Jailbreaking the iPhone 3G
August 18, 2008 11:38 PM   Subscribe

Considering jailbreaking my iPhone 3G with Pwnage. A few concerns.

I don't want to switch off of AT&T. I just want free ringtones and a couple other non-approved apps. Here are my questions:

First, before anything else, my biggest fear is that my phone will somehow be destroyed in the process (I think it's called 'bricking?"). What are the risks? Will my phone permanently stop working (and I'll have to buy a new one) if something screws up? Will I have to buy a new one? What happens if I need repairs from the Apple store? Is there any way to do a backup beforehand that will keep my iPhone safe come Hell or high water?

(1) How easy is it to jailbreak? How easy is it to download unapproved programs? I'm not a programmer by any means, but I'm fairly computer literate.
(2) Will anything (apps, functions, visual voicemail, etc.) stop working post-jailbreak?
(3) Should I go ahead and not install updates on my iPhone post-jailbreaking?
(4) Where can I find/download good jailbreak apps?
(5) Anything else I should know?

posted by JamesJD to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
First caveat: I do not have an iPhone. These answers are given based on my experiences "modding" other devices, none of which went well or are worthy of detailing here.

As a general rule, before you start mucking with the electronic brains of any computer-type device, this statement:

I'm not a programmer by any means, but I'm fairly computer literate

needs elaboration. By which I mean, do you know just enough about computers to be dangerous, or do you truly know how the software you're proposing to use works and what its effects are, and how to roll back to your device's original state if it doesn't appear to work? If you struggle with these questions, I would suggest either not jailbreaking your phone, or finding a friend or coworker who's better at these things than you, explaining what you want, and buying them copious amounts of beer to do it for you.

To answer your questions:

1. You answered your own question re: risks. Your phone may stop working, and if it does, you will have to buy a new one. Apple takes a hard line on jailbreaking, and if you do brick your phone, there's no going back; make sure you're prepared to take that risk before you attempt to do this yourself.
2. If it is apparent that your phone has been bricked in an attempt to jailbreak it, Apple will in all likelihood not repair it.

Sorry I can't help with what kind of apps/updates to find post-jailbreaking. Please make sure that you know what you're doing before you start, though - I'd hate to see you end up with a dead phone for want of a few ringtones.
posted by pdb at 11:51 PM on August 18, 2008

A few ringtones and apps are not worth possibly ruining your phone.
posted by mdonley at 11:57 PM on August 18, 2008

I have used the pwnage tool on 2 iPhones, but not for myself for other people.

I like to keep my iPhone upto date and thats the biggest downside to jailbreaking for me.

The pwnage tool is pretty easy to use sos you should have no problems, the only tricky bit is flashing the baseband but you wont be getting involved in that so dont worry.
posted by moochoo at 12:27 AM on August 19, 2008

Response by poster: I should note that it isn't just ringtones. I'd also like to use internet tethering, NES games, youtube downloading, app skins, and synch step.
posted by JamesJD at 12:33 AM on August 19, 2008

Wow. I'm sorry about how everyone seems to make the whole process seem weird or dangerous. It's not. You don't lose your AT&T connection, you'll still be using the latest version of the iphone software (just don't upgrade to yesterday's 2.0.2 because people are complaining it's a really bad upgrade from Apple), and it just works.

Mac: I don't know if you're on a Mac or a PC, but if you're on a Mac you use the Pwnagetool (latest version is 2.02) to create a firmware that is "jailbroken". It's easier than it may seem - you run it, pick your iphone version, it creates the firmware on your desktop, then you use iTunes to send the firmware to your phone, and it's done.

PC: If you're on a PC, you can use the Quickpwn tool that came out yesterday (don't let that scare you, it works fine). It is faster than the process on a mac because it "patches" the firmware you have on your phone already, thus meaning you don't have to wait for iTunes to send a whole new version to the phone.

A few important notes: the iPhone is *extremely* hard to break. If anything goes wrong all you have to do is click restore and it's all back - really. You shouldn't be afraid of trying any of this. Just be sure to do one backup before you get started (actually, iTunes already backs everything up for you automatically whenever it syncs), by right clicking the phone on iTunes and selecting back-up. Restoring a backup is accessed through that menu as well.

Also, you'll notice I didn't link to the tools directly on the paragraphs above, but to the posts that mention them, because I think they're good starting points for you. There's comments on each of them with people's experiences so you can have a parachute to fall into if you need help. But trust me, you'll do just fine. If you need any help, get in touch.
posted by fredoliveira at 4:23 AM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

You can make ringtones from anything on the iPhone for free without jailbreaking.

I've used the NES game emulator on a jailbroken iPhone and it was pretty lame. The touch-screen game controls were especially frustrating. (Though I admit, it *sounds* neat.)

You won't be able to install updates after jailbreaking -- doing so will run the risk of bricking it.
posted by whiskeyspider at 4:24 AM on August 19, 2008

Response by poster: "You can make ringtones from anything on the iPhone for free without jailbreaking."

posted by JamesJD at 5:09 AM on August 19, 2008

Ok poster, I have tried 4 times to Jailbreak my phone and every time It jacked my phone up. Its a bit tricky and scary, every time I did it, it shut my phone down for 20 min...scared me to death.

I want my phone jailbroke, but I also need a phone, so I gave up....
posted by TeachTheDead at 5:10 AM on August 19, 2008

Yeah... here's how to make free ringtones: ehphone.ca/2008/08/ringtones/.

It's a little convoluted, but it works.
posted by ph00dz at 5:12 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

If your on a mac, use Garage Band....thats what I do...for ringtones
posted by TeachTheDead at 5:21 AM on August 19, 2008

on the mac i use iToner for custom ringtones, pretty easy to use which is always a plus
posted by moochoo at 5:29 AM on August 19, 2008

How to create ringtones with GarageBand (free - as long as you have a semi-current version of GarageBand.)
posted by filmgeek at 5:44 AM on August 19, 2008

Yeah, just another person to tell you that it's *very* hard to actually brick your iPhone. But what I would recommend, just in case, is that I've noticed that these tools (particularly Winpwn) will allow you to add a custom boot picture (I think it's a pineapple or something). I would recommend you not do that just in case something horribly wrong happens with your phone where you actually have to bring it into an Apple store. I don't have links, but I've heard stories of people actually doing that, the Appleguy seeing the pineapple, and laughing in their face.
posted by booticon at 6:39 AM on August 19, 2008

(1) How easy is it to jailbreak? How easy is it to download unapproved programs? I'm not a programmer by any means, but I'm fairly computer literate.

PwnageTool makes it very simple. The only hitch I had was that the first time I tried to do it, I forgot to hold down Option when clicking Restore in iTunes, and ended up re-installing the default firmware instead of the custom bundle.

(2) Will anything (apps, functions, visual voicemail, etc.) stop working post-jailbreak?

Everything works fine on my iPhone 3G post-jailbreak.

That said, with the advent of the App Store, there is a lot less reason for casual users to jailbreak their phones. SIM unlocking is still not available for the 3G (though you stated that is not a motivation for you). Many apps formerly available through Cydia or Installer (two package managers available for jailbroken phones) have not been ported to the 2.0.x OS yet. The apps which are available for casual users are not very impressive when compared to even the free offerings from the App Store.

The good bit, IMHO, is the ability to get ported unix software running on the iPhone. If you're not interested in that, it may not be worth the hassle.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:39 AM on August 19, 2008

I've jailbroken my iPod Touch several times (but not since the 2.x firmware came out) - never had an issue.

However, I've tried custom firmware on my phone (Windows Mobile device) and it knocked all network settings out ... Explaining that to their carrier would be difficult for most people, luckily I had an edge/distinction... Never did get that firmware working, fell back to the standard.
posted by jkaczor at 9:07 AM on August 19, 2008

"You can make ringtones from anything on the iPhone for free without jailbreaking."

I like MakeiPhoneRingtone.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2008

Note that you need to turn off the "Activate" option if you use WinPWN. I left this enabled, and lost all connectivity to AT&T. Fortunately, all I needed to do was jailbreak again w/o this checked.
posted by jpdoane at 12:52 PM on August 20, 2008

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