Jailbreak Your iPhone: The Inside Guide

11. September, 2012 Life No comments
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Apple’s iPhone is arguably the most significant piece of tech to come out of the past decade. It’s not an exaggeration to declare that the little white (or black) phone has changed the modern world. But while the iPhone puts every imaginable convenience at your fingertips (well, almost; it doesn’t fetch coffee and doughnuts on demand. Yet), acquiring an iPhone means playing by Apple’s rules—at first. Hence why so many people ask, “How do I jailbreak my iPhone?”

“Jailbreaking” your iPhone involves removing Apple’s imposed limitations via programs like Spirit. Removing Apple’s limitations allows you to install applications and games that haven’t been approved by Apple (and are therefore unavailable on the App Store), and it also lets you fool around with customization options that have been locked away by Apple for one reason or another. 

If you’re looking to take the plunge, here are five things you should know about how to jailbreak your iPhone – and what can happen if you do. 

There are lots of good reasons to jailbreak, but you should still decide what’s right for you – Jailbreaking an iPhone can help you access useful apps that would otherwise be impossible for you to access, but the act also opens up customization options (especially on your phone’s desktop) that are otherwise locked up tight. Jailbreaking your phone is safe and easy as long as you follow directions (said directions change all the time because of updates, etc, so make sure your instructions are current), but remember that jailbreaking your phone also voids its warranty, and Apple is definitely not a fan of the procedure. 

“Jailbreaking” an iPhone and “Unlocking” it are two different things – People tend to talk about “unlocking” and “jailbreaking” as if the terms are interchangeable, but they mean two different things. “Jailbreaking” refers to removing blocks on the iPhone’s hardware and software. “Unlocking” your phone has to do with removing restrictions on your iPhone’s SIM card, thus allowing you use any cell service provider, not just Apple’s approved carriers. You need to jailbreak your iPhone before you can unlock it, and indeed this is one of the main reasons why people look to jailbreak their phone in the first place. 

Jailbreaking is a reversible process – If you’ve fiddled with your iPhone and decided that you don’t like the untamed frontier, fear not: Jailbreaking is typically reversible. Simply plug your phone into iTunes, and click “Restore” under the summary tab. You’ll be given the option to make a back-up first, which you probably want to do. Once the iPhone reboots and restores itself from its backup, all your non-jailbroken apps will be returned to the phone’s desktop. Needless to say, your jailbroken apps will be gone. 

Jailbreaking your iPhone is technically legal – You might be thinking to yourself, “Gosh, this jailbreaking stuff sounds kind of sleazy and illegal.” Really, it’s not sleezy, and it’s not illegal. Technically. In the United States. In June 2010, American federal regulators declared that jailbreaking the iPhone is legally okay, though downloading pirated/cracked/stolen software remains illegal. 

Jailbreaking your phone leaves it susceptible to viruses that typically aren’t a problem – If there’s one advantage to not jailbreaking your iPhone, the security of Apple’s App Store makes it nearly impossible for malicious software to get onto your phone via app downloads. By contrast, once your phone is jailbroken, you need to be careful about what you download, in case the file contains a virus or malware. It doesn’t mean you should be afraid; it just means you should take precautions. 

Jailbreaking the iPhone is a very popular topic of conversation, and there are countless articles and advice columns on the matter published on the Internet. For more information, visit: 

Should I Jailbreak My iPhone? at Forbes

How to Jailbreak any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch at Gizmodo

How to Jailbreak an iPhone at HowStuffWorks

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About author

Nadia Oxford

Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com's Guide to the Nintendo DS.

View all posts by Nadia Oxford

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