Jailbreaking Your Phone

Jailbreaking a phone opens it up for custom modifications

To jailbreak a phone is to modify it so that you enjoy unrestricted access to the entire file system. This access allows for changes that aren't supported by the phone in its default state.

Jailbreaking can be thought of as metaphorically breaking the phone out of its jail or prison. When the phone is free from certain bounds set by the manufacturer or wireless carrier, the device owner gains more control over the device and how it performs.

Young woman sitting on grass using a cell phone
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Devices that are commonly jailbroken are iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads, but many people are now jailbreaking devices like Roku sticks, Fire TVs, and Chromecasts. Jailbreaking an Android device is normally called rooting.

Why People Jailbreak Phones

Probably the most common reason to jailbreak a phone is to install custom apps that couldn't otherwise be used on the phone. Apple blocks some apps from being released on the App Store but jailbroken iPhones support sideloading, or adding an app outside of the manufacturer's app store.

One more reason jailbreaking is so widespread is because it lets you truly customize your phone. By default, the iPhone's app icons, taskbar, clock, lock screen, widgets, settings, etc. aren't configured in a way to let you change the colors, text, and theme, but jailbroken devices support custom skins and other tools.

Also, jailbroken devices can remove apps that you can't normally delete. For example, on some versions of the iPhone, you can't remove the Mail, Notes, or Weather apps, but hacking tools let remove those unwanted programs.

Potential Problems with Jailbreaking

While jailbreaking makes your device more open and gives you greater control, it increases vulnerability to malicious apps and introduces potential stability problems. Apple has long been opposed to jailbreaking (or any "unauthorized modification of iOS") and notes that unauthorized modification of the system is a violation of the end-user license agreement.

Also, Apple enforces strict guidelines for how apps are developed and it's one reason most apps work flawlessly on non-hacked phones. Hacked devices don't have such a rigorousness standard and therefore result in jailbroken devices losing battery faster and experiencing random iPhone reboots.

In July of 2010, however, the Library of Congress Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking your phone is legal, stating that jailbreaking is "innocuous at worst and beneficial at best."

Jailbreaking Apps and Tools

Find jailbreaking tools on websites like PanGu, and redsn0w. Kodi, too, is a popular app for jailbreaking.

Be cautious of the apps you use to jailbreak your phone. Some of them could include malware and while they might hack your phone successfully, they could install keyloggers or other tools that you don't want on your phone.

Jailbreaking, Rooting and Unlocking

Jailbreaking and rooting have similar purposes for gaining access to your entire file system but are used in the context of iOS or Android, respectively, while unlocking refers to removing restrictions that prohibit the use of a phone on a different wireless carrier's network.