How to upgrade my jailbroken/unlocked iPhone 3g from 3.0 to newer iOS, jailbroken and unlocked?
March 31, 2011 7:31 AM   Subscribe

How to upgrade my jailbroken/unlocked iPhone 3g from 3.0 to newer iOS, jailbroken and unlocked?

I have a jailbroken, unlocked iPhone 3G 16GB. I have not updated the iOS in a long time. In the “about” screen, it lists the version as “3.0 (7A341), and the firmware date at “04.26.08” The carrier is Fido.

I’d like to update the iOS on my phone to something more current, and still have a jailbroken/unlocked phone. (I’m assuming I’d want to upgrade to the most recent iOS, but I welcome other opinions).

How do I go about doing this? My computers all run Windows 7, so I need to use tools that run on Windows.

I don’t mind if, in the process, I wipe all the settings/content on the phone. (In fact, I’d prefer it: The phone is sort of cluttered with apps and stuff, and a clean start doesn’t seem like a terrible idea)

This would be something I’d think I could figure out on my own, but after a lot of googling around, I am just confused. (There's lots on how to unlock from a given iOS but not much on how to move from one iOS to another. And it's really hard to figure out what info is current/reliable)

Can anyone tell me how to do this? Point me to a reliable resource that will explain what I need to do? Thanks!!
posted by ManInSuit to Technology (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: FYI, the 3G doesn't run iOS4.x nearly as smoothly as it does 3.x. iOS 4.0 and 4.1 are especially bad.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:04 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: spike - yeah I wondered about that. I'veheard mixed reports about 4.x on the 3g.

Right now, though, my phone is crazy sluggish, due, I'm guessing, to too much apps/data/jaibreak crap, etc. So it seems like the best thing to do is clean it all up and start again. But a lot of the apps I love no longer run in iOS 3.0, so my thought has been that if I want to re-install, I'd probably be best to go to 4.x.
posted by ManInSuit at 8:11 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: I have the same phone; using it with T-Mobile. OS 4.1, modem firmware [baseband] 05.12.01. [BTW, that's a version number, not a date]

You can upgrade to the latest, 4.2.1, but doing so while keeping your unlock will involve upgrading your phone to the iPad modem firmware, which is a one-way upgrade and makes me a little nervous. I feel like I've read equal numbers of "worked for me" and "GPS doesn't work anymore!'

If you want to go that route, this howto will walk you through it.

Their caveats:
  1. There is no way to come back down from 06.15, and there’s no hiding the baseband version from Apple. You’ll be voiding your warranty in a very obvious way.
  2. If some future baseband comes out with a critical fix, you won’t be able to update to it if it remains down in the 05.xx sequence (then again, you wouldn’t update to it if you wanted to keep your unlock anyway).
  3. Starting with FW 4.2.1 if you have 06.15 on your iPhone you won’t ever be able to restore to stock firmware (it will fail). You’ll need to only restore to custom IPSWs (then again, if you’re unlocker you should already be doing that).
  4. There are reports that 06.15 may disable your GPS. The iPhone Dev-Team is currently working on a fix.
In my opinion, the preferable option is to go as high as you can in iOS versions without upgrading the modem firmware.

That requires one to build a custom ipsw file, but the premiere tool to do that, PwnageTool, runs only on the Mac. Fortunately, you can download a prebuilt IPSW file that will update your 3G to 4.1 while preserving its current modem firmware. You'd use iTunes to restore your phone to that custom firmware [shift-click on the "Restore" button to bring up a dialog which allows you to choose a specific firmware file].

A purported Windows equivalent to PwnageTool is sn0wbreeze. Here's a walkthrough from their forums that does what you want to do. It's much tweakier than PwnageTool, and if I remember correctly I had problems during the latter parts of that method.

To the best of my recollection, my iPhone is running a firmware I built with sn0wbreeze and then restored to the phone using iTunes. I've got Macs at home, but at the time PwnageTool had a bug where it would go off into space for hours trying to use Spotlight to search for the firmware file that was sitting right next to it in the same directory.

4.1 is better than 4.0 was; there's a jailbreak app that lets you turn off multitasking, which helped. 3.1.3 was faster, as I recall. I mostly upgraded for app compatibility.

I do see, every now and then, a spontaneous reboot, usually while trying to launch BiteSMS. I'd say that happens maybe twice a month.
posted by chazlarson at 8:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with spike, 4.x is a huge performance hit on the 3G. You can download 3.1.3, the last 3.x version, here:
posted by Oktober at 8:27 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks! This is all super-helpful. I definitely don't want to break my GPS. Sounds like I have a decision to make: Go to 4.x, with worse performance but greater app compatibility, or go with 3.1.3, with better performance and worse app compatibility.

I'm mostly worried about losing the apps I have: I think a lot of the apps I've been happily running for a while are now in new versions that no longer run on older versions of iOS. My concern is that I will reinstall eveything, and then not be able to re-install the apps I love. (I've already "lost" instapaper in this way). If there's a way to keep outdated versions of apps, to run on my outdates iOS, that would make a big difference to this decision...
posted by ManInSuit at 8:44 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: My household has a jailbroken 3G still running 3.1.2 (for exactly those performance reasons). By far the most effective fix for sluggishness on the 3G is to force-free some memory using the skull-and-crossbones icon in SBSettings. Do that two times right in a row, and the improvement is even better.
posted by kalapierson at 8:59 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you just don't update them, you should be fine. Ignore iTunes and your phone's entreaties to upgrade, and you should then keep the ones you have. When you restore the phone, you'll have to reinstall your apps from iTunes, so if you haven't upgraded the apps in iTunes, you'll be reinstalling the same old versions. If you have, I don't think there's anything to do other than maybe entreat the app authors to send you an old version?

If you haven't upgraded the iTunes copies, copy the contents of your MobileApplications directory to some safe backup location, so if an errant upgrade click does wipe out version x of WizzyApp, you've got a backup IPA file you can drag back over. [NOTE: I think I've done this in the past, but can't swear to it. Try it with an unimportant app first.]

Aside from that, I don't know of a way to ensure you don't upgrade.

On performance: maybe I'm not that picky, but I don't see the performance of my 3G-under-4.1 as being "bad" on a day-to-day basis. It's not like I'm cursing the slowness whenever I use it. It is what it is and I just don't notice it. I'm sure if I had 4.1 and 3.1.3 side-by-side I'd be cursing, but as it is, with just the one phone in my hand, it's working fine. Actually, I guess there is one thing I still notice as being slower, bringing up the camera app. As I try it now, it's ten seconds between tapping the camera icon and being ready to take a picture. But, like I said, after months running 4.1, I'm just used to the camera taking 10 seconds to be ready.

In any case, if you do the upgrade without touching the baseband, and then find that you don't like it, you can always drop back down to 3.1.3 using the very same process as you used to go to 4.1. One advantage of the 3G is that downgrades don't require any special shenanigans. If you do that, make sure you save your old apps before doing the upgrade, so you can restore them.
posted by chazlarson at 9:00 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all this super-useful advice!

Just to be clear - the way to keep my old apps is to sync my phone with iTunes, and then re-install from iTunes once I zap my phone contents? I hadn't thought of that. (I actually don't ever sync my phone normally. I get all my content over the net, sync my contacts/calendar over the net w. google, etc. I'd forgotten all about syncing w. itunes...)

And yeah - my sense from surfing around is that the performance hit from 4.1 is something some people can live with, and some people hate...

Thanks, too, for explaining that I can always try 4.1 and downgrade if I don't like it. I hadn't understood that I could do that.
posted by ManInSuit at 9:13 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: For completeness' sake, here's a downgrade how-to.
posted by chazlarson at 9:28 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, Chaz!!
posted by ManInSuit at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: And yes, if you sync with iTunes, it'll ask to transfer purchases, which will include apps.
posted by chazlarson at 9:35 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: One thing I forgot to mention.

Be very careful about the music on your phone. Apparently, under certain circumstances, you can lose music you've downloaded only on the phone.

For my part, I don't buy music from the iTunes store, but my son does. When we plug his iPod into iTunes, it asks to transfer purchases, and so I have a raft of "purchased on J's iPod" songs which we have transferred back to the iPod after various restores.

I was taken to task in another thread for something along these lines, but I'm not convinced I wasn't misunderstood.

If you have a lot of music from the iTunes store on your phone and not on your PC, I'd suggest using something like Clementine to copy all the music off your iPhone before beginning this whole process.

You can sync your phone, then check your iTunes library to see if everything is in there. If not, use Clementine to copy it off the phone and then import it into your library.
posted by chazlarson at 9:45 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, Chaz! I have little if any purchased music.
posted by ManInSuit at 9:52 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Okay. So, based on the advice I’ve gotten, I think I’ll just go with 3.1.3 for now.

Here’s what I plan to do, and some questions.

1) Download and install a copy of iTunes. Sync my phone to it, and make a backup of the relevant files/folders just in case.
2) Download 3.1.3 from Oktober’s link
3) Install 3.1.3
4) Jailbreak, unlock.

A couple of questions:

Q: How do I upgrade to 3.1.3? Do I use itunes? Will it want to upgrade to 4.2? How to I get iTunes to use the file downloaded from Chaz’s link?

Q: At some point in the process, I think I’d like to just basically re-format the phone for a clean start. How/when in the process should I do that?

posted by ManInSuit at 9:54 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: (Duh - just found the answer to my fist question: "How do I upgrade to 3.1.3?" It is right there in Oktober's link: "you can shift-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) the Restore or Update buttons in iTunes")
posted by ManInSuit at 9:59 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: One more Q: If I upgrade to 3.1.3, using the file from Oktober's link, using "shift-click" in itunes - do I need to do anything special to preserve the baseband? Or do I only have to worry about that in later versions of iOS?
posted by ManInSuit at 10:32 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Okay. My phone is now in a factory-restored state, running iOS 3.1.3.

I now need to jailbreak and unlock it. Does anyone out there have recommendations on what is the best tool to use for this? (I am running windows 7, and a recent version of iTunes...)
posted by ManInSuit at 11:38 AM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: I think I answered all my own questions. I jailbroke the phone using, which seems to have worked okay (and so crazy easy to do). Thanks all for the help!!
posted by ManInSuit at 1:28 PM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: On preview I see you've answered your question, but since this is typed...

How to Jailbreak Your iPhone Using Spirit (Windows) [3.1.2, 3.1.3]

Spirit method won't require you to restore your phone again. I've never used it, but it looks a lot like the greenp0ison method I used on my iPad.

How to Jailbreak Your iPhone 3G on OS 3.1.2, 3.1.3 Using RedSn0w (Windows)

RedSnow will involve another restore. It's operation is similar to sn0wbreeze above. If you've upgraded to a factory 3.1.3 ipsw, you've upgraded your baseband to 05.12.01, so the major advantage of using sn0wbreeze [preserve your baseband] is moot. The RedSnow process is very straightforward, as well.

Unlock iPhone 3.1.3 3G 3GS with ultrasn0w

There is only one game in town for carrier unlocking, UltraSnow. The current release of UltraSnow will unlock basebands 04.26.08, 05.11.07, 05.12.01, 05.13.04, and 06.15.00.
posted by chazlarson at 1:38 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! This was all super-helpful!
posted by ManInSuit at 2:35 PM on March 31, 2011

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