To jailbreak or not?
March 27, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

To jailbreak it not- worth it? I have a 4s, and it's been a couple of years since I've jailbroken an iPhone. What are the drawbacks/Bennifits these days? I know this has been asked before, but these things change quickly, and I think it's worth asking again.
posted by letstrythis to Technology (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Are you on 5.1 already? Because apparently, it hasn't been jailbroken yet.
posted by Oktober at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2012

I unlocked my 3G for notifications and to hide apps. With Notification Center and folders, I haven't felt the need, especially because I was unable to upgrade my OS (modern unlocks don't have this problem.)

I think I would only unlock right now for Grooveshark and maybe Wi-Fi hotspots but Apple has now built in most of what I wanted.
posted by michaelh at 12:08 PM on March 27, 2012

wi-fi hotspots are tempting, but AT&T has been pretty on-the-ball with finding people using them without paying for the tethering plan and slapping the extra $20 on their bill, so it's basically a moot point
posted by Oktober at 12:18 PM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Theres are a few features that jailbreaking allows that you otherwise would not get.

First, there are a few nice tweaks available in cydia that let you do a few things apple does not. I have the "more items in dock" tweak (forget its name) and flu.x (automatically dims your screen at night to a yellow shade to match the light - sound silly but it is super nice in practise)

Second, you can get an app like protubeHD that will allow you to download youtube videos to watch later (a nice thing that you can't do by default) - if you live in an area with spotty coverage or travel alot, then this is a super useful feature

Third, you can enable your phone as a wireless hotspot without paying a silly fee to your carrier (though this may be a violation of your contract so ymmv, I don't have a use for this but in theory it sounds great.)

Finally, I think some of the alternative iconsets that you can get on places like are quite nice.

These are fairly minor things, but they improve my iphone experience substantially on a day to day basis, which is enough for me to make it worthwhile.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:22 PM on March 27, 2012

Go to the latest Jailbreak sites. Read about the latest apps and tweaks. If the new things appeal to you, do it.
Jailbreaking is a slight pain to me because I cant update immediately but the tweaks are often what the updates become eventually. I sometimes go back and forth..
posted by Studiogeek at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, that's basically where I'm at. I'd like to do a few mods, but I like being done with the cat and mouse game. Quick access to wifi control, brightness, etc. nothing major. Kind of wondering what's changed in the last two years. Made my 3G super crash-prone. I like stability.
posted by letstrythis at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2012

There's still no untethered jailbreak for the 4/4s, so if you need to reboot the device it needs to be plugged in at the same time. I haven't been brave enough or fed up enough to attempt jailbreaking yet.

I hear you on wanting easy access to the settings though. It's possible to install "profiles" on your iPhone that become a one-button link to settings like brightness, wifi and airplane mode, etc. Someone had a page online for direct downloading of premade ones, but something happened to them in my phone's latest update... Haven't tried to fix that yet. Appmodo has instructions on how to make your own here
posted by lizbunny at 12:34 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lizbunny- 5.1 undid those tweaks. That's why I'm considering taking the plunge.
posted by letstrythis at 12:51 PM on March 27, 2012

I've been jailbreaking my iPhone since the 3GS. I currently have a 4S and it's jailbroken, but it's not as stable as previous versions of the phone used to be when jailbroken. The 3GS used to run fine even with a bunch of 3rd party tweaks and icon replacements. However, my 4S used to crash at least once a day. Eventually I had to uninstall tweaks one by one until it got to a stable state. Currently the only jailbroken app I have is SBSettings for the toggles that you mentioned.

In short, I wouldn't recommend jailbreaking unless you really want those quick toggles.
posted by yodangson at 1:13 PM on March 27, 2012

I don't see many drawbacks to jailbreaking as soon as an untethered jailbreak is available.

All the tweaks in SBS settings/Activator is enough reason for me. I can triple-click the power button to activate the LED flashlight. I had a flashlight app but would rarely actually use it since it's cumbersome to unlock, flip around, open the app, etc. With the triple-click, I actually use the flashlight all the time.

Also if you use multiple bluetooth devices, setting up a shortcut to go straight to the bluetooth menu is helpful.

Can't remember the name of the app, but there's one that puts pictures next to the list of names in your contacts. Not a big deal, but nice.

I use mywi on occasion, it can be a huge help when you need to connect on your laptop. Don't know how stringent AT&T is, I use an AT&T re-seller and they're not as strict.
posted by skewed at 1:16 PM on March 27, 2012

I recently JB my 4s (sorry lizbunny your info is incorrect on in there'd JB for 4S, it has been out for a few months now) and I really enjoy the tweaks that it allows.

-Fast access to settings and other controls

-themes and styling mods

-incredibly well designed mods such as Deck from SBCoders

-hot spot tethering

The biggest con for me is just not being able to do a complete reinstall, with JB and mods for maintainence purposes.

Very satisfied
posted by silsurf at 1:48 PM on March 27, 2012

There have been a bunch of jailbreaking posts on AskMeFi previously. You'll find links to all sorts of cydia goodies. If you are still on IOS 5.0.1 then you can do the deed. I would recommend it highly. Life without these tweaks is unthinkable for me (they 'fix' my iPhone):

SBSettings: Access system settings with a swipe
BiteSMS: Dynamic and streamlined iMessage/sms upgrade
TetherMe: Free 3G tethering
iFile: Move and edit any file (great accompaniment to dropbox)
AnyAttach: Attach files to emails
LockInfo: Calendar and other notifications on lockscreen, permanently
AdBlocker: Block web advertisements; speed up browsing
SpringFlash: Double-tap the lockscreen clock to turn your phone into a torch (only works for 4 and 4s)
DataDeposit: Backup your apps to dropbox for safe keeping and future upgrades, or sync between IOS devices without iCloud

The 4s is currently un-jailbreakable on IOS 5.1. Keep track of the community at and/or redmondpie. A jailbreak is just around the corner.
posted by 0bvious at 3:38 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work on Cydia so I'm terribly biased, but I think jailbreaking can be really fun and useful for anyone who likes to play around with software and doesn't mind doing a bit of troubleshooting occasionally. It lends a more flexible way of thinking about software: we don't have to settle for all the decisions made by the original publisher of a piece of software we use - instead we can also collaboratively make and use small alterations and adjustments, adding more capabilities and covering more use cases. This isn't a new or original idea (see also: open source software, random scattered plugins available for desktop operating systems, etc.), but the jailbreaking/Cydia ecosystem makes this practice accessible to a wide range of people who don't know how to code (or don't feel like doing it all the time) but know enough to research, install, and configure small bits of software.

OK, other than conceptual reasons, there are lots of interesting tweaks and themes available for jailbroken devices, from practical to fun and back. This is one thing that Reddit threads can actually be helpful for - here are a few threads where a lot of people suggest packages worth looking into: three months ago, two months ago, also two months ago, and another one (disclosure: I help moderate that subreddit). For news about new tweak releases, there are a few blogs that cover this beat - try iDownloadBlog's jailbreak tweaks category and ModMyi's jailbreak tweaks category.

I have the "more items in dock" tweak (forget its name) and flu.x (automatically dims your screen at night to a yellow shade to match the light - sound silly but it is super nice in practise) — "Five Icon Dock" (free) lets you put an extra app in your dock, and Infinidock ($2) lets you put as many apps as you want in your dock. And you have to spell that tweak f.lux in order to find it in Cydia. :)

Can't remember the name of the app, but there's one that puts pictures next to the list of names in your contacts. — You're probably thinking of Cyntact.

For accurate news about the current status of jailbreaking various devices, the Dev Team Blog is the primary official source. It can be tricky to decipher though, so part of my work is maintaining more-organized information on JailbreakQA (and on the help pages within Cydia for reference after you jailbreak). This help page explains the current jailbreaking status:
Status of iOS 5.0.1: All devices running iOS 5.0.1 can be jailbroken untethered.

Status of iOS 5.1: iPad 2 and iPhone 4S cannot be jailbroken on iOS 5.1. There is no publicly-available jailbreak for iPad 3rd generation. But iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 1, and iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation can be jailbroken tethered on iOS 5.1.
posted by dreamyshade at 3:38 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

letstrythis: "Quick access to wifi control, brightness, etc. nothing major. "

Ah! If that's what you want here's a non-jailbreak way to do it!
posted by IndigoRain at 5:47 PM on March 28, 2012

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