhone 4 and stopped this exploit from being used.
Hardware unlock is dangerous. Period. It can damage your phone and void your warranty and unless you’re comfortable destroying your iPhone 11, then you need to stay away from it.
The way hardware unlocking works is by adding a thin casing around your sim card that tricks your phone into thinking you’re calling through a specific network, when really, you could be calling from any network.
I have heard stories about people making this work, but in 99% of cases, it results in one of three things.
- You can’t get the sim card into the slot and so you’ve just wasted money
- You get the sim card in but the sim in mis-aligned so doesn’t work, leaving you out of pocket with nothing to show for it
- You get the sim card in but mis-aligned (so it doesn’t work) and damage the phone getting it out, leaving you with a broken phone that is no longer covered under warranty
Obviously, none of these are ideal so if you value your money and your iPhone 11, don’t waste your time with it.
IMEI OR FACTORY UNLOCKING
IMEI of Factory Unlocking came on the scene when I was still running my smartphone shop and it was a game-changer. It allowed people to move freely between carriers and have the freedom to choose what they did with their iPhone without having to pay thousands in release fees.
The way factory unlocking works is that there’s a database of all the iPhones in the world (using their unique IMEI number) that records whether or not the iPhone is locked to a particular network or able to be used on any network.
IMEI unlocking is where you get someone with access to that database to change the status of your iPhone 11/Pro/Max from locked to unlocked.
This makes it safe, simple, and permanent — increasing the value of your phone, saving you hundreds or thousands in fees and charges, and giving you the freedom to do what you want with the phone you’ve paid for.
The only challenge with this method is that you can’t just login to this database and change the details for yourself. You need an Apple or carrier insider who will change your phone status for you. This is where IMEI unlock providers come in.
HOW I CHOSE THE UNLOCK PROVIDERS
The process of choosing which unlock providers I tested was simple.
The first step was compiling a list of all the providers available. This involved a lot of Googling and reading through various forums and advice sites trying to find any and all players in the market.
The second step was reading online reviews. Unfortunately, this industry is filled with dodgy companies who will try to rip you off and so reading through sites like TrustPilot, TrustReview, and ProductReview allowed me to eliminate obvious scams.
I also asked my old connections from my smartphone shop days about their experiences — who they were using and who they were avoiding — to eliminate anyone who was simply going to take my money and leave me with nothing.
The third step was narrowing the remaining sites down to list of four based on accessibility. I assessed them for things like price, turnaround time, available unlocks, language (English was a necessity), types of payments accepted, and various other factors.
The final step was testing those top four providers with four iPhone 11 unlocks each.
HOW I TESTED THE UNLOCK PROVIDERS
The testing process was fairly simple.
First of all, I asked simple and obvious questions through their customer support channels about unlocking my iPhones. I asked about turnaround time, price, notifications, etc… just to gauge how fast and friendly their customer support was.
I then placed four orders for four different iPhone 11’s through each of the company’s websites — testing the ordering and check process as I went.
Once the orders were placed and confirmed, I reached out to customer support once more to confirm delivery dates to test their patience once again 🙂
The final step was simply to sit and wait for the phones to be unlocked.
I then graded each company on the following 5 criteria:
- Success – Did they unlock all iPhone 11’s I sent?
- Price – How expensive were they in comparison to the competitors?
- Speed – How quickly did they unlock the iPhones?
- Support – How responsive, polite, and courteous was their support team?
- Ease – How difficult was the checkout and unlock process?
These are the results of the unlock tests:
BEST IPHONE 11/PRO/MAX UNLOCK PROVIDER: IMEI DOCTOR (9/10)
The company that produced, as they have always produced across every test I’ve ever run, was IMEI DOCTOR. They were one of two companies that were able to unlock the four iPhone 11’s (three iPhone 11s and one iPhone 11 Pro) I tested.
Their pre-sale customer support was solid. They replied in 45 minutes with the details I needed in an efficient and courteous manner. The site navigation and checkout process was simple, with the unlock easy to find, sign up for, and pay for. Their customer support was once again polite and courteous during the unlock process when I peppered them with obvious questions they’d already answered.
And most importantly, every unlock came back within the delivery window they’d specified.
If I had to pick a fault, they were a touch more expensive than some of the other companies, but as those companies couldn’t deliver the unlocks promised, I’m not going to complain about their price. It also would have been nice to get a discount for unlocking four iPhone 11’s (which they politely declined), but once again, they actually unlocked the phones so I’m not going to complain.
Great experience and all four iPhones are unlocked and back to their satisfied owners in the timeframe they specified. If you need to unlock your iPhone 11, I highly recommend IMEI Doctor.
RUNNER-UP IPHONE 11/PRO/MAX UNLOCK SERVICE: DIRECT UNLOCKS (7.5/10)
Direct Unlocks has consistently landed in second spot in every test I’ve done. While their unlock success rate typically sits around 80%, they actually managed to unlock all four iPhone 11’s in this test (two iPhone 11s, one iPhone 11 Max, and one iPhone 11 Pro).
Their support team responded quickly, though it would have been nicer to get a full response rather than just one sentence telling me the answers. The website navigation is simple and their checkout process was quite simple as well, making that part of the process quite easy.
While they were able to unlock all four iPhone 11s in this test, their overall unlock success rate only sits around 80% across all tests I’ve run. They’re consistent in their communication and will let you know if they can’t unlock the iPhone (with a refund just a request away), but it still does cost you time.
Also, with this test, two of the four unlocks took longer than was originally specified in their estimates. It was only a few days, but it was still outside what I’m guessing is a pretty generous window. While this was communicated throughout the process, it was still annoying to have to wait.
Overall, Direct Unlocks are a a reliable provider capable of delivering (in the majority of cases) or refunding you if they don’t. While this wouldn’t be a glowing endorsement in most other industries, it is in the iPhone unlock space.
OTHER UNLOCK COMPANIES
There are two other iPhone unlock companies I tested, and I don’t recommend either.
The first was iPhoneApprovedUnlocks and they still haven’t refunded my payments after missing deadline after deadline. But, at least they’re responding to my emails. I still can’t get anyone from TheUnlockingCompany to respond to my emails and so I’m about to file a chargeback.
Don’t go anywhere near these two.
If you’re sick of your carrier, don’t want to pay global roaming fees, or want to sell your iPhone 11/Max/Pro, use IMEI Doctor. While they’re not the cheapest, they’re the only iPhone unlock company who have consistently unlocked every iPhone I’ve sent them. When you combine this with their reliable customer service and easy checkout process, you can’t go wrong.
To unlock your iPhone 11/Max/Pro, head to IMEI Doctor now.