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Why iPhone Jailbreak is Probably Dead

Updated on December 1, 2017
amuno profile image

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

The Cydia app in a jailbroken iPhone
The Cydia app in a jailbroken iPhone

When the first iPhone was released in 2007, the smartphone consumer market went abuzz with excitement. The fans were a little disappointed though with the limited inbuilt features and hoped for better tweaks and apps.

Soon, the geekier enthusiasts went for sneaky ventures to do just that, and thus, iPhone jailbreak was born. The jailbreak added nice tweaks and functionality to the iPhone

Numerous workshops, blogs, forums and websites sprung up, all with jailbreak and unlock tools. The community grew and is still out there.

Unfortunately, the excitement has since ebbed in the last few years. The fanfare that followed every firmware jailbreak has become muted have to be reminded the hack still exists.

Below are some reasons which may have contributed to the loss of interest.

1. Security and Stability Issues

Apple cares about its products and you can bet it makes its hardware and software very stable. It applies regular patches to fix security holes with constant IOS updates.

iPhone jailbreak tools, on the other hand, are manipulated by software apps and tweaks that have not undergone rigorous tests and security vetting.

Consequently, a jailbroken iPhone is prone to crashes in the springboard, apps, multitasks, and looping safe mode; this especially for users who regularly download and install new items – the very purpose of jailbreaking anyway.

Dealing with these may not be welcome for the ordinary user. It is much like troubleshooting computer failures. And with diminishing number of new and groundbreaking tweaks from developers, many folks find themselves re-evaluating their options.

Some jailbreak tools will make an iPhone crash randomly
Some jailbreak tools will make an iPhone crash randomly

2. Better Features in New IOS

The innovations starting with IOS 7 was also bad news for the jailbreaking community. It struck the core reasons why jailbreaking actually thrived.

The original iPhone was absurdly plain yet ripe with possibilities for rebel developers. Jailbreakers promptly came up with appropriate apps and tweaks to help out. These apps and tweaks soon became best sellers.

Apple thought it better to integrate them into IOS 7 and all new firmware versions.

Below are popular apps and tweaks that were available only in jailbroken iPhones and were featured in IOS 7:

Internet hotspot:

The original iPhones lacked the personal hotspot feature. This was introduced in IOS 7. Personal hotspot enabled the user to create a network hotspot to allow multiple devices to share internet connection.

Multitasking:

Multitasking as is today, was only available via jailbreak apps until Apple took it up. It allowed for quick switching between apps and storing running apps in the background. The user was able to open multiple apps and use them one after the other.

Wi-fi Sync:

Wireless sync was not part of the iPhone until the release of IOS 5 in 2011. Before then, jailbreakers used third-party apps to enable over-the-air sync feature. Wireless sync enables users to sync data between Apple devices.

Notification:

Push notification was also absent in older iPhones until June 2009, when it was introduced in IOS 3.0 alongside iPhone 3GS. The notification feature is enabled for instant notification of latest messages, news, events and other alerts.

3. Ultrasnow Unlock is Long Dead

The traditional unlock via Ultrasn0w and Gevey sim interposers ruled the market for quite some time.

The software-based Ultrasn0w, in particular, allowed the user to unlock the iPhone right in the comfort of the sofa, and for free!

The introduction of iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and accompanying security fixes seemed to have made it extremely hard to break into IOS firmware using Ultrasn0w.

Despite the addition of Ultrasn0w Fixer for IOS 6, unlock via Ultrasn0w has become a thing of the past!

Ultrasn0w
Ultrasn0w

The last successful exploit was effective only in iPhone 4 baseband (01.59.00) and iPhone 3GS basebands (04.26.08 – 05.11.07 – 05.12.01 – 05.13.04 – 06.15.00).

Those who are still stuck with these basebands and iPhones models can continue benefiting from the service, well aware they will need to upgrade one day.

With Apple now offering factory unlocked iPhones, and most carrier networks offering to unlock iPhones without much of a fuzz, there is probably no need to go the ultrasn0w road any longer.

4. Impact on Battery Life

It is almost a decade since mainstream phone enthusiasts boasted of phone batteries that went for days without charging. Enter the smartphone era, and that is a thing of the past.

At most, the modern smartphone battery is useful for only one day.

The iPhone battery is however impacted more by the installations of jailbreak tools. Whereas, the user can monitor and 'kill' apps that run in the background, most rather unverified apps that are installed in jailbroken iPhones are notorious for eating away the battery.

Some jailbreak tools and apps eat away the battery
Some jailbreak tools and apps eat away the battery

5. Update Limitations

Yes, every time a new IOS update is released by Apple the jailbreak community is always told to wait a little longer until 'issues' are sorted out!

Those that get ahead of themselves and jailbreak out of ignorance get stuck with un-usable iPhones and have to re-do the firmware installation.

In the same vein, unlockers who depend on Ultrasn0w tweaks also have to wait before new unlock 'fixes' become available.

6. Cydia Repositories are Closing Up Shops

A list of popular jailbreak repositories decided to call it a day in late November 2017. If there is one reason which should point to the demise of iPhone jailbreak, then this is it. These sites have been the alternative to App Store for apps.

Repositories are bedrocks of the jailbreak community and the core reason for its survival. Their demise simply means no more apps and tweaks!

Popular repositories that closed up shops include:

Both were part of the three default Cydia sites, and their decision was blamed on reduced user interest and the cost of maintaining app servers.

Cydia repositories
Cydia repositories

7. ... and No New Tweaks

Now that some repositories are quietly opting out, so are the remaining few struggling against the now war hardened Apple.

After successfully integrating jailbreak features like hotspot, push, wifi sync, multitasking etc, the few hardened ones are left with the difficult task of coming up with even newer apps and tweaks, good enough to entice new converts.

The innovation is not happening fast enough and there seems not to be much difference between what jailbreakers have to offer and what is available in App Store.

Consequently, users begin weighing pros and cons between App stores and Cydia repositories.

Do you think iPhone jailbreak is still relevant?

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Final Thoughts

Apple found a lot of inspiration from jailbreakers and the thought of silencing the iPhone jailbreak community must be overwhelming. Its aggressive drive to patch all holes and gaps in its IOS is speaking volumes. It probably wants everyone to create apps or express their software grievances via App Store.

As matters stand now, most jailbroken features, save for the cores SBSettings and Winterboard, are well integrated into IOS. This gives little reason for users to venture into jailbreaking, a territory that demands continuous caution lest they make their devices dysfunctional.

© 2013 Alfred Amuno

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    • amuno profile image
      Author

      Alfred Amuno 4 years ago from Kampala

      You are right Anonymous about the desire to have full access to the root of IOS. Would be the ultimate desire for most if it actually came straight from Cupertino. But we know well it will never happen and users have to depend on jailbreak tweaks to get a few features running. How I wish that jailbreak tweaks were as clean, but again it can never be.

      Thanks for your view.

    • Anonymous00 profile image

      Anonymous00 4 years ago

      Great summary. I personally stand behind jailbreaking. Quite similar to rooting an android, flashing a custom ROM or debranding a mobile. The main benefit to jail breaking is to have full unrestricted access to the device. Minus all carrier branding, tweaks, and lockouts. Opening up a higher level of customization and capability for the user. I am much more in favor of a phone capable of being modded than I am with pure stock firmware. Great report however. Nice work.