A jailbreak for most Apple devices (including the iPhone 5) is due out this weekend. If you’re like me, and love the functionality jailbreaking brings, you’re itching to install Cydia on your shiny new iPhone 5. Or maybe you have no idea why your iPhone is in jail, or how breaking it out can help or hurt you. Read on to find out.

What is Jailbreaking?

According to Wikipedia, jaibreaking is “the process of removing the limitations on Apple devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits” When you jailbreak your phone, you use one of those exploits to modify the operating system and gain access to all of the iPhone’s core programming. We’ll discuss why you would want to do that in a bit. But rest assured that jailbroken iPhones can still access iTunes and perform all the functions of any other iPhone.

Is it Legal?

Yes. But probably not on iPads.

What are the Benefits?

There are numerous benefits to jailbreaking your iPhone. First of all, you can do a lot more with the phone. There are thousands and thousands of little tweaks by creative developers that let you configure everything from touch-gestures to app icons. The real advantage is not in any individual tweak or app, but the freedom to do with your iPhone what you want.

In my opinion there are many jailbreak apps that make the iPhone simply easier to use. For example, SBSettings lets you quickly toggle Bluetooth, WiFi, Vibrate, and many other features on and off with a simple swipe right from the home screen. LockInfo, a personal favorite, gives your lockscreen significantly more functionality. Like its competitor IntelliScreenX, LockInfo can display recent e-mails or texts, upcoming appointments, the weather, and stock prices right on the lock screen. It is reminiscent of the Blackberry’s “Today” view, and makes it much easier to see what you have going on at a glance. BiteSMS is a great alternative to the stock text message application. By setting up a hotkey, you can compose a message while in another app, without leaving that app. You can also reply to messages without leaving the current app.

There are several tweaks that are well worth the risks of a jailbreak as well. With them, you can make Chrome your default browser, so you no longer have to open links in Safari. You can also exert more control over the appearance of your homescreen, changing everything from the app icons to the layout.

What are the Risks?

By jailbreaking your phone, you void the warranty. If you take it into the Apple store, they can tell immediately that it has been manipulated and will not service the phone. Luckily, you can always restore the phone to its original state if there are serious issues that require the Genius Bar. Because you are modifying the operating system, there is also a risk that something in the modified OS could break down, causing a crash. Since you can’t call Apple support, you’re pretty much at the whim of the Internet to fix your issue.

The other main risk is that you could brick your phone. In other words, ruin the software to the point of no return. Having jailbroken numerous phones for myself and others, I’ve never experienced this. But it’s a definite risk to consider.

Do you jailbreak your iPhone or iPod? Let’s hear about your favorite apps and tweaks in the comments.


  1. Curious Lawyer says:

    This was a really interesting article. As a lawyer who’s also been itching to jailbreak my iPhone–if nothing else, for Tasker-like abilities–I’m curious: are there ethics opinions in your jurisdiction (PA) that allow it? I imagine you’re probably using your iPhone for both business and personal uses (like I do), but I’m not aware of any opinions issued in my jurisdiction (MN) that allow it, so I’m wondering how Pennsylvania views the security vulnerabilities in view of its ethical rules. Maybe PA’s reasoning could give me support for a petition here.

  2. sio101 says:

    Tweaks that I absolutely cannot do without and necessitate me only upgrading my iOS until there’s a jailbreak out are: 1. Spotdict (make the dictionary easily accessible in your spotlight section [swipe left when on home screen]); 2. NCSettings (like SBSettings but much more congruent with the look and feel of iOS); and 3. SwipeSelection (enable better navigation between letters in words when typing).

    Love the blog. Keep up the great work!
    Law Student,

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