Jailbreaking & iOS: The Pros And Cons Of Voiding Your Warranty

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jailbreaking an iphoneHave you been feeling the need to jailbreak lately? The latest Redsn0w and Pwnage Tool jailbreaking apps cover Apple’s 4.3.2 firmware update, so freeing your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (not iPad 2) is as easy and accessible as it’s likely to get.

Despite being easy, free and completely legal; jailbreaking your iOS device will void your warranty. If you’re worried about the consequences should it go wrong and whether the advantages outweigh the risks then don’t do a thing till you’ve read this.

There are plenty of reasons for and against jailbreaking. Here are just a few to get you thinking.

The Argument For:

It’s Easy

With the latest tools, jailbreaking your iPhone or similar really couldn’t be easier. Redmond Pie have a 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 untethered jailbreak guide using Pwnage Tool on a Mac and Sn0wbreeze on Windows. These guides are very in-depth and should hold your hand for the complete process.

You’ll be surprised that all it takes is the above mentioned jailbreak software, iTunes and a few clicks in your chosen tool to free your device.

The Other App Store

Cydia is an unofficial app store for jailbroken iOS devices which deals in banned or non-approved software. Not only are there free downloads available on Cydia but also paid ones. VLC is one such banned app available (for free) on Cydia. It allows users to play DivX video instead of Apple-approved MP4s – something Apple weren’t pleased about, hence the ban.
jailbreaking an iphone
The potential for so-called “bedroom development” of apps has been given a new lease of life with recent successful jailbreaking techniques. Developers certainly won’t hit the dizzying number of downloads seen on the official Apple repository, but for many it will be a chance to get their work on iOS without having to worry about Apple’s approval.

The fact that such a resource exists is arguably one of the main reasons to jailbreak your device.

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Unparalleled Customization

Jailbroken devices are immeasurably more customizable than those that haven’t been hacked. Not only can you change the physical appearance of your home screen, lock screen, keyboard, icons and so on but also add useful software tweaks to the UI too.

With the BackBoard theme installer available on Cydia, transforming your iPhone into a very convincing Windows Phone 7 clone or applying that big beautiful HTC-esque clock to your homescreen is a painless experience.

If you really want to turbo-charge your UI, install SBSettings to add all kinds of one-touch access to useful features such as toggling 3G, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi or changing your brightness simply by swiping across the top of your screen. Try Lockinfo if you’re bored of a dull lock screen to cover your device’s idle screen in useful information.

Make Some Serious Changes

Jailbreaking your iOS device also enables you to change your phone’s behavior and even add some nifty extra features. One such feature that Apple prohibited was FaceTime (or any demanding data tasks) over 3G. With the My3G application ($3.99 with a free trial, from Cydia) you can trick your iPhone into believing it is on a speedy Wi-Fi connection anywhere you have regular data signal.
jailbreaking an ipad
This means you can finally make video calls, watch YouTube in HD or download apps in excess of 20MB using your standard 3G connection. Apple did remove this functionality in order to prevent the mother of all phone bills, so be careful if you’re not on an unlimited data plan.

If you’re sick of the default SMS handler then why not ditch it in favour of biteSMS, a popular third party effort? If you’re sick of not being able to have more than 12 apps in a folder then try Infinifolders and never worry about it again. Want to access your device’s most sensitive data? Looks like iFile is the app for you.

There’s no argument that jailbreaking an iPhone unleashes some unexplored potential, but is it worth it?

The Argument Against:

What If It Goes Wrong?

Whilst a complete “brick” is unlikely (and many have reported that it is quite easy to recover your device should something go wrong) it’s not guaranteed. If you’re not the type who is fond of fiddling to the point of breaking something, and then spending all night trying to fix it again (you should know by now) then jailbreaking might not be for you.
jailbreaking an ipad
If you do somehow “brick” your phone (to the point of no return) then Apple won’t bat an eyelid as you’ve voided your warranty by trying to jailbreak in the first place. If your device is recoverable it will need to be wiped and you’ll have to start all over again.

Annoying? Probably. Devastating? Not really, and nowhere near as bad as a completely dud device.

Note: If you jailbreak, then restore to Apple’s firmware there’s little Apple can do to detect your past sins meaning your warranty will still stand. Just don’t let Apple know you’ve fiddled with it, obviously. If it breaks in a jailbroken state and Apple find out, they won’t fix it.

Firmware Updates

Apple often roll out firmware updates soon after a successful jailbreak release. There’s plenty of reasons why you should update (as seen in the Security section below), but any official updates are 100% guaranteed to break your jailbreak. You’ll need to do it all over again once the update is jailbreak-compatible to restore your phone’s untapped potential.
jailbreaking an iphone
Then again you might start to enjoy the cat-and-mouse game played by the hackers and Apple, eagerly awaiting news of the latest successful jailbreak…

Security: The Big One

The risks in installing modified firmware on any device should never be overlooked. Potential security holes, bugs, or even third-party applications could render your device worse-off than a pre-jailbreak model. Security updates (or lack of them) are another hazard.

Every iOS device utilizing firmware with a serious security hole (once discovered) should be updated as soon as possible to protect against the flaw. The only issue here is that many users may be tempted to keep their jailbreak in favor of Apple’s update to retain jailbroken privileges (and leave the security hole wide open).

Whilst this is entirely subjective, and that fixing a big security hole is more important than installing a couple of banned apps; it’s an example of how delaying an update due to a jailbreak can make for an unwise decision.

Conclusion

The most important reasons for and against a jailbreak though, needn’t really be mentioned. If you’re already considering it, then chances are you’ll love your new jailbroken device and all the things you can do without Apple’s approval.

If you’re happy with your standard iPhone or iPad, love the App Store and don’t need half of the features I’ve glossed over – leave it out.

Have you jailbroken your iPhone? Will you? Why? Why not? Persuade us all in the comments below.

Image Credit: Intro image by Patrick H. Lauke, FaceTime by Miles, Broken iPhone by Dschulian

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Comments (14)
  • Shhdon’ttell

    Thanks Tim!
    It’s the iphone 6 plus…it’s the hummer of phones…I look ridiculous carrying it around.
    When I went to upgrade I just wanted the screen for reading (I’m a book club gal and like having the book/phone with me to read whenever there’s a break in my day)
    and I really don’t know much about jailbreaking,
    honestly I don’t like the iphone so I’m going to take it back tomorrow and stay…or should I say go back with a Galaxy…
    The reason I was asking is because I don’t know what jailbreaking fully does or means but I don’t like the constant barrage of commercials on the games. I was just hoping that jailbreaking would stop that. But like I said, I’m taking the phone back. Not an Apple user.
    But thank you so much for the info…oh, and as for my son…he’s a gamer (if that means anything) and all the kids showed him how to do it ’cause they all have it. Maybe it’s cool? But if jail breaking the phone is the worst thing he’s ever done (and it probably is..he’s a homebody too hooked on the Alien) then I’m okay with that. thank you for taking your time to respond.

  • Shhdon’ttell

    I have some questions but I am NOT tech savy so please answer in laymans terms….

    I don’t know how to jail break but my kid does…

    what if the phone is a lease that has to be returned in 2 years. Can I jail break it and then just set it back to factory settings before turning it back in? Will they know that it was jail broken? will that void the lease?

    Or if it needs to be repaired or something can you just set it back to factory so they don’t know?

    Thank you

    • Tim Brookes

      Hi,

      First up I have to say we really don’t know if there’s any way of telling if a device was once jailbroken. There’s chance Apple already knows which devices are jailbroken or not, after all each iPhone has a unique device identifier (UDID) like any smartphone. As the article states, apparently certain jailbreak processes leave files behind that might indicate to someone taking a closer look (i.e. Apple technician) that you’ve been naughty.

      Secondly – is this a new iPhone 6? If so then a bigger worry for you would be voiding the warranty. This is especially true if you have the extended warranty or its covered by some sort of (presumably work?) insurance. Even if a physical fault develops (i.e. your home button stops working) if the device’s software has been tampered with then the whole warranty is down the pan.

      Personally I wouldn’t jailbreak a device that was still under warranty, mostly because I have a track record of using my warranties (MacBook, iPad, iPhone all have had some degree of work done under warranty).

      If this is a work lease and the device is older (i.e no warranty, though it’s unlikely – even refurbs get some limited warranty) then I guess it depends if your employer cares! Following the logic that they gave you the device in order to be contactable, I’m not sure installing third party firmware quite falls under that remit.

      Lastly you should have a look at why you (or your son) actually wants to jailbreak. It’s not that I don’t see the point, but more that many of the tweaks aren’t as useful as they first seem, many are still broken after years of neglect from developers, others work great (but I’m dubious as to whether they warrant all the hassle in the first place).

      It’s also true that jailbreaking is required to install spy software, so it would technically leave your phone open to attack in that respect (unlikely I know, but still – all of those “spy on your spouse” apps require a jailbreak). It’s possible some other apps like Netflix, PayPal, banking apps etc won’t work either – again, a security measure.

      Honestly? I wouldn’t bother.

      Tim

  • Robert

    iPhone 3GS, running iOS 4.2.1 and jailbroken using greenpois0n. Everything ‘standard’ in iOS just works like it should work. There’s nothing to worry about, like push notifications not showing up anymore or the App Store not working anymore. Everything’s just fine.

    If you’ve tried to jailbreak your iPhone or iPod and it won’t start up, like you’re holding down the power button but the screen keeps black, you can always try to hold down the power ánd home button, in most cases your iPhone or iPod will start up just fine.

    Conclusion: jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod isn’t all that wrong, all standard features will just keep working and there are plenty or reasons to jailbreak. Consider it ;-)

    • striker223

      yeah, i’m the kinda guy that wants his $300+ device to work exactly how he wants rather than how someone else thinks he should like it. plus, it’s kinda fun tweaking it and watching the amazement in people eyes when it does something then never knew it could. what most people don’t understand is how simple and not confusing it really is.

  • Domenico Favotto

    i jailbroke my ipod touch 2nd generation on ios 3.1.3

  • Tim Brookes

    Yep, you can jailbreak your iPod Touch with the tools mentioned in the article above :)

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.