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What is Jailbreaking iOS? Should I do it?


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"Should I jailbreak?" Jailbreaking is a very bad idea, and this article will explain what jailbreaking is and why it should not be done. Certain aspects of jailbreaking are illegal - and when you look at the legal part, there is really little benefit to doing it at all. Above all, it is unethical, and violates the iOS Terms and Conditions. Jailbreaking can cause permanent software damage to your device, whether you notice it right away or not.

Those interested in unjailbreaking, which we recommend, should skip to this section.

The Technical Reasons Not to
Apple designs both the hardware and software for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The hardware is designed to work with iOS. When you install such unauthorized modifications, the hardware doesn't know how to handle the new software entirely, giving you unexpected results. Best case scenario, it lags. Worst case scenario, it becomes an expensive paperweight.

Other Reasons Not to
We strongly suggest not hacking/jailbreaking your device. Apple does not support it, so when you experience issues after jailbreaking, you are on your own. Your warranty with Apple is voided, so they won't repair or replace it.

Jailbreaking is removing Apple's restrictions on iOS devices (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad), or otherwise making modifications to the operating system that are not authorized by Apple. 
Jailbreaking is a violation of the Terms and Conditions you agreed to in order to use your iOS device.

Restoring a jailbroken device is not always so easy, contrary to what some say. It is easy to get stuck in a restore loop that bricks your device. Most commonly seen errors are 3194, 1015, 1 or -1, mostly seen if you have jailbroken. Secondly, Apple can always tell a once-jailbroken device even after you "remove" it, which, by the way, it is not completely removed. An Apple Store employee can and will make a note of your serial number, marking it as jailbroken and thus ineligible for repairs.

We have had many reports of issues connecting to networks after jailbreaking. Others find their devices "bricked," or otherwise unusable. We have other reports of devices being stuck at the Apple boot-up logo, or the backlight display not working. Normal troubleshooting steps will not work in this case because the device has been jailbroken. The worst part of it is that you won't be able to get help from Apple, or get the device replaced because it has been hacked. Jailbreaking also makes iOS devices prone to malware and viruses. Malicious code cannot be executed on the iPhone under normal circumstances, but jailbreaking lets code not signed by Apple execute on the device.

Pros of Jailbreaking
Jailbreaking allows the downloads of apps that have not been approved by Apple, and other customization features. These apps are downloaded from the app "Cydia" which only appears on jailbroken devices.

 Cydia icon

Cons of Jailbreaking
There are not many benefits to jailbreaking, but most who do it say that it gives them more "flexibility."
However, your device will almost certainly become very unstable and not function normally.

The number of cons far outweigh the pros:

  • Apple will not fix or offer support of any kind for jailbroken devices
  • Any Apple warranty (standard one-year or with AppleCare) is void because Apple will not support jailbroken devices, and jailbreaking is a violation of your license agreement.
In addition to repercussions from Apple, jailbroken device users are known to experience some or all of these problems, described in the below link.

Corresponding Apple Article: (will take you to Apple's website)

In addition to problems described in the above article, we hear dozens of reports per day about devices being stuck at the Apple logo, or frozen with a white screen, or a completely dim screen (regardless of brightness settings, or not powering on/off at all. We also have reports that downloading certain things from Cydia will cause all built-in apps to be deleted.
On an unjailbroken device, the only way to download content is through the App Store or iTunes Store. But after jailbreaking, there are many scams, viruses and malware that can get in through the Cydia app.

Some apps can detect that you are jailbroken and you may see a messages such as "We've noticed your device is jailbroken." There are some apps such as these that you cannot use when jailbroken, another reason it is not worth it.

Jailbreaking a device also makes it susceptible to malware. An August 2015 hack stole the Apple ID credentials of around 250,000 users. There is always the possibility of other malware, too, and there have been cases of other malware for jailbroken iOS devices in the past.

Is it Legal?
No, it isn't completely legal. So the commonly used "Fun. Safe. Legal." slogan is really very misleading. First, it became completely illegal to jailbreak the iPad in the United States. Then came the ruling that hacking to unlock an iPhone is also illegal. There really was no reason to do this anyway, because as the article states:

Users can, of course, still purchase unlocked iPhones at unsubsidized prices, and, last April, AT&T began unlocking iPhones for customers whose contract terms were completed or who had paid early termination fees to end them early. The SIM card slots on the Verizon iPhone 5 are already unlocked, while Sprint announced that it would unlock the SIM card slot on its iPhones for international usage three months after purchase. 

Most of the tweaks you want can be done without jailbreaking. There is no need to hack for some of these. It is quite possible to think up creative ways to get the tweaks you want without jailbreaking.

Apple definitely discourages jailbreaking, as do we.

While jailbreaking is (partially) legal, it is not a justified act. Some aspects of jailbreaking are illegal. Jailbreaking is categorized as a hack of the device which is obviously not supported, and has some serious repercussions. There are some aspects of jailbreaking that are illegal -- such as those "free" pirated apps, or unlocking an iPhone without carrier authorization.

Basically, Cydia just allows the downloads of apps that are not approved by Apple. However, stop and think: Why doesn't Apple approve apps? It may be because the app doesn't function as described, or maybe it's malicious. Either way, pretty much anything is allowed on Cydia.

A Common Misconception
Some users believe that jailbreaking allows an iPhone to be used on another network or cell tower, for example, using a 3G phone on LTE. This is false. The hardware antennas in the phone having nothing to do with unauthorized modifications users make to their phone, and there will still be repercussions from hacking. If you ever need to update or restore in this case, your phone will be bricked, stuck with a "Could not activate your iPhone" screen.

"I don't care! I want all of those 'cool' features!"
So what do you get with jailbreaking? Cool wallpapers and app icons, Cydia, unlocking, and Bluetooth keyboard capabilities are some of what we hear the most.
Cool wallpapers? You can set any photo as a wallpaper WITHOUT jailbreaking. 

Cydia? Whatever basic tasks you want to perform on your device, there is an app on the App Store to do it. There are over a million on the App Store, there is simply no need for Cydia. If there is an app in Cydia that was not approved by Apple, it can be malicious or be a scam. One common thing people think they need to jailbreak for is to create custom icons for their apps or create shortcuts for menus in Settings. That is not the case; there are a couple or more apps in the App Store, and they have been tested to work well. Pirated apps are also illegal.

Unlocking? Many carriers offer unlocking. The ONLY legitimate and safe way to unlock is through your carrier. If they don't, unlocking through jailbreaking is very shady business, and is illegal. It is not very difficult to list the phone for sale as a no contract phone, and then get an unlocked phone for not much more. Or, you could even buy one that is locked to a different carrier. You will also never be able to update your phone if you unlock by jailbreak. You also cannot get it legitimately unlocked later on. All iPads come unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier without jailbreaking.

Bluetooth keyboard capabilities? This is absolutely possible and quite easy in iOS. iOS has Bluetooth keyboard capabilities, and there is no benefit to jailbreaking in this aspect.

Music controls? It's as easy as double-tapping the home button, and this does not need a jailbreak.

Locating lost iPhones/iPods/iPads? Just download the Find my iPhone app from Apple to locate your devices, and you can just go to Settings > iCloud > Find my [Device] ON. Don't have iCloud? No worries. Set up a new iCloud account in Mail settings, and after setup turn Find my iPhone ON.

If there are still some features you do not see available in iOS, Apple may include these in future versions of iOS. You can submit feedback to Apple at to let them know what you would like to see in iOS. Also note that, if jailbroken, you will not be able to update your device. Apple has been very responsive to feedback and we have gotten input from users saying that their ideas have been implemented in iOS.

Some say that jailbreaking is risk-free. This is not at all the case, and there is no point in hacking and potentially bricking your device to get features for which there are adequate alternatives available in the standard iOS.

So, you have jailbroken, but are now aware of the dangers, can you "un-jailbreak?" Most definitely. All that is needed is a restore.

Un-Jailbreaking by Restore 
Note that if you are unable to restore, the jailbreak has already corrupted your device, in which case there's pretty much nothing you can do (which is why jailbreaking isn't a good idea in the first place).
When restoring your device, you will still be able to keep all of your data while still removing the jailbreak.

When your device is plugged in and iTunes is launched, locate the "DEVICES" section on the left sidebar in iTunes. Click on the name of your device. This opens a "Summary" tab, in which you will find the button to restore (labelled "Restore"). Allow the device to reboot, and then iTunes will present you with options to "Set Up as New" or "Restore from Backup." You can then restore from a backup, and once the status bar in iTunes says that it is complete, you can safely enjoy your not jailbroken iOS device. If you are running iOS 5.0 or later, the setup of your device can be done without iTunes, it can be done on your device. You can go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. After the reboot, follow the on-screen setup and you can choose to set up as new or from a backup. You can also restore from an iCloud backup wirelessly if you have one.

<edit 8/25/12> Some users have reported to us directly that attempting to restore from a backup on a jailbroken device will brick it. We have had reports of a frozen spinning wheel overlapping the Apple logo on startup, at which point it becomes frozen. Another reported a white screen. Yet another reported a frozen progress bar and colored horizontal lines across the screen. These users were able to successfully un-jailbreak, however, after we recommended they use Recovery Mode. See here for Recovery Mode:

Questions Submitted about Jailbreaking
Read questions users submit to us about jailbreaking.

"Do I need to jailbreak to get iCloud?"
Absolutely not! iCloud is a feature included in iOS. If you do not have it under Settings, you just need to update your version of iOS by connecting to iTunes.

"Do I get my warranty back if I restore to remove the jailbreak?"
When you jailbreak, warranty is gone for good. However, a restore is still recommended, as the chances of something going wrong for which you would try to claim warranty are reduced greatly.

In conclusion, you really don't need to jailbreak, and doing so can harm your device. Don't jailbreak unless you want your device to look like this. Permanently.

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