The Case for (Not) Jailbreaking Your iPhone

By  |  Monday, August 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

The simplest and most expansive iDevice jailbreak was released last night. In the past, and prior to Spirit, most jailbreak solutions required a computer intermediary running software locally to get the job done. It wasn’t difficult, but it did require research and could be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated. Whereas the new website offers jailbreaking to anyone who can simply navigate to a URL. But I wonder how big the need or interest in jailbreaking is these days.

When I first jailbroke my original iPhone, it was prior to Apple supporting apps… This was the only way to expand iPhone functionality by loading custom software. At the time, my top “illicit” apps were Fring and Twinkle – an early and fine Twitter client. Later on, I had need to jailbreak once again when restrictive 3G policies prevented Skype and SlingPlayer from running on AT&T’s network. Plus, I needed folders before Steve Jobs decided I needed folders. Fortunately, these issues have since been remedied.

Obviously jailbreaks are community developed hacks – exploiting the iSystem to provide deeper and less restrictive access. Along with that often comes buggy behavior, the potential for data loss, and perhaps the voiding of your warranty. And while there are some useful UI enhancements, most of the amateur skinning can’t compete with Apple’s designers. So, with Apple’s large app marketplace and AT&T’s relaxed 3G policies, who needs to jailbreak?

The only path to an iPhone carrier unlock is via jailbreak. And some days I wake up thinking I’d prefer a 2G-only iPhone running on T-Mobile’s network versus my current AT&T coverage blackout (about 8 hours per weekday) and frequently dropped calls. Also, anyone interested in tethering and/or MiFi-esque hotspot capabilities (without paying AT&T twice for the same data bucket) is a good candidate for jailbreaking. In fact, I took a look at MyWi ($20) and was very impressed (pics below) – despite it crushing my battery. But, aside from those two scenarios, I don’t see a pressing need to go down this path. You?

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Shawn Says:

    Sbsettings? Lockinfo? QuickReply? (and those are the three that I can think of offhand that I missed since having a -1 day iPhone4).

    Really? I'm…umm…surprised that you're dismissing this so quickly. If you were a sillier person, which you quite obviously are not, I wouldn't even bother responding to what seems to be completely uninformed/unfounded opinions. Given that that's not the case, I'm just confused.

  2. Shawn Says:

    BTW, if one has never used lockinfo, they have *no idea* how productivity-enhancing it is. David Ashman has done an unbelievable job making that useless lockscreen useful again, with a Ron of great extensions.

  3. shawn Says:

    Ron? Sorry, autocorrect killed me there. That was to be "ton."

  4. RandyD Says:

    I agree that jailbreaking is becoming less of a "must have", and more of a "nice to have" capability. Personally, I was happy to jailbreak my iPhone 4 yesterday so I could run SBSettings (a utility that offers a quick drop down menu to alter various options), 3G Unrestrictor (works perfectly to allow FaceTime calls over 3G when set up properly), and am awaiting a new version of mAdvLock (allows you to passcode lock any application including Mail or Messages). MiWi is also a great app; although I don't wish to spend $20 for it at this time.

    I could survive without the jailbreak, but with the option to enable it so easily, I see no reason to not go ahead and recommend it for just about anyone.

  5. Damen Says:

    The other route to a carrier unlock is to buy an iPhone 4 directly from Apple in Canada. A legally carrier free iPhone! 😀

  6. Mike Cerm Says:

    For only $800! Yeah, right… What really has me puzzled is how Apple is content to sell the iPod Touch for $200-300. Why does the addition of a cellular radio make it OK to double the price? If the handset makers didn't have deals with the carriers, and subsidies to abstract the actual price of the phones, I think we'd be seeing a lot more $300 unlocked smartphones.

    Case in point: the Kindle. The Wi-Fi Kindle is $140, and the 3G Kindle is $180. AND, some of that $40 must go to cover the cost of the free 3G service. So, why isn't the iPod Touch $200, and the iPod Touch 3G, i.e. an unlocked iPhone 3GS, $250? Am I missing something?

  7. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    nope, you aren't 🙂 The phone-market is rotten to the bare bone: the huge difference in rpice between the iPod touch and the iPhone proves that: Same software, same R&D, mostly the same hardware, only difference is the addition of GPS, mic, 3Gchipset and a sim-card holder. Those few additions do NOT justify the quadrupled price (200$ ipod vs 800$ iphone)