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You probably shouldn’t jailbreak your iPhone. There’s a long list of reasons why it’s a bad idea, from security and privacy issues to the cat-and-mouse game Apple and the jailbreaking community likes to play.
That said, nothing I say will probably stop you from wanting to do so. The jailbreaking scene is still very much alive, with hundreds of exploits available in the underground App Store known as Cydia.
So here’s how to jailbreak, and a few things to consider if you’re thinking of doing so.
Currently compatible with: iOS 10.2 for iPhone 6s and earlier, iOS 10.1.1 for iPhone 7.
Tonight There’s Gonna Be a Jailbreak
In 2015 we asked: is it still worth jailbreaking your iPhone? Most of the issues raised in that article are still valid, so instead of giving you the usual “buyer beware” spiel, I’ll invite you to go and read it, and leave it at that.
Assuming you’re still reading, you’re probably not phased about running the latest version of iOS, or a few pesky unpatched security exploits. You’re willing to take your chances, or you’re looking for something to do with your old iPod Touch.
As of this writing (September 2017), iOS 10.2 can be jailbroken in a semi-tethered state. Untethered means that even if you restart the device, the jailbreak will persist. Tethered jailbreaks usually precede fully untethered releases, and they disappear when iOS reboots.
A semi-tethered jailbreak will need to be re-jailbroken after each reboot, but the process is as simple as launching an app and tapping a button. You also won’t lose your tweaks or other data while using this particular semi-tethered method.
— Samir Davé (@Samir4021) March 27, 2017
Going forward, Apple’s new APFS file system looks set to make it even more difficult for the jailbreaking community to come up with exploits. Downgrading firmware isn’t an option for most since Apple requires firmware to be “signed” before installation. The window for old firmware signing only lasts a few days when a new version is released.
As such, you should be cautious about updating the firmware on any iOS devices you want to jailbreak. Don’t update until you know there’s an exploit available, and remain on that version until the same thing happens again.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I chose my old iPhone 6 that’s been sat in a drawer for months and is still running iOS 10.1. I’m keeping my main iPhone 7 Plus jailbreak-free, since I’m only doing this for fun and I quite like iOS 11.
Prepare Your Device
There are a few things you’ll need for a successful jailbreak:
- A compatible device, running an exploitable version of iOS (in this instance, that’s iOS 10.2)
- A Mac or Windows computer
- Cydia Impactor
- An .IPA payload (in this instance, that’s yalu102)
- A Lightning cable
We’re using the yalu102 payload, which is the main brains of the operation. It’s compatible with all non-iPhone 7 (or later) devices running iOS 10.2. iPhone 7 users can currently jailbreak iOS 10.1.1 or earlier (check the top of the page). Other payloads (like Pangu) may require different approaches.
You’ll also want to grab a spare dummy Apple ID. Call me paranoid, but I never use my primary accounts for anything relating to jailbreaks. Grab yourself a new Apple ID (U.S. accounts don’t require a credit card or PayPal) and sign into it on your target device. You’ll need to surrender these details to Cydia Impactor in the next step, too.
Important: If this is your primary device, and you’ve got important data stored on it, please back it up before proceeding. Things can and do go wrong when you start messing with your device’s operating system. You have been warned!
Performing the Jailbreak
When everything’s ready, your device is backed up, and your Apple ID is good to go, you can jailbreak your device in a few steps:
- Plug your iPhone into your computer using the Lightning cable, then launch Cydia Impactor.
- Make sure your device is selected in Cydia Impactor, then drag the .IPA payload (e.g. yalu102_beta7.ipa) into the Cydia Impactor window and release.
- Enter your (dummy) Apple ID email address, then your password when prompted.
- Wait for the installation to complete, then disconnect your device from your computer.
- Head to Settings > General > Device Management where you’ll find a profile for the email address you provided in Step 3. Tap it, then hit Trust and Trust again.
- You can now launch the “yalu102” app which will have appeared on your home screen, and hit Go to perform the jailbreak.
- Once you see the “Cydia” app appear on your home screen, the process is complete. If you don’t see Cydia, repeat as necessary.
It’s normal for your screen to go black and unresponsive while the jailbreak is applied.
Re-Jailbreak After Rebooting
If you reboot your iPhone, or it crashes, or your battery dies, then you’ll need to re-jailbreak using the payload app you installed. Simply open the app again (in this case “yalu102”) and hit Go. The screen will flicker and your jailbreak will be reapplied. You won’t lose your tweaks, and Cydia will work once again.
Reinstalling the Payload Every 7 Days
If you’re using a free Apple ID, rather than a developer account (which you almost certainly are), then you’ll need to reinstall the payload app once a week. This is a restriction placed on non-developer accounts by Apple, and there’s no way around it.
You’ll have to run the jailbreak process again to install the payload, using the steps above and Cydia Impactor. Of course, your jailbreak could last months without needing to be reapplied if you don’t reboot.
It’s time to launch Cydia and grab yourself some tweaks! You can add third party repositories to get access to even more apps, but be careful what you install. In particular, be careful of repositories with pirated exploits and apps. Not only is piracy bad, many of these packages will install other nasties that could put your device and personal information at risk.
One of our favorite exploits is an iPhone VNC server that allows you to remote control the device over a local network.
Do you still jailbreak your iPhone? Why? And what does APFS mean for future exploits? Drop some Thin Lizzy references in the comments below.
Image Credit: Furian/Depositphotos