Why would I want to jailbreak an iPhone 3GS?
October 14, 2009 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Why would I want to jailbreak an iPhone 3GS?

What are the killer apps/features that jailbreaking allows?

Are there permanent dangers associated with jailbreaking? Can you revert the jailbreaked iPhone back to it's original state if you are not happy with the jailbreak?

There seems to be a new jailbreak that works with update 3.1.2. Anyone have any experience of this process?
posted by SueDenim to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Jailbreaking allows tons of stuff - from multitasking apps to changing things like your "lock screen" to have dynamic content (weather, etc) on it to installing apps that AT&T / Apple won't allow (i.e. VOIP apps, google voice, etc)... Yes, AT&T did recently claim they're opening their network to VOIP now, but no apps that I'm aware of have actually been allowed yet.

My understanding is that no, jailbreaking is not permanent. You can go back to a non-jailbroken phone any time. In fact, if you upgrade your iPhone's firmware when a new version (i.e. 3.1.2) comes out - your phone is no longer jailbroken, and you must do it again. This is why the online media report on it as fast as they do - because people who want the new firmware update are waiting for a jailbreak for it, and are holding back from updating their phones.

I haven't actually jailbroken my phone - but the ONLY reason I haven't done so is that my workplace develops iPhone applications (not as our primary focus at all, but we do dabble), and so I have my phone registered as a developer phone.
posted by twiggy at 7:30 AM on October 14, 2009

Yeah, I'll vouch for being able to unjailbreak. My friend gave me her old iPhone and I jailbroke/unlocked it to use it with T-Mobile if my G1 ever quit (it has not.) I accidentally upgraded my the firmware and *poof* my jailbreak was gone.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:49 AM on October 14, 2009

Thanks for the info so far. good to hear that it is non-permanent.
twiggy listed some useful generalities but i'm wondering what are the specific apps that people jailbroke their iphones to access?
posted by SueDenim at 7:56 AM on October 14, 2009

I jailbroke my 3GS yesterday. I've had every model of iPhone released and this was the first time I've done it. So far, in less than 24 hours of experience to go by, the killer app is Backgrounder. It allows you to run apps in the background that wouldn't normally. This means you can now play Pandora radio while browsing the web or playing games. (Just keep in mind this is still limited by your available RAM and CPU... but the 3GS has plenty to run 3 or 4 apps at a time.)

It's also cool to be able to wirelessly pull photos off of my phone using SSH rather than having to hook up my USB cable and do the whole iPhoto syncing thing.

Also, WinterBoard is neat for themes as long as you don't go crazy with it. Go to the MacThemes Forums to find some really great themes for your phone. I love Eraser 2 and True Matte.
posted by joshrholloway at 8:23 AM on October 14, 2009

Ah, jailbreaking. Once you do it, it's hard to go back to a non-jailbroken phone because you can customize the hell out of it and tailor the phone specifically to your needs.

I jailbroke my phone, and I've never had a problem aside from the occasional Springboard crash, which you just need to restart to recover from. I've a number of apps, but the main ones I use as far as jailbreak-only are categories because I like to have my icons organized, qTweeter to update Twitter or Facebook without having to go into the application, or enable backgrounding because it's a pain in the ass to have to leave an app to do something for just a second then open it again, and I also use emoji. Five Column Dock, the Five Column Springboard, and Calendar Lockscreen, are all options I love that you have only if you jailbreak. As far as looks, Winterboard is a requirement, as well as FontSwap.

You can restore the iPhone to it's original state if you don't like the jailbreak. I jailbroke at 3.0 and haven't upgraded since then so I can't say as far as 3.1.2, but it was an easy process and took no more than ten minutes.
posted by sephira at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2009

Do you give up visual voicemail when you jailbreak? I thought that at least used to be the case, if you're using AT&T.
posted by kimota at 8:31 AM on October 14, 2009

No, jailbreaking does not break visual voicemail. You are still on AT&T, you can still sync with iTunes, etc. "Unlocking" the phone for use on another carrier would break visual voicemail, but that is not the same as jailbreaking.
posted by Roommate at 8:40 AM on October 14, 2009

sbsettings is super handy for quickly turning on and off the wifi/brightness/airplane mode and hiding icons you don't use (stocks, weather, etc). PdaNet lets you use the phone as a modem for your computer (against AT&T's TOS, but whatever).

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: GV Mobile is a decent google voice app. IntelliScreen is cool, too. iLocalis is sweet for tracking your phone, too.
posted by paanta at 9:13 AM on October 14, 2009

I've jailbroken my 3gs (and am currently upgrading to the 3.1.2 jailbreak). So far for me the most used feature of my jailbroken phone has been an "app" called SBSettings. It allows you easy access to turn on/off 3G, bluetooth and WiFi by swiping the status bar. Winterboard lets you customize the appearance of just about everything, and the 5 icon dock is fantastic.
posted by borkencode at 9:53 AM on October 14, 2009

So far VOIP, SBSettings & Winterboard look pretty attractive.

If you were to use VOIP over the 3G network, will your carrier detect this? although AT&T have said they will do this (and other non-US carriers, i.e. Rogers in Canada will probably have to be dragged kicking a screaming to ever allow it), is there a chance that they would punish a jailbroken owner that uses VOIP on their network?

Am I correct in understanding that there are apps that can block calls or even record calls them as you make them (great for dealing with companies etc)?

thanks again to those answering.
posted by SueDenim at 9:57 AM on October 14, 2009

There are a million good reasons to jailbreak, but the thing I can't live without is SBSettings, a fantastic little menu that can be accessed at any time by swiping your finger across the menu bar; it provides one-touch-toggle-switches for most essential settings (wifi on/off, rotation on/off, airplane mode, etc.).
posted by maniactown at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2009

No one mentioned it here... But a jailbroken iPhone can run pirated software too.
posted by jchaw at 10:43 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

so I have my phone registered as a developer phone.
Does Jailbreaking interfere with this?
posted by fightorflight at 11:13 AM on October 14, 2009

I jailbroke my new 3gs running 3.12 only yesterday, using blackra1n. It was the easiest and quickest jailbreak I've done ever, about 60 seconds and all done.

My main reason for doing so is the messaging app replacement irealsms, which is 40 kinds of awesome. Other people have mentioned winterboard and sbsettings, and I would second these comments, they are excellent.
posted by kev23f at 12:53 PM on October 14, 2009

SBSettings is mentioned quite a bit. It gives you easy access to turn things on and off. WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness settings, etc. It also allows you to hide apps you don't need (for me, Stocks and Contacts are useless).

If you install Spotbright you can use Spotlight to search for hidden apps. With SpotSMS, you can even search through SMSs.

Categories allows you to create folders so that you don't have 11 pages of apps. Create a "Games" folder and clear up crazy amounts of clutter.

Rotation Inhibitor (or No Rotation; both do the same thing) allows you to turn the auto-rotate function off. When you're in bed reading a webpage, this saves you from pulling your hair out.

Jailbreaking is fully reversible. However, once you do it, you will NEVER want to reverse it.
posted by smersh at 9:39 PM on October 14, 2009

Can someone explain to me what the ultimate risk is in jailbreaking? This thread makes it sound really great, but I've heard you are risking having your phone rendered essentially inoperable at some point in the future....is this true? How serious is the risk?
posted by noboru_wataya at 7:14 AM on October 15, 2009

Keep in mind that Apple will not service a jailbroken phone. So if you bring it to the Apple Store under AppleCare (which I think is the best thing in the world and everyone with an Apple product should have) or at the very least the 1 year warranty, you will first need to restore it to the original software, or technically they're supposed to turn you away.
posted by dithmer at 8:16 PM on October 16, 2009

In addition to Backgrounder, you will find its companion app, Kirikae to be absolutely indispensible. It basically works like the Mac/Windows Alt-tab task-switching keyboard shortcut key. You just double-click your Home button, and a list of running apps pops up. If you turn the "Animate Switching" option off, you can switch between multiple running apps instantly, with no superfluous "zooming" animation delays.

Invoking Kirikae has become so ingrained in my muscle memory that when I try to use someone else's non-jailbroken iPhone, I just want to throw it at the wall.
posted by melorama at 2:54 AM on October 25, 2009

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