If you want to save money on call charges or get better cell coverage you can’t if your iPhone 8 is tied to a single carrier.
If you insert a different SIM card into your phone you will get an error message.
The solution is to know how to unlock your iPhone 8 or 8 Plus so you can use any carrier and get the best deals.
In this easy-to-read guide, I will explain the different methods of iPhone unlocking your device.
In less than 10minutes, you will know how to use your smartphone on any cellular network you want – without restrictions – anywhere in the world.
This unlocking guide applies to the following iPhone models:
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
If you want to remove the iCloud Activation Lock instead of the carrier lock, then see How to get rid of Activation Lock from iPhone 8. If the passcode lock is the issue, see How to unlock iPhone 8 with no passcode.
If you have a different model of phone you can use the following guides:
- For iPhone 6, 6s, 6s Plus, and 6 Plus models see iPhone 6 unlock guide.
- For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, see iPhone 7 unlock guide.
- For newer iPhone models, see iPhone 13, 12, 11, SE, XS, XR, X unlock guide.
Here is a summary of 7 important points to consider when unlocking your device:
- There are 4 iPhone 8 unlock methods that are claimed to work.
- Hardware unlocking & software unlocking are dangerous and can cause permanent damage so don’t actually work.
- R-SIM unlocking is unreliable and can damage your phone and is also unsuitable.
- Only 1 carrier unlocking method works effectively and is recommended by Apple. That method is carrier unlocking (also known as network, SIM, IMEI, or factory unlocking)
- Apple can’t 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 so only use a recommended supplier.
IMEInow 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 to unlock your iPhone 8.
They have a better selection of services particularly for carriers outside the native English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.
If you do a bit of research you will find 4 ways of unlocking the iPhone 8 range of smartphones are suggested. They are:
When tested, I found that some of these methods work, some don’t, and others are dangerous.
Read on to find out more…
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 carrier unlock
Carrier 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 a carrier lock?
A carrier lock (which is also known as a network lock, 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.
Lock removal 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: Pick 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
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 it 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 finalization the more likely it will not work and you will have to repeat it.
The most reputable suppliers
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 to 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 IMEInow.
They were able to unlock all our iPhone 8 models in a couple of days.
Their pricing starts at £25 ($30). This is 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 their iPhones 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 they 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.
IMEInow is our top performer managing to carrier unlock every iPhone 8 model.
They are well priced with costs starting at just £5 (around $7 USD). Exact pricing depends on your location and carrier.
They were incredibly fast managing to unlock every phone we supplied within 2-3 days. It is worth mentioning that the speed is dependent 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.
IMEInow 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 IMEInow.
How to use IMEInow
Some visitors to this page said they were a bit confused about ordering from IMEInow 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 2017 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 their UK and US websites. They just fell short in the end due to their unusual payment option which may seem a little underhand.
As you see, there is a variety of ways to carrier unlock iPhone 8 or 8 Plus models. After the unlock has been finalized you will be able to use a SIM from any carrier worldwide. This gives you a great deal of flexibility when picking the best coverage and price.
If you click a link to go through to a provider, we may get paid. This only happens if you buy a service. This is what funds us, and keeps us free to use. For a more detailed explanation see our affiliate disclosure.