To Jailbreak Or Not to Jailbreak, That Is the Question


iPhone Jailbreak

I get asked this question a lot by fellow iPhone enthusiasts: “Do you jailbreak your phone?” I know as soon as this question is asked, a healthy debate is about to ensue.

Recently this article was written on Cult of Mac. The author has eloquently stated his case as to why he is in favour of jailbreaking. This opinion is echoed by many of my colleagues, friends and family. However, it is an opinion that I personally do not share.

Before I explain why, I might need to take a step back. There may be some of you that are asking “what does jailbreak mean?” This is certainly a fair and valid question, one that I’d wager will be asked by a larger number of people then you might think.

So, here’s an explanation. Jailbreaking is the name given to the process used to modify the operating system running on an iOS device (including iPhone of course,) to allow the user greater control over their device. This includes the ability to remove Apple-imposed restrictions, and install apps obtained through means other than the official App Store (the most widely-known being a program called Cydia.)

When I debate with pro-jailbreak individuals, they list the various advantages associated with doing this. Admittedly it’s a long list, and usually centres around two main themes: 1) The ability to make small customizations and tweaks to the OS, 2) Downloading apps that one cannot obtain through the Apple’s App Store.

These are both perfectly valid and true points. But this is where the “opinion” part of this opinion piece comes into play. My typical answer to all of these points is simply – “Meh, so what?”

From my experience, I have yet to come across anything that is Earth-shattering enough where I must have it! Don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways I’m a big an iPhone nerd as any. I’ll be the first one to geek out at a party and start discussing the latest iOS software update. But nonetheless, I still have yet to come across that “I want it!” feature I can get by jailbreaking.

My iPhone, as it stands without jailbreaking, provides all the productivity and entertainment I could possibly want in a phone. Between music, movies, games, productivity apps, news, podcasts, books, etc., etc., ETC.! …. that is enough for me!

The App Store has literally hundreds of thousands of applications, some free and the majority being under $5.

I feel that the things I can obtain by jailbreaking do not improve my overall experience enough to justify the effort, and the additional considerations.

Now before you pro-jailbreakers start screaming at me, yes I’m certainly aware how easy it is to do these days. I mean the process practically completes itself! It takes no more than 5-10 minutes for sure.

But still, there are some disadvantages, and other things to consider.

Whenever Apple releases an update to iOS, one must wait for developers to create a jailbreak for this latest version, before one can apply it. Therefore this means you must wait longer to install the latest iOS updates. While this wait time may be small (days or sometimes weeks,) it’s a wait nonetheless.

This also means that you must either 1) Apply the jailbreak every time there is an iOS update, 2) Keep your jailbreak implemented, and never accept Apple’s updates. Neither of these two options is that appealing to me.

Sometimes these updates contain critical security patches, or address annoying bugs in the software. For this reason, I personally prefer to update ASAP.

History has shown that typically the best new features and functionality that can be obtained by jailbreaking, end up showing up in a future release of iOS anyways. For example – the upcoming iOS 6 update will include the ability to use FaceTime over cellular network (not just WiFi,) and full-screen mode for Safari, to name a couple. These are both features I’ve heard jailbreak enthusiasts tout about in the past.

There are other concerns too: impact on battery life, potential warranty violation, and security vulnerability, to name a few. All of these may be debatable, but they are certainly worth considering.

So back to a previous point I made – I’m a patient man, and I can wait. There’s nothing so monumental that I need to have it now.

So in conclusion: to jailbreak, or not to jailbreak? Well, the answer is subjective. It all depends on how much personal value you place on the things you can gain by doing so. Weigh that against the considerations I listed, and there’s your answer. There’s really no right or wrong answer, just opinion.

The general perception I get from those who jailbreak is “I do it, just because I can.” To me, that isn’t a good enough reason.

Now don’t get me wrong – in the future, if the game-changing jailbreak-only feature is released, I’ll be the first one to jump on the bandwagon. But until then, my answer will continue to be “Meh, so what?”

[via Cult of Mac]


  • J


  • roadcarver

    I JB’d cause I need the following tweaks:
    1. Manual correct
    2. NCsettings
    3. Lockinfo (notifications for the stock calendar is up to 24 hrs only, which I think is crap).

  • Junior C

    Completely agree with you 100%

  • According to this article, the main negative to jailbreaking is the long wait that may be required in case Apple releases an ios update and the fact that once a jailbreak update does get released, that the user has to do the entire process all over again.

    This is the same article that talks about being a patient man and that it takes no more than 5-10 minutes to jailbreak.

    I also don’t think that the writer is very objective when talking about the advantages of jailbreaking as he just writes them off as something that will eventually appear in native ios anyways……. I’ve spent two years waiting for sbsettings to be implemented natively and given the ios6 feature list, it looks like I may have to wait some more. I guess I’m just not as patient as the author.

    Just because you don’t find the jailbreak features monumental, doesn’t make jailbreaking a useless process considering it gives users more options than they have with their current phone.

  • Couldn’t agree more. There are 2 kinds of people: tinkerers and thinkers (or creators). The ones who like to spend time doing stuff *to* their device. The latter, who would rather do stuff *with* their device.

  • neo

    The article is contradicting itself. You say that you are patient and yet want to update official iOS updates to your iphone instantly rather then wait (days or weeks) for the jailbreak community to release their version.

  • Anon

    It’s about getting the best return on my jailbreak to me. I think jailbreaking gives me that in spades.

  • k.

    I have a 3G so i’m opened to it. But haven’t yet.

  • K3

    Does anyone know if there is a legit call blocking application in the app store similar to the iBlacklist in cydia yet?

  • Jhowson420

    Jailbreaking allows us Canadians the chance to have a full functioning Siri
    Just like the commercials
    Isnt that worth it to the ppl who bought the 4S

  • FragilityG4

    I think he meant he’s patient to wait for Apple to make updates but wouldn’t be so patient to wait for jailbreaking


  • Jailbreak an iPhone

    I ran the jailbreak on my iPad, but my apps aren’t installing from
    iTunes, it gives me an error on iTunes. I have cydia installed, no wifi
    access at the moment. My iPad is not a 3GS. My Cydia icon is white.

  • MiguelSmithson9805

    “Now don’t get me wrong – in the future, if the game-changing jailbreak-only feature is released…”

    And that’s pretty much why a lot of people do jailbreak — for me that app is Zephyr (change apps / multitasking), activator, and lockinfo! It is all subjective, but some of the tweaks in cydia really are amazing…

  • jabohn

    I’m still waiting to find out how to REMOVE the jailbreak. Every attempt results in an error.

  • Christopher Jones

    Just restore you iDevice

  • Alfonzo

    I thought this article was going to be constructed and different, but it just spewed the same old cliche and redundant arguments against jailbreaking.

    If you’re too paranoid about “security” and “warranty” then just don’t jailbreak.

    I’ve restored my jailbroken iPhone and taken it to the apple store and they have me a new one no problem (sleep button wasn’t working).

  • Yep, you’re right Fragility. That’s what I meant. I like to install iOS updates right away, for the reasons I cited in the article. There may be security patches on there, or other forms of stability or performance tweaks. Things like that.

  • Cool, thanks for the opinion. That’s one of the main points in my article – it’s all about how you feel about what you’re getting by jailbreaking.

  • Hmm this is an interesting one. First of all I never claimed jailbreaking is a “useless” process. Don’t think I used that word once! The main point of my article is that in my personal opinion (that’s what this is, an opinion piece,) the features I get from jailbreaking just aren’t that exciting to me. Clearly you have a difference of opinion, which is absolutely fine.

    Your first paragraph references just one out of the multiple points I made. But let me clarify anyways – I like to install iOS updates right away, due to the reasons in my article and the points I made in answering a previous post. Therefore I would prefer to do that, rather than having to wait for the appropriate jailbreak to be released, before I upgrade.

  • Think you missed my main point. “Security” and “warranty” are just things to consider. However my main point was that the features I get from jailbreaking just don’t interest me that much. To me there is nothing that is ultra cool here. But – that is just my opinion. You’re certainly entitled to yours.

  • Yes, agree with Chris. Should just be able to restore your device using iTunes.

  • Thanks for clarifying my point – it’s all subjective.

  • Siri is going to be fully-functional in Canada as part of iOS 6. But this is another topic entirely. In my opinion, Apple shouldn’t have released it in the first place, if it wasn’t fully functional. Personally though, i’m not a fan anyways. I find Siri still just isn’t efficient enough. I can do things on my iPhone way faster, without her help, thank you very much! But perhaps this is a topic for another article. 🙂

    However, if a fully-functioning Siri is important to you then yes, I could understand why you would see this as worthwhile. To me – just not so important.

  • Gotta be honest – this is confusing. The issues you describe are rather vague, so I’m not sure how to comment on them? Maybe if you try being more descriptive, people can help you out. At the same time though, this isn’t a tech support forum. There are many other jailbreak support forums out there I’m sure, that may be able to help you.

  • Again, to all these I say “meh, so what?” But again – just my opinion. If these features are important to you – then have at it!

  • What a great quote! Wish I would have heard this earlier – would have included it in my article. I think you hit the nail right on the head. It kind of relates to what I said in my article – “I do it because I can.” These are the “tinkerers” that you describe.

  • Thanks! It’s nice to see that at least a couple people do. 🙂

  • This was a very well-spoken, thoughtful, intelligent comment.


  • Thanks for the comment. If these features are important to you, then great. To me, not so much.

    Here’s a thought though – these days, who cares about using your phone like a USB key? With all the cloud storage available these days – isn’t that old-school thinking? Why not simply use a service like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive? (To name a few.)

  • But to me, Zephyr is not that game-changer.

  • I’ve had every iteration of the iPhone, including the original that was never released in Canada. The original had to be jailbroken to be unlocked, so I could use it on Rogers. I have just kept jailbreaking ever since. I love all the extra tweaks and apps.

  • Like you, I too had to jailbreak my very first iPhone, of course. The difference is that I stopped once I got my iPhone 3GS. I just got kinda sick of doing it, and the tweaks weren’t worth it to me. Clearly you feel differently, and that’s cool. Jailbreak away!

  • Dr.80

    I’ve had this discussion with many people and the main point this article bring up is pretty much what people who don’t jailbreak there phones go by. The fact that there’s nothing “groundbreaking” enough to jailbreak.

    For me however its jailbreak all the way. The biggest reason for me to jailbreak is to change the look and feel of your phone. Keep in mind, like music this all subjective. If looking at the same icons in the same layout, listening to the same sounds as every other iphone user is your cup of tea, by all means power to you. You are free to make your own decisions. I like things to be personalized, I like my gadgets to represent me. Not just be another number in the cult of Apple. We live in a world where technology is literally becoming part of us, I think its important to emphasize individuality, especially with Apple products. I’m sure (again subjective) for some changing the background of your springboard or lockscreen is “personalizing” enough. In the jailbreak world you can change everything down to the wifi bars. Literally changing the complete look and feel of your phone so that its YOUR phone.

    This is just my humble opinion tho 😉

  • jabohn

    As I said already, every attempt results in an error – this includes a restore.

  • Lol


  • You’re one of the most well known jailbreakers around.

  • Acer12345

    In my opinion Apple doesn’t offer enough customization and freedom for a phone this expensive and hyped.

  • Acer12345

    Search it up on google, many many tutorials on what to do on certain errors, etc.

  • One reason I jailbreak is that apple imposes limits that dot make sense “just because”. In IOs5 Siri works fine on an iPhone 4 (well as good as Siri does).
    On ios6, FaceTime over cellular will only be available on the iPhone 4s. And the argument that is made is that it needs LTE, but if you don’t have LTE coverage it works. It’s the limiting things for no reason other than limiting them that bugs me.

  • WhatThe

    Why Jailbreak? No-brainer – FREE apps. TomTom, Navigon, Dashcommand, RingItUp Pro, Docs2Go Premium, iWork Suite apps, etc. That’s over $200 in apps.

  • jabohn

    Thanks, I spent hours Googling this topic before. Can’t seem to find anything. The error is iTunes, it comes to the restore part and says it can’t because there was an error, and it leaves the iPhone in recovery mode.

  • Chris

    Personally, I would never have thought about jailbreaking my 3GS until the personal hotspot came out for the 4 only (at the time). Some people don’t have to means to run out and pay $700-800 every year for a new phone or need “the latest and greatest” in technology just because Apple says so. Jailbreaking opens the door to older devices to do certain things that Apple says can only be done on the “newest” devices.
    Apps like 3g unrestrictor allow for bigger apps to be updated without having to find a wifi spot or run home and connect to iTunes. (20Mb is way to low when you have 6Gb per month limit)

    As others have said, this topic is subjective. Some choose to jailbreak for a specific reason, some do it do try out new options, and some either don’t care or are too scared to do it.

    As to fixes of vulnerabilities, if I remember correctly, the jailbreaking community has fixed some stuff faster then Apple. (jailbreakme3.0 use and fix for a bug)

    I think the article at hand was extremely biased and a lot of the comments in support of jailbreaking just get based by the way say as “meh”. If the author doesn’t want to jailbreak, then that is his own choice.
    As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one 😉

  • HR home run god and Mikes hero

    Well said sir!

  • Edward Garcia

    I had the same problem once. I put my phone in DFU Mode and after a couple tries, it restored. You can also try rerunning the jailbreak app.

  • Edward Garcia

    I restored my phone a few months ago because of stability issues. I do miss a couple tweaks like AskTocall and SBSettings but I’m getting along fine without them.

  • joecmwu

    I have to wonder that how much this article writer was paid by Apple from publishing this article?

  • Apple sent him a cheque for $1 billion dollars.

  • Lettreb

    I am an older Apple user and like you very patient. You just reaffirm my belief that jailbreak is not as essential as having a clean and updated phone, thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Mike McCormick

    Haha, rest assured Apple does not pay me. I wish that were the case! In fact, they don’t even know who I am. However, I’d wager that Apple wouldn’t like my article, regardless. I’m sure they don’t anyone to know what the term “jailbreak”even means. The more people that know about it, the more people that may do it. Therefore, any jailbreak-related article is an Apple pet peeve.

  • Mike McCormick

    Edward I think the “stability issues” you mention supports my theory that sometimes jailbreaking can be somewhat risky.

  • Dr. 80 – thanks for the opinion! It’s certainly a valid one. I think this concept of a “tweaker” was mentioned earlier – and that’s the category I’d put you under. You like to tweak everything! And that’s cool. As for me, I’m good with the amount of customization that is available on the stock, non-jailbroken phone. That’s enough for me!

  • Mike McCormick

    “HR home run god” why thank you – I try!

  • Mike McCormick

    Chris – great point, thanks for the comment. Jailbreaking on older devices can be an advantage, as you have illustrated. So clearly this is an important feature to you, and I can see how jailbreaking would be important to you then. But yes you’re right, my opinion is my own and I don’t have the same needs as you. My article isn’t “biased”, it’s an opinion piece. My final opinion is based on the considerations I listed. You have raised an additional consideration that is valid. But it’s not valid to me, and it’s my opinion. Like you said – everyone has one. 🙂

  • Mike McCormick

    jabohn – I think the issues you’re having helps to reinforce my point that jailbreaking can be risky. Unfortunately I can’t help but, I wish you good luck in getting them resolved.

  • Mike McCormick

    Edward – sorry about your stability issues. Interesting though that it sounds like you don’t miss your tweaks all that much. I too had a jailbroken phone at one point and I don’t miss it too much either.

  • Mike McCormick

    Acer – “Apple doesn’t offer enough customization”?? Are you kidding me? There are over 500,000 apps, hundreds of thousands of free podcasts, your entire music library, thousands of games, etc. etc. This isn’t enough to keep your phone as a productive and entertaining device? (Because isn’t that really what it’s all about.) Sounds like you’re a “tweaker”, who likes to tweak their phone down to the tiniest detail just for the sake of it. That’s perfectly fine. I am not though.

  • joecmwu

    Nice, I should write something in Apple’s favour and see if they will pay may me some. Sent from my ASUS Pad

  • Mike McCormick

    Dr. 80 – your statement “f looking at the same icons in the same layout, listening to the same sounds as every other iphone user is your cup of tea, by all means power to you. You are free to make your own decisions. I like things to be personalized, I like my gadgets to represent me.”

    I don’t understand this. About the icons – I bet you there are not two non-jailbroken iPhones that are alike. With the ability to sort apps in any order, and use folders, that offers almost an infinite amount of possibilities. I for one am very anal about my folder structure – I have all my apps organized into logical groupings.

    As for sounds – huh?? Apple does not restrict you to their ringones anymore. I have over 50 custom tones on my phone – all free, and no jailbreaking required. I guarantee you no one else has the same soudnds as me.

    I don’t really understand this piece of your argument.

  • Mike McCormick

    joecmwu: No jailbreak article is in Apple’s “favour”. They want nothing to do with the term. I bet you my article convinced some people not to jailbreak, and some people to jailbreak. So therefore this is not in Apple’s favour. Rest assured I have no affiliation with Apple, nor have they paid me a cent. That would be nice, though. 🙂

  • Mike McCormick

    Gary, haha yes that’s right, I’m now a BILLIONAIRE! MUAHAHAHA (evil laugh!) Move over, Richard Branson! And all this for writing an opinion piece! MUAHAHAHA!

  • Mike McCormick

    WhatThe: I don’t use any of those apps. But that’s just me.

  • Lettreb: Thanks for the comment! Glad you agree with me. I agree with your point – for some reason it does feel satisfying to me to have a “clean” and up-to-date phone.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful, respectful take on my piece, Mike. I totally see where you’re coming from, and I’ve been there myself at times. Sometimes it can be a lot easier to just use stock iOS.

    However, as I mention in my post, it’s become more of a philosophy for me (as I believe it is for many others). Not so much about a specific tweak, but about customizing your iPhone to the point that it’s completely unique.

    But like I said, I see where you’re coming from. 🙂

  • You are just a simple user that is it. It is okay, but i think that Apple should have and option in settings that would say addvanced settings or… Something are simply stupid, like the one with calendar. iOS is grate but there are still many things that need to be improved and some of us cannot wait for Apple to do it. It takes to long.

  • Haha. 😀

  • I’m not quite sure what you mean by “simple” user. Rest assured I use iOS to its utmost capabilities, and this involves lots of tweaking advanced settings to suit my needs. There is plenty of tweaking to be done even within the framework of a non-jailbroken iOS. If you call that “simple” then that is your opinion, but I disagree. As for your comment on calendar – not quite sure what you’re getting at there, I think you need to be more descriptive.

  • Umm yeah having trouble understanding this one, so I can’t comment.