In Short: There are three commonly available iPhone 8/Plus unlock methods: software, hardware, and IMEI (factory) unlocking. Software unlocking was made obsolete when Apple upgraded the modem on the iPhone 4 and hardware unlocking will break your iPhone and void your warranty. The only reliable, safe, and effective iPhone 8 unlock method is IMEI unlocking.
I’ve reviewed and tested every iPhone 8/Plus IMEI unlock provider on the market today. The results of my tests clearly indicate IMEI Doctor as the best provider on the market.
BEST IPHONE 8/Plus IMEI UNLOCKS: IMEI DOCTOR
IMEI Doctor is the best iPhone 8 unlock provider on the market because they’re the ONLY unlock provider to unlock every iPhone I’ve sent for every test, including: iPhone 6, 7, X, 11, and obviously iPhone 8.
When you add in that they’re reasonably priced (not the cheapest, but not overpriced), have great support, and a simple checkout process, they’re a clear #1 choice. If you want to unlock your iPhone 8 or 8 Plus today, head toIMEI Doctor
SECOND BEST: DIRECT UNLOCKS
If, for some bizarre reason, you can’t use IMEI Doctor, Direct Unlocks is a reasonable second choice. They’ve tested consistently well across every test I’ve run (a combined 80% success rate with all models combined) and managed to unlock three of the four iPhone 8s in this test. When you combine that with their decent customer service, reasonable turn-around time, and ease of use, they’re a great second choice.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on IMEI Doctor, give Direct Unlocks a try.
HOW I CAME UP WITH MY RECOMMENDATIONS
- Why you can trust my recommendations
- Why you should unlock your iPhone 8
- Choosing the unlock method
- Choosing the unlock companies
- My testing process
- My #1 Recommended iPhone 8 Unlock
- My #2 iPhone 8 Unlock
- Other Unlock Companies
WHY YOU CAN TRUST MY RECOMMENDATIONS
You can trust my recommendations because I have more experience with iPhone unlocking than just about anyone on the face of this planet. I ran a smartphone repair shop for 8 years and in that time, complete hundreds, if not thousands, of iPhone unlocks. Since selling that business, I’ve written hundreds of articles on most major tech websites about everything to do with smartphones — including unlocking. If that’s not enough, I regularly consult with friends still in the unlocking industry regarding these guides to ensure what I’m posting is accurate and unbiased.
GOOD REASONS TO UNLOCK YOUR IPHONE 8/PLUS
There’s more than one good reason to unlock your iPhone. Here are the top ones off the top of my head:
- Getting better coverage from a new provider
- Not having to pay global roaming fees
- Getting cheaper call and data rates
- Getting better customer support
- Getting a higher resale price when you decide to move on from your iPhone 8
And finally, just being able to do what you want with the product you paid good money for.
CHOOSING THE UNLOCK METHOD
There are three different commonly mentioned unlock methods for iPhone 8/Plus and so the first step is determining which one to use. This was not a hard choice considering that two of them are useless…
When software unlocking first made it to the market, it blew my mind. Some very clever kids worked out that if you ran a jailbreak on your phone and uploaded some specifically designed through a specific carrier, when in fact, you were calling through a different carrier. I performed many of these for customers who were all very happy with the outcome.
The only issue with this is that it relied on your iPhone having a particular modem installed, which was phased out by the time the iPhone 4 was released. So, unless you accidentally typed iPhone 8 instead of iPhone 3, you’re out of luck with software unlocking.
Hardware unlocking was the next method to land on the scene. Some other clever kids realized that you could wrap your SIM card in a cover that tricked the iPhone into thinking you were calling through one carrier when you were in fact calling through another.
This sounded great in theory until you stopped to analyze the logistics of the unlock. Have you looked at the slot for your SIM card? It’s not exactly bulging with additional space… In my experience, hardware unlocking resulted in one of three outcomes:
- The SIM card wouldn’t fit, making it not effective
- The SIM card would fit, but it wasn’t aligned correctly and so wouldn’t work
- The SIM card did fit but damaged the SIM housing on the way in and broke the phone (as well as voiding the warranty)
I don’t know you and we’ve probably never met, but I can guess none of these are what you’re looking for. Which leaves us with one option…
IMEI OR FACTORY UNLOCKING
IMEI unlocking is the only safe and reliable iPhone unlocking service.
The way it works is that there’s a global database that has every iPhone ever produced on it. Alongside the iPhone’s details are it’s locked/unlocked status. IMEI unlocking is getting that status changed from locked to unlocked.
This is done by an industry insider who has access to the database and the permissions necessary to change the locked status, making it the ONLY safe, simple, and permanent iPhone 8 unlock method.
The only downside to this method is that neither you, nor I, have access to this database. This is where IMEI unlock providers come in.
HOW I CHOSE THE UNLOCK PROVIDERS
My method for choosing the unlock providers to test is relatively straight-forward.
It starts with compiling a list of all unlock providers available on the market. As this list changes from month-to-month, it can sometimes take a few hours to update the list from the last time I performed this test.
The second step is to eliminate obvious scam sites through reading online reviews. I come through different review websites (like TrustPilot, TrustReviews, and Reviews.io) to discover who is a legitimate provider and who are simply trying to steal your money.
To confirm that I’ve found everyone worth looking at, I also run this list past my old connections in the smartphone industry. They’re able to provide the latest information on who’s worth using and who’s worth staying away from.
The third step in my process is to narrow down the list to companies worth testing. I’m only able to access a certain amount of iPhones for every test and so need to make sure I’m testing quality sites. My criteria for narrowing down the sites involves looking at their range and accessibility and choosing ones most likely to be useful to those reading this review. For this, I make sure they’re in English, they accept a wide range of reliable payment forms, and have a wide range of unlocks available.
The final step in the process is to put the top 4 providers to the test. To do this, I purchase four unlocks for four different iPhone 8s and then see how they go.
HOW I TESTED THE UNLOCK PROVIDERS
Determing who was the best unlock provider available was a fairly straightforward, 4-step process..
Step number one was buzzing their pre-sale customer support. I found their support contact details on their website and asked them relatively simple questions about their unlocks (turnaround time, cost, notifications, what to do afterwards, etc…). This was just a simple test to see how kind, polite, and responsive their support was.
The second step was the go through their checkout process to assess how simple and logical it was. I found the unlock I wanted on their website, entered the necessary details, added the order to my cart, and paid. This was a test to see how logical and straightforward their purchasing process is.
I then waited for 2 days after my order had been confirmed to buzz their customer support again. I asked questions about delivery time and what I needed to do after the unlock had been processed to once again test how well their support handled my questions.
The last step in the process was to kick back and see just how well they kept their promises.
The four companies were then graded on the following five criteria:
- Success – Were they able to complete the unlocks I ordered?
- Price – Where did they rank in terms of price?
- Speed – How long did it take for them to unlock the iPhones?
- Support – How easy and effective were they to deal with?
- Ease – Did the checkout process present any significant challenges?
This is the results of the tests:
FIRST PLACE IPHONE 8 UNLOCK PROVIDER: IMEI DOCTOR (9/10)
IMEI Doctor, once again, was the best performing iPhone 8 unlock provider. They were the only company who unlocked all four iPhone 8s (1 x iPhone 8 and 3 x iPhone 8 Plus) and one of two companies that were able to unlock ANY iPhones…
The process started well with their pre-sale customer support. They responded quickly to my messages (23 minutes, 18 minutes 31 minutes, and 33 minutes) and gave me everything I needed to know if a polite and efficient manner. Purchasing the unlocks was simple and their website was well laid out. Their customer support excelled at the mid-process check-in with all the information I needed and like I said, they unlocked every iPhone 8 I ordered — all inside their specified delivery window.
There are two things that I guess could be labelled as ‘cons’ but they’re not significant in any way. The first is that they’re slightly more expensive than two of the other unlock providers I tested, but given that neither of those two were able to unlock any of the iPhones they were supposed to, I’m not going to judge them too harshly for that :-) The second is that I requested a discount for purchasing four unlocks and they declined to give me one. To be fair, they were polite in declining (they explained that their costs were fixed by the people performing the unlocks and had no flexibility in their pricing) and have never given me a discount despite purchasing more than 200 unlocks through them, but it still would have been nice to score this one :-)
All in all, a great experience. They delivered what I paid for in the time frame they promised while keeping me in the loop the whole time. If you need your iPhone 8 unlocked, head to IMEI Doctor now.
SECOND PLACE IPHONE 8 UNLOCK SERVICE: DIRECT UNLOCKS (7.5/10)
Direct Unlocks are a reasonable second option if you can’t get IMEI Doctor to work for you. They’re in second place to IMEI Doctor due to a lower success rate in both this test, and overall.
Direct Unlocks has been my second choice for iPhone unlocks on just about every test I’ve run. They have a lower success rate unlocking phones than IMEI Doctor, but are comparable on customer support, pricing, ease of checkout, and delivery times.
Their support team is efficient, if not a little blunt. Their website is easy enough to find your way around if you know what you’re looking for, their prices are comparable to the only other website that is actually able to deliver on their promises (IMEI Doctor), and when they do unlock your iPhone, they usually do it in the window they promise.
As I mentioned before, the reason they’re #2 is that they failed to unlock one of the four iPhone 8s. To be fair, they communicated that they might not be able to unlock this iPhone 8 Plus as they’d been having trouble with Softbank unlocks as soon as I placed the order, but it’s still a failure.
Direct Unlocks are a solid outfit who try to provide the services they offer, in what is traditionally a challenging market. They do this with good enough support and a reliable website, but sometimes, they’re just not able to live up to their promises.
If you can’t access IMEI Doctor and are looking for a reliable second option, Direct Unlocks is the best place to head.
OTHER UNLOCK COMPANIES
I tested two other iPhone unlock companies and I can’t recommend either of them. In fact, the only recommendation I can make is to stay right away from them.
Official Sim Unlock was the first company I tried. They have a nice looking website and some impressive reviews. At this point in time, it looks like both of are just an elaborate way to try and scam you out of money. I still haven’t received any unlocks or refunds yet and we’re WELL past their promised deadlines. iPhone Approved Unlocks is the second one with a flashy website and while they weren’t able to unlock any iPhones, they did at least refund my payments.
Don’t waste your time with these two.
Being locked to a less-than-optimal network sucks. Poor quality service, limited connectivity, global roaming fees, and a low sale price FOR A PRODUCT YOU OWN is just not fair. If you want to get away from these and take control of your life, unlock your iPhone 8 with IMEI Doctor. They’re the only iPhone 8 unlock company that has consistently delivered on every unlock I’ve ever ordered. In an industry full of people who promise the world and deliver nothing, that’s saying something.
To unlock your iPhone 8 today, head to IMEI Doctor now.