How to Permanently Unlock iPhone 8 & 8 Plus (Using Apple Approved Methods)

This article explains how I helped my wife unlock her iPhone 8 so she could use a different SIM in her handset.

The procedure proved popular with my readers with many thousands of them copying the process and enjoying the freedom of using an unlocked iPhone handset.

Keep on reading to find out what I did and how you can do the same…

iPhone 8 unlocking process

When my wife bought her iPhone 8 she was so happy. The only drawback was it was locked to a single carrier in the UK. So when we moved house to an area with poor coverage from her carrier she couldn’t change to another provider that offered a better service.

She tried but when she put a different SIM card in her phone a message said ‘invalid SIM’ and she couldn’t make any calls.

After some in-depth research, I found out that the solution was for her to unlock her iPhone 8 so she could change to a carrier with better coverage in our area. She could then use any SIM in her iPhone. This had another advantage, she could reduce her costs by choosing a cheaper carrier with a better package.

Recommendations

If, like my wife, you are stuck with a carrier that you want to change go to DoctorUnlock and have your device network unlocked. DoctorUnlock offers a vast number of unlocking services for English speaking countries. I recommend them after doing a thorough review of many providers available and concluding they offer a great service for a fair price.

If you are located elsewhere in the world I would suggest using DirectUnlocks. They also have a good service I’d recommend but have a larger range of carriers in non-English speaking countries that they can unlock.

Conclusions

Here are the most important conclusions I found when researching how to unlock an iPhone 8 (or 8 Plus):

  1. There are 4 unlock methods that are claimed to be suitable
  2. Hardware unlocking & software unlocking are dangerous and can cause permanent damage
  3. R-SIM unlocking is unreliable
  4. 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)
  5. Apple can’t network unlock your iPhone, only your carrier or third-party services can
  6. 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
  7. Third-party unlockers can unlock your device without conditions, although the quality of service varies greatly between them

Background

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.

 

Unlocking options

There are 4 methods of unlocking.

  1. Network unlock
  2. R-SIM unlock
  3. Hardware unlock
  4. Software unlock

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 unauthorised by Apple to do this work. So when you have your device opened by an unathorised 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.

Not good.

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

  1. It doesn’t work properly on all networks.
  2. Due to network issues, some features won’t work properly such as Facetime & iMessenger.
  3. If your phone loses power or reception you have to perform the process again.
  4. Your device will have a weaker phone signal causing dropouts.
  5. Your smartphone may overheat or have reduced battery life due to the extra hardware.
  6. 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?

Holding an iPhone at breakfast

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 assure this is the best way to unlock your iPhone safely:

  1. Request your unlock from a reputable supplier
  2. Wait 3-5 days for it to be processed
  3. Finalise the it by following the instructions provided
  4. 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:

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. Finalise 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 finalise 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 finalisation process that makes your life as simple as possible. No need for complex or confusing instructions.

4. Check your iPhone was unlocked properly

Once finalised, 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 DoctorUnlock.

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 organised 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 each prospects service. 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 critera:

  1. Was it successfully unlocked?
  2. Price
  3. Speed
  4. 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.

Price

The prices varied greatly. And it didn’t always follow that the most expensive option offered the best service.

Realising price is important we ranked suppliers based on cost.

Speed

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 quick they managed to do the unlock.

Customer care

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.

1st: DoctorUnlock

DoctorUnlock logo

DoctorUnlock are 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.

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.

DoctorUnlock 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 DoctorUnlock.

How to use DoctorUnlock to purchase an unlock

Some visitors to this article mentioned that they were confused about how to purchase the unlock so I have added this step-by-step video tutorial explaining what to do below.

Before you start you will need your IMEI number. The IMEI is a unique id for your Apple device. You need to supply the code so they unlock the correct device.

There are 4 ways of doing it:

  1. Dial *#06# on your phone 
  2. Look at the back of your phone. Your IMEI is printed there (in very small text)
  3. Pick Settings > General > About on your phone then scroll down. You should see the IMEI
  4. If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI

2nd: Direct unlocks

direct unlocks logo

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 finalised. 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.

3rd: Official iPhone Unlock

OiU logo

My third place supplier is Official iPhone Unlock.  They are a well-established supplier that also did well in my tests.

They weren’t the fastest at providing unlocks but were still efficient. I found unlocks for our iPhone 8’s took 1-3 days, depending on location and network. This is fast but not as good as our top 2.

Customer services were OK, but replies were a little slow with them taking a day or so to get back to me.

So far so good.

The biggest difference was the way in which they structured their payments. Like Direct Unlocks, Official iPhone Unlock, don’t make it clear on their website but you pay a deposit (called a pre-order fee) with the remainder paid when the unlock is completed. This means you don’t get told the full unlock cost when you order – only the deposit.

I feel this is a little misleading so this is why they are in 3rd place.

The pre-order payment is deducted from the final overall cost so you are not asked to pay twice. However it can leave a bad taste in the mouth as it feels like you are being ‘blackmailed’ into paying an unexpected second fee.

This could easily be fixed by showing the full fee when you order and making it clear you only pay a deposit initially.

Having said all this they are a decent supplier that provides a fairly good service. They are not quite up there with the top 2 but are miles ahead of some of the dodgy operators on the web. The lack of clarity in pricing puts Official iPhone Unlock in 3rd place.

Official iPhone Unlock customer feedback

How to purchase from Official iPhone Unlock

Some members of my community here at iChimp got in touch to say they wanted some clear instructions on how to buy an unlock service from Official iPhone Unlock. To make things as simple as possible I put together the following tutorial with step-by-step instructions.

Before you begin you need your IMEI code as it will be used later in the purchase process. There are 4 simple ways of getting the IMEI:

  • Dial *#06# on your phone 
  • Look at the back of your phone. Your IMEI is printed there (in very small text)
  • Pick Settings > General > About on your phone then scroll down. You should see the IMEI
  • If your iPhone is not activated, there will be a little “i” button on the screen, tap it and you’ll see the IMEI
  1. Follow this link to go to Official iPhone Unlock.
  2. Click the ‘BUY NOW’ on the left (shown below).
    Step-2 Buy now

    Step-2 Buy now

  3. Click the picture of the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus (depending on the model of phone you have) from the picture at the top.
  4. A box requesting the IMEI will appear at the bottom of the page. Type it in.
  5. Select the carrier or network that your device is currently locked to using the drop-down menu under the IMEI input box. officialiphoneunlock.co.uk - iphone network unlock 01
  6. The pre-order price will appear further down the page. This isn’t the full price of the unlock, just for the deposit. The remainder is paid before they finalise the process.
  7. If you are happy, click the ‘Buy Now’ button to proceed to the next page.
  8. Fill in your email address then click ‘Continue’ to go to the payment page.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk - iphone network unlock 02
  9. Fill in your payment details and pay for the unlock service.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk - iphone network unlock 02
  10. The unlock process will begin.
  11. You will receive an email requesting the final payment to release the unlock within 2-5 days.
  12. Once the final payment has been paid you should receive simple instructions on how to complete the unlock process.

Did you find this iPhone fix helpful?

If you found this fix helpful please take a moment to tweet, like, or share this article by using the buttons at the top of this page. I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

Also, if you are feeling extra generous after having your issue solved please leave some encouraging feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I love getting feedback from visitors. It encourages me to find further solutions to those awkward little iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac problems that we all suffer from.

Thanks for taking the time to read my website and I hope to help you again soon!

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