Is it safe to jailbreak an iPhone and how do I jailbreak an iPhone? We take a look at installing blocked iOS apps on the iPhone

How to jailbreak iOS 7

iPhone jailbreaking. Should you; could you; would you? It’s the classic three-parter to any conundrum. In this feature we’re going to look at iPhone jailbreaking to answer the three solid questions our readers ask:

  • Should I jailbreak my iPhone?

  • Can I jailbreak my iPhone?

  • How do I jailbreak my iPhone?

First of all: what is jailbreaking? Jailbreaking is the act of changing the iPhone software to remove any limitations placed by Apple. The principal limitation is that software can only be installed from the App Store. With a jailbroken phone you can install software from a rival to the App Store, and also manually using image files downloaded from the internet.

See:

Opinion: Why I continue to jailbreak

Should you risk jailbreaking your iPhone?

Untethered iPhone jailbreak works, but it won't be released

Should you jailbreak an iPhone?

What does Apple say about jailbreaking?

Apple is, as you’d imagine, firmly opposed to jailbreaking. Apple frequently updates the iOS software to remove any jailbreak software from the iPhone, and is constantly updating iOS to prevent jailbreaking techniques from working.

Part of this is to protect its commercial interests. Apple runs the software store so it wants you to keep using the store. And developers spend time making software and want to get paid.

But there are other concerns: Apple wants the iPhone system to remain secure on the whole, and jailbreaking can threaten that. Apple identifies these concerns:

  • Security: jailbreaking removes the security lay4ers on your iPhone

  • Instability: jailbreaking causes an iPhone to behave erratically

  • Shortened battery life: jailbreaking apps and services may not run correctly which may drain your battery

  • Unreliable voice and data

  • Disruption of services: Services such as Visual Voicemail, Weather and Stocks have been disrupted. iCloud, Exchange and Apple Push notification all suffer (according to Apple) on a jailbroken devices

  • Inability to update. Because Apple frequently removes jailbroken software in its updates, many jailbroken phones do not update. This can result it you running an out-of-date phone.

Read: Apple Support: Unauthorized modification of iOS can cause security vulnerabilities, instability, shortened battery life, and other issues

What is iPhone unlocking?

Jailbreaking is different to iPhone unlocking. iPhones (like all mobile phones) that are sold as part of a contract are often locked to a particular network. This means that if you buy an iPhone from O2, for example, you have to use an O2 SIM card in it. The iPhone is ‘locked’ to that network. Unlocking the iPhone turns it from an iPhone that can only work on the O2 network to one that can work on any network. But you will still be running officially sanctioned iOS software, and still have the software limitations. Unlocking is considered a breach of your mobile phone contract.

See: O2 Ireland to offer iPhone unlocking to customers

What can I do with a jailbroken phone?

The main reason people jailbreak their phones is to  run pirated (copied) software and install it without paying for the privilege. We’re not here to moralize: whether you pay for software is up to you. Although given the amount of free software on the app store, and the sheer hassle it is to jailbreak an iPhone, we do rather wonder why people bother.

The other - perhaps more viable - area is to run apps and services that are not allowed by Apple. Jailbreaking installed a rival to the Apple Store called Cydia. This features apps in areas that Apple bans, such as pornography. But there are also apps that allow you to perform blocked tasks such as tethering; apps that have been removed from the store such as Sparrow. You can also change the default apps replacing Maps with Google Maps and the default keyboard with a version called Octopus. It’s perfect for tinkerers.

See: Cydia opens unauthorised iPhone app store

iOS 6 untethered jailbreak released, Cydia app store flooded

The Cydia app store

How do I jailbreak an iPhone?

If you’re interesting in jailbreaking and you typically install a program on Mac OS X that does it for you. There are two main options available:

Evasion

Redsn0w

At the moment both currently work on iOS 6.0 - 6.1.2 but not for iOS 7.

How does jailbreaking an iPhone work?

There are many different techniques for jailbreaking an iPhone, and a lot of it depends on the model of phone you are running, the firmware on your iPhone and which version of iOS you have. Typically if you have a brand new iPhone with a recently released iOS you are going to have more trouble jailbreaking than an older model that hasn’t been updated recently.

See: Jailbreaking tips: How do I jailbreak an iPhone in iOS 6 and iOS 7?

Is it safe to Jailbreak an iPhone?

Not terrifically, no. While your iPhone isn’t going to blow up in your hand or break the whole internet, it may not work as well as you’d like. Because you won’t get software from Apple

Should I jailbreak an iPhone?

Jailbreaking an iPhone is the sort of thing done by tinkerers. Putting aside the moral arguments about who owns what (and who should pay for what) and you’re left with the practical advantages of jailbreaking: being able to install blocked software and replace key services with the disadvantages of jailbreaking: having a less secure system that’s more error-prone.