I have been helping visitors to this website unlock their iPhone 8 and 8+ smartphones to use on a different network since they were released back in 2017.
This popular article has helped many readers to successfully unlock their handset with my easy-to-follow steps for the last 3 years.
Keep on reading to find out how to easily use a SIM from another carrier in your smartphone…
Table of Contents
Soon after the iPhone 8 was released I got people contacting me asking about network unlocking it.
There were many reasons people wanted their device unlocked such as getting access to cheaper competitors or having better coverage after moving.
Many of those I spoke to thought that they could simply put a new SIM from another carrier into their smartphone and it would connect and work. However, this isn’t always the case especially if you have a phone on a monthly contract. These contracts usually lock you to the carrier and prevent you from moving.
Even some iPhones that have been bought outright have restrictions that prevent you from using another carrier’s SIM card. If you put a different SIM card in your phone a message will say ‘invalid SIM’ and you can’t make any calls.
With my in-depth experience of Apple smartphones, I knew the solution was likely to be network unlocking the iPhone 8 – as this method successfully worked with previous models.
If you don’t want to read the entire article here my recommendations for unlocking your iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.
If you are stuck with a carrier that you are unhappy with I advise you to go to IMEIdoctor and have your device network unlocked. DoctorUnlock offers a vast number of unlocking services for English speaking countries. After doing a thorough review of many providers available I concluded they offer a great service for a fair price and recommend them.
If you are in a non-English speaking country I would suggest using DirectUnlocks. They have a better selection of services particularly for carriers outside the native English speaking countries such as the USA, UK, and Australia.
Here are the most important conclusions I found when researching how to unlock an iPhone 8 (or 8 Plus):
- There are 4 unlock methods that are claimed to be suitable
- Hardware unlocking & software unlocking are dangerous and can cause permanent damage
- R-SIM unlocking is unreliable
- Only 1 carrier unlocking method works effectively and is recommended by Apple. That method is networking unlocking (also known as SIM, IMEI or factory unlocking)
- Apple can’t network unlock your iPhone, only your carrier or third-party services can
- Your own carrier may refuse to unlock your iPhone if you don’t meet certain conditions such as being with them for 6 months, having no outstanding debt, and being the original owner
- Third-party unlockers can unlock your device without conditions, although the quality of service varies greatly between them
I know your pain:
You want to save some money on your call charges but you are tied to your carrier.
This means you are stuck paying too much.
If only you could use a different SIM card in your iPhone from a cheaper carrier you could save a fortune.
But when you try a different SIM you get an error message. You are stuck with your carrier.
Or are you?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get rid of the error message and use any SIM card?
I’m sure you would be delighted.
Well, you are in luck, you can…
…this article will explain how to SIM unlock your device so you can use it on any cellular network you want – without restrictions.
Read on to find out more about factory / SIM unlocking and free your iPhone from all restrictions.
There are 4 methods of unlocking.
How to do a software unlock
Unfortunately, software unlocking stopped working when the iPhone 4 was released in 2010.
This hasn’t stopped a huge number of websites springing up offering a software unlock service.
Don’t be fooled by their persuasive content and promises. It simply doesn’t work.
You should not pay for this service on a modern iPhone as it is a waste of money.
Avoid these websites as they are a scam.
How to do a hardware unlock
Hardware unlocking is when you get a dealer to open up your iPhone and make some changes to the internal workings to ‘get around’ the lock.
This involves using a soldering iron to modify the internals. They normally add a new chip that runs some code that stops the iPhone from being linked to a single carrier.
The only dealers willing to do such work are found on the back streets of major cities.
They are completely unauthorized by Apple to do this work. So when you have your device opened by an unauthorized dealer like this you immediately void the warranty.
As if that wasn’t risky enough this type of intrusive work has a very high failure rate. This leaves you with a broken iPhone with no warranty.
It is often an expensive job too – with costs of up to $300 USD with no guarantee of success. This makes it a very expensive risk to take.
Personally, I wouldn’t do it.
How to do an R-SIM unlock
What is an R-SIM?
The R-Sim is a small computer chip the same size as a micro-SIM called an interposer.
The interposer sits underneath the SIM, inside the SIM tray in your iPhone 8.
Once in place, it bypasses the SIM check and allows you to use any SIM in your iPhone.
You need to keep this in place at all times to ensure your iPhone stays unlocked.
Problems with R- SIM hack
- It doesn’t work properly on all networks.
- Due to network issues, some features won’t work properly such as Facetime & iMessenger.
- If your phone loses power or reception you have to perform the process again.
- Your device will have a weaker phone signal causing dropouts.
- Your smartphone may overheat or have reduced battery life due to the extra hardware.
- It voids your Apple warranty.
How to do a network unlock
Network unlocking is the best method to unlock iPhone 8 because:
- It doesn’t void your warranty on your device or requires you to download unauthorized and potentially dangerous software
- It doesn’t require you to have your phone opened or have any internal changes made to the hardware
- You don’t have to buy any additional bits to push into the SIM tray
- It just works – you make a request and your phone is marked as being unlocked on the cell carrier’s database
- It is the method Apple recommend
What is an iPhone 8 network lock?
A network lock (which is also known as a SIM lock, IMEI lock or a factory lock) is a restriction that forces you to only use a SIM card from the carrier that you bought your phone from originally.
If you attempt to put a SIM from another carrier you will get an error message saying:
‘SIM Not Valid’
You won’t be able to make any phone calls or send any text messages while the message appears.
This issue normally occurs when the iPhone was bought from a carrier as part of a contract. Within the contract fee you pay for the handset and the call charges over 12, 24 or 36 months.
In order to stop you from switching to a cheaper call provider they tie your phone to their network.
Network locking is actually illegal in Israel, Singapore & China.
However, regardless of the local laws it is perfectly legal to unlock a smartphone.
Is it a good idea?
Yes, for the following reasons:
- You can your costs by getting a ‘SIM only’ deal from the carrier of your choice
- Unlike a hardware lock, your iPhone does not need to be opened
- It won’t invalidate your iPhone warranty
- It is safe and reliable unlike an R-SIM or Gevey unlocking solution
- It isn’t expensive compared to other options
- It works regardless of what carrier you use
- You can use your iPhone normally, with no restrictions
- It is a permanent solution
- You have a wide choice of unlocking companies to choose from
This is the only way to safely unlock your device.
iPhone 8 Network unlocking instructions
Rest assured this is the best way to unlock your iPhone safely:
- Request your unlock from a reputable supplier
- Wait 3-5 days for it to be processed
- Finalize it by following the instructions provided
- Test it worked!
You will find more details on these steps below.
1: Request your unlock from a reputable supplier
You have the choice of requesting it from:
- Your mobile cell network
- A reputable unlocking company
You will likely find that your own carrier isn’t the quickest or the cheapest option. Unbelievably some won’t allow you to have your iPhone unlocked as it is still under contract.
Even if they will allow you to unlock it the fee may be high.
Tip: If you want a cheaper, and faster option I suggest you try one of the companies we reviewed below.
We thoroughly reviewed a huge number of suppliers to see which offered the best service. Only the top quality suppliers made our shortlist.
2: Wait for it to be processed
Carriers can be quite slow and processing unlocks. In the UK this process can take 15-30 days as it isn’t particularly lucrative. It is also a sign that you are likely to leave your current supplier so they can drag their feet.
Normally you will be informed that it has been processed via an email or text message. Until you receive this notification arrives it is a case of waiting. And waiting. And waiting…
3. Finalize it on your iPhone
When you get your unlock notification it normally comes with a set of instructions.
These will explain the steps you need to take in order to finalize the unlock.
This can be a simple as rebooting your iPhone or it may require a factory reset. This depends on the unlocker you used.
The unlockers we have on our shortlist have a simple finalization process that makes your life as simple as possible. No need for complex or confusing instructions.
4. Check your iPhone was unlocked properly
Once finalized, you should try a SIM from another carrier to see if it has worked.
You shouldn’t get the dreaded ‘SIM Not Valid’ message if it worked.
If this does appear you may need to repeat step 3 (above). The more complex the finalisation the more likely it will not work and you will have to repeat it.
The most reputable suppliers for unlocking
There is a lot of choices when it comes to unlocking your beloved iPhone.
Unfortunately, many of the companies that advertise these services are unreliable or, even worse, scammers.
How are you going tell which is which?
Well, you are in luck.
We have spent time reviewing these companies to create a shortlist of the best.
Read on to find out our recommendations.
In a rush:
If you haven’t got time to study my review you’ll be interested to know the best unlockers was IMEIdoctor.
They were able to unlock all our iPhone 8 models in a couple of days.
Their pricing starts at £25 ($30). This is really good value for such a high-quality service. Be aware that price depends on your specific network and location so it may cost a little more.
Read more about why we believe they were best here.
How I conducted this review
Let me describe how I organized the tests.
Firstly, I had to compile a list of companies that offered networking unlocking. This was a lengthy process doing Google searches to find as many companies as possible that offered the service.
The next step was to evaluate their website. Did it look genuine? Were the claims realistic? Was there a way to get in touch with them?
Next, I emailed them to make sure there was a ‘real person’ behind the website. Someone who was in authority and could help me answer any questions I had.
This reduced the list to 10.
Next, I did some further online research. I checked what customers thought on the review sites such as TrustPilot, RipooffReport, and TrustmarkReviews. If the feedback was poor I took them off our shortlist.
This left me with 5 prospects.
At this point, I enlisted the help of my community here at iChimp. I asked for people who wanted there iPhone unlocked to get in touch so I could try out the service of each prospect. I got a list of volunteers from around the globe.
This resulted in me having 20 different models of iPhone that members wanted unlocking:
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
Everyone emailed me their IMEI code together with their iPhone model. I then placed orders with each of the top 5 suppliers to try out their service.
The review criteria
I decided to review each supplier based on 4 criteria:
- Was it successfully unlocked?
- Customer care
Was it successfully unlocked?
The most fundamental thing – did they manage to do the network unlock. A straight yes or no.
If they can’t manage to provide the service that was requested then they were immediately removed from my list.
The prices varied greatly. And it didn’t always follow that the most expensive option offered the best service.
Realizing price is important we ranked suppliers based on cost.
We wanted the unlocking done as quickly as possible. If you are paying for a premium service you want to have a quick turnaround.
We ranked each of the companies by how quickly they managed to do the unlock.
Once they had our money we wanted to test how responsive the customer support was.
We evaluated each based on how quickly the responded and whether they actually answered our questions.
We also noted how warm and friendly they were.
In addition, we also paid attention to how well they kept us informed of our orders status.
IMEIdoctor is our top performers managing to network unlock every iPhone 8 model.
They are well priced from £25 (around $30 USD) to £105 (around $130 USD). Exact pricing depends on your location and network.
They were incredibly fast managing to unlock every phone we supplied within 2-3 days. It is worth mentioning that the speed is dependant on your location. This is mentioned when you place your order so you know what you will pay before you buy it.
I appreciated this honesty.
Customer services were excellent with informative responses within the hour. I could only dream of such good service from a carrier.
IMEIdoctor can perform unlocks worldwide and accept a huge range of payment methods. They also have 2 payment gateways so if you are having a problem with one, you can try the other. Payment issues can be commonplace in certain countries so this flexibility is welcome.
If you want your iPhone 8 unlocked, then I’d be happy to recommend IMEIdoctor.
How to use IMEIdoctor
Some visitors to this page said they were a bit confused about ordering from IMEIdoctor so I have written this step-by-step tutorial to make it easy.
2. A new field will pop open asking for the IMEI number. There are 4 ways of getting this code:
- On your iPhones keypad dial *#06#
- Click Settings > General > About on your phone then scroll down and you will see the IMEI listed
- Look at the back of your device and you should see your IMEI printed in really small text (for some models)
- Pop-out the SIM tray of your device using a paperclip and the IMEI is written on it (for some models)
6. Your iPhone will be unlocked in 1-3 working days.
2nd: Direct unlocks
When I first did my research back in 2016 Direct unlocks didn’t exist. A pity, because they are really rather good.
When I re-ran our tests this year I was surprised these new guys were so good.
In a few short months, they have built a good reputation for providing a reliable, quick service.
They are a global supplier with pricing in your local currency for most countries in the world.
Customer service, speed, and reliability were all good.
I only have one minor issue with their service – the charging model. When you buy their service you are first charged a non-refundable deposit which they call a pre-order fee. The remaining balance is charged before the task is finalized. My issue with this is that it makes the prices seem cheaper than they really are. When you add on the final payment they are no cheaper than the first placed iPhone IMEI.
Direct unlocks are pretty good and almost got the top spot with there UK and US websites. They just fell short in the end due to their unusual payment option which may seem a little underhand.
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.
Please understand that I recommend these tools because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.
Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.