Jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad is a risky process that we can't unreservedly recommend, but it remains popular among those who wish to install unofficial apps and tweaks on their smartphone or tablet via the Cydia marketplace. Here's how to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad in iOS 10 - and iOS 9, too. 

(What is jailbreaking? In essence, it means bypassing the locks put in place by Apple on its iPhones and iPads and thus gaining access to a large number of apps that Apple hasn't authorised. For explanations of this and many, many more Apple-related terms, see our Apple jargon-buster encyclopedia.)

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How to jailbreak an iPhone: A warning

Some of the unofficial apps that you'll gain access to after jailbreaking are pretty tempting, and may offer features you'd never otherwise be able to access, but be weary; jailbreaking your iPhone and installing tweaks and apps from disreputable sources may lead to hackers being able to access your iPhone. We recommend only using reputable sources, such as those pre-loaded in Cydia, and staying away from any pirated repositories – it may be tempting to download tweaks for free, but you might be handing over access to all your personal information at the same time!

Apple itself offers advice on the subject of jailbreaking (although you may feel that the company is biased in this respect since it wants to continue getting its cut of the revenue from official app sales). In this tech note, Apple suggests that jailbreaking your iOS device may lead to security vulnerabilities, instability, shortened battery life, unreliability, disruption of services and inability to apply future software updates. It may result in Apple denying service for your device.

Nonetheless, many Apple fans have been jailbreaking iOS devices for years without encountering these issues. But once they've jailbroken such a device, they understand that they should expect no help from Apple if it causes them trouble in the future. With choice comes responsibility.

Read: Pros and Cons of jailbreaking an iPhone.

How to jailbreak an iPhone: tethered. semi-tethered and untethered jailbreaking

What’s the difference between a tethered and untethered jailbreak? Tethered jailbreaks require you to attach your iOS device to your computer and run an application to jailbreak it. If you later power off the device and then restart it, the jailbreak is wiped out, and you have to repeat the entire process. It also means your iOS device is completely useless until you do so, which isn’t convenient.

These kinds of jailbreak were the first to be developed. But what prospective jailbreakers wanted was an untethered method, where the hack would remain in effect even after the device was switched off and on again. This is called an untethered jailbreak, which is what is available for those looking to jailbreak iOS 10.

A third option, semi-tethered, means that you'll have to re-run the jailbreak process after restarting your iOS device or after a certain amount of time passes. It's a good compromise as the jailbreak can be run directly from the device rather than requiring a PC or Mac, but can still be a frustrating experience. 

Read next: How to put music on iPhone or iPad, set up playlists & more

How to jailbreak an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10.2

So, if you want to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad running iOS 10.2, you’ll have to use the recently released Yalu jailbreak, however it’s not all smooth sailing. Unlike with other jailbreaks, the developer has flagged the Yalu jailbreak as being an alpha build, meaning there might be issues on your device. Proceed if you desire, or you can hold off for now and wait for a more stable build to be released in the coming weeks.

Also, the jailbreak only supports certain devices at the time of writing:

  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPad Pro
  • iPhone SE

Unfortunately, those with an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus are out of luck for now, although support should come in the following days or weeks, so we’d avoid updating to iOS 10.2.1 if you’re planning to jailbreak. For those with an iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, iPad Pro or iPhone SE, follow these instructions to jailbreak your iOS device running iOS 10.2.

1) The first step is to download the tools required – you can download the Yalu Jailbreak IPA for iOS 10.2 from here (named yalu102_alpha.ipa at the time of writing), and you can grab the appropriate version of Cydia Impactor (Mac, Windows, Linux) from here.

2) Unzip the Cydia Impactor file you downloaded above, and run it.

3) Once Cydia Impactor is running, connect the iOS device you want to jailbreak to your Mac/PC using the supplied Lightning cable. It should be automatically recognised by the app.

4) Once your iOS device is connected, drag yalu102_alpha.ipa (the Yalu jailbreak IPA) into the Cydia Impactor app, click the ‘Start’ button and click ‘OK’ when an Apple Developer Warning appears.

5) The next step is to ‘sign’ the app using an Apple ID – the developers assure users that the information is used only for signing the app and nothing more, but those who want to be more secure can opt for a secondary Apple ID. Anyway, input your Apple ID email address, click ‘OK’, then input your Apple ID password and click ‘OK’.

6) Cydia Impactor should then automatically prepare everything based on your input, and sign the IPA file. If all goes well, the Yalu app should then be installed on your iOS device.

7) On your iOS device, open the Settings menu and head to General > Profiles & Device Management. Tap the profile named as the Apple ID you signed in using the Cydia Impactor app and make sure you establish it as a trusted developer by tapping Trust.

8) Open the newly installed Yalu app (labelled yalu102) on your iOS device and press the Go button to initiate the jailbreak.

9) Wait while the jailbreak payload is injected into the device – this may take some time, and it’s important that you don’t touch your iOS device during this process. The screen will go white, then will reboot once the jailbreak has been completed.

10) Once the device has restarted, you should see Cydia appear on your Home screen – open the app and begin installing your favourite jailbreak apps and tweaks.

As the jailbreak is only semi-tethered at the time of writing, you’ll have to re-run the Yalu app every time you restart your device to re-jailbreak it. If a fully untethered jailbreak is released in future, we’ll update this section so make sure you keep checking back soon.

Read on to find out how to jailbreak an iOS device running iOS 9.