What Does It Mean to "Jailbreak" iPhone and Should You Do It?
Jailbreaking an iPhone is a fairly common procedure, but that doesn't mean it’s without its risks. For most iPhone users, jailbreaking isn’t worth the time, the effort or the possible issues that can arise. Those iPhone users who are wondering how jailbreaking works or if they should give it a try can learn all about it below, including the benefits, drawbacks and why in most situations, it’s better to avoid it entirely.
What Is Jailbreaking an iPhone?
Every iPhone uses a version of iOS, which is an Apple operating system for all the company’s mobile devices, including iPads, iPods and the aforementioned iPhones. That operating system has certain restrictions put in place which limit what the device can do and how much the user can modify it. Jailbreaking is a procedure that involves taking away those restrictions from iOS. The name is metaphorical and refers to how the user is breaking free from the iOS restrictions.
Is It a Good Idea to Jailbreak an iPhone?
Whether a user should jailbreak his iPhone is a matter of preference. Some users who have jailbroken their iPhones have been very happy with the results. However, things can go wrong, and if they do, it could cost the user quite a bit. Any user who doesn’t possess extensive technical knowledge should avoid attempting to jailbreak his iPhone, because there’s the potential for a problem that he can’t fix. Even experts should think carefully before going through with it.
Benefits of Jailbreaking an iPhone
Once an iPhone is jailbroken, its previous iOS restrictions are gone, which opens up plenty of new functionality. With a jailbroken iPhone, users can access Cydia, an alternative to the App Store. The apps in Cydia provide unique features and customization options which wouldn’t be available otherwise. For example, a user can install apps from Cydia to switch to a different font, use Chrome or Firefox as the default browser instead of Safari, or change his icons.
The apps available in Cydia can be fun and exciting, especially the first time the user experiences them. The problem is that many of them also present additional risks and make the user more susceptible to cybercriminals. Apple doesn’t simply add restrictions to iOS for the sake of doing it, it does so to keep the information of its users safe.
Apple Keeps an Eye on the Jailbreaking Community
One thing that plenty of astute users have seen with Apple is that the company doesn’t disregard its jailbreaking community. In fact, Apple watches what kind of features the community adds and, if it sees something that’s particularly popular, it adds that feature on the next update of iOS. There are several notable examples, which include:
Users were never happy with the original iPhone flashlight apps. Not only was it inconvenient to use an app to activate the iPhone’s flashlight, but these apps were also almost always heavy on ads, a huge drain on the phone’s battery and poorly coded. Then the jailbreaking community came along and developed a far superior flashlight app that was available through Cydia. This app allowed users to switch their flashlights on with a button on the dropdown menu. Apple took note of this, and when iOS 7 dropped, it had a flashlight button in the Control Center.
The jailbreaking community also developed an app called Auxo to filter out blue light on the iPhone’s display. While this may seem like a minor tweak, it’s much easier to fall asleep with the iPhone nearby when that blue light is gone. Apple saw how popular Auxo became, and in iOS 9.3, they released Apple Night Shift. Users just go to Settings, Display and Brightness and Night Shift. From there, they can tap Scheduled to set a specific time frame when the display filters out blue light, or tap Manually Enable Until Tomorrow to set it up manually.
Jailbreaks Become Less Beneficial as Time Goes on
Because Apple watches the jailbreaking community and pays attention to the features that its customers want, jailbreaking an iPhone becomes less beneficial as Apple releases more updates. When a user first jailbreaks his iPhone, there could be quite a few great new apps he can use. But soon enough, Apple will release these features in updates, and they’ll be much safer and more secure.
Drawbacks of Jailbreaking an iPhone
The first major issue with jailbreaking an iPhone is that it invalidates the warranty. If anything happens during the jailbreak that impairs the phone or causes it to stop working, the user can’t get it fixed through Apple. Fortunately, even when something does go wrong, users can typically perform a DFU Restore, but this doesn’t always fix the problem.
Apple Always Knows
It doesn’t matter if a user performs a DFU Restore after jailbreaking an iPhone. There will still be traces left of the jailbreak, and Apple can always determine whether an iPhone has been jailbroken before. Occasionally, iOS updates cause jailbroken phones to brick, which means they won’t turn on. This can happen even if the phone was jailbroken and then DFU Restored back to normal.
What users need to realize is that they probably can’t get their iPhones fixed through Apple at any time after jailbreaking them. Even if it’s an Apple update that causes the issue, if it happened because the phone was jailbroken, then the warranty is still invalid.
While there are many more apps available through Cydia than through the App Store, this isn’t always a good thing. Part of the reason for this is the App Store’s standards regarding apps. These standards keep dangerous apps from ever making it to the store.
Apple also puts protections in place regarding how much of an iPhone an app can access. The user must approve what an app can access, so he controls what apps access which information. For example, if he downloads Facebook and wants to look up which of his contacts are on there, the app will need to get his authorization before accessing his contacts.
This isn’t the case with apps from Cydia. Many of these apps won’t provide the user with any notification before accessing other parts of the phone. It’s possible for an app to even access the user’s information and send it to a server somewhere else.
No More Software Updates
As mentioned, software updates are a problem with jailbroken iPhones. Because it’s unsafe to install a software update from Apple after jailbreaking an iPhone, the user must instead wait for an update on the jailbreak. It may be months before his iPhone catches up to the current operating system.
The Legality of Jailbreaking an iPhone
It’s not a crime for a user to jailbreak his iPhone, but it does violate the terms of Apple’s user agreement, which is why Apple doesn’t offer repairs for phones that have been jailbroken. Apple recommends on its site that users don’t jailbreak their iPhones, for obvious reasons.
Even though jailbreaking itself isn’t illegal, there are apps available on Cydia that allow users to perform illegal activities. For example, there are apps designed for stealing movies or music. Any user that downloads and uses these apps is committing a crime, so there’s the risk of legal issues.
Deciding Whether to Jailbreak an iPhone
When evaluating the pluses and minuses of jailbreaking an iPhone, it’s obvious that the risks far outweigh any potential rewards. Jailbreaking the iPhone allows the user to try some cool new features and take advantage of improved functionality, but many of these functions will be available soon enough through legitimate Apple updates. The user won’t be able to get support through Apple, and he’ll be waiting around after every software update until the jailbreaking community catches up.
If a user has an extra iPhone and doesn’t care what happens to it, then he may decide it’s worth seeing what jailbreaking is like. However, he still needs to be very careful with the apps that he uses. He may not care about the phone itself, but any of his personal information will be at risk if he installs the wrong app. It's better not to take the chance. Jump to top
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