Difference Between Jailbreak and Unlock

When it comes to smartphones, there is often a fair bit of confusion as to what a jailbreak entails, as opposed to an unlock. The trickiest part for most is sorting through all of the nerdy jargon that their more tech savvy are throwing at them and understanding the difference between a jailbreak and an unlock in layman’s terms.

The easiest way to break down the differences between the two is to start at the very beginning. If a person purchases an iPhone, they may wish to alter their firmware. This allows your iPhone to begin running codes that are unsigned and increases your access to files, so that you can sidestep Apple’s policies.

Performing a jailbreak on an iPhone used to be illegal in the United States until very recently. One of the primary reasons people wish to jailbreak their iPhone is to gain access to additional application installers that Apple does not provide. Third party applications are not always available through Apple’s App Store are able to be installed after a successful jailbreak.

Thanks to the restrictions of Apple, there a number of apps that are not able to be installed on a freshly purchased iPhone. Most customers are of the belief that the phone becomes their property as soon as they make the purchase and do not care for these kinds of rules and regulations.

Jailbreaking Your Phone

The jailbreak of an iPhone gives the user far more options as far as customizing their graphics setup. They can also install their own custom themes. Tethering becomes free after a jailbreak and if there are apps out there that do not meet the Apple criteria (which happens for a variety of reasons, both moral and immoral), then you can download them much more easily.

However, it is important to note that an iPhone that has experienced a jailbreak is unable to be covered by warranty. When you purchase the phone from Apple, you are essentially agreeing to leave the phone as is, or forfeit your right to an inexpensive replacement, should something happen to it.

A jailbreak is easy to perform and can be handled by just about anyone with any level of computer or smartphone literacy. If you need to bring your phone to the Apple store and you do not want them to know that you performed your own jailbreak, you can simply launch iTunes on the phone and restore the factory settings from there.

Unlocking Your Phone

Unlocking, on the other hand, is a much different process from the jailbreak. When an iPhone is purchased, it comes with certain restrictions on modem that maintain the SIM carrier. When you wish to eliminate these SIM restrictions so that you can use your iPhone on any carrier, it is time for an unlock.

There is no modification being made to your phone, which makes it much different from a jailbreak. All that an unlock does is allow the user to use their iPhone on a different cell phone carrier. It should be noted that there are two types of unlocking tactics, however.

An iPhone unlock takes place in either the software or the hardware. A software unlock is much less intensive and does not alter the makeup of the phone. During a hardware unlock, there are modifications made to the hardware setup of the phone and it takes much more effort and skill.

A software unlock is considered to be a lot safer because the phone can simply be reverted back to its original form, should there be any sort of issues. Software unlocking can typically be done for free, at a person’s home, whereas a hardware unlock is usually done by a professional, for a negotiated fee.

iPhones are unlocked for two main reasons. One, the aforementioned ability to switch cell phone carriers without punishment. Secondly, an unlocked iPhone has a much resale value on the open market than one that is not. Customers prefer having the option to choose their carrier, as opposed to having one selected for them.

Ironically, an unlock cannot be performed until a jailbreak has taken place, which is the only way these two methods intertwine. Otherwise, they are both very dissimilar and aim to achieve goals that are entirely different.


The one key similarity between the jailbreak and the unlock for iPhone is that they can each be restored to their factory settings under the correct circumstances. A jailbreak can always be reversed by plugging the phone into a computer and changing the settings in your iTunes. The same goes from an unlock, although it can be more challenging to restore your original factory settings after a hardware unlock, as opposed to software.

As you can see, the differences between an iPhone jailbreak and an iPhone are numerous and each action is performed with a completely different objective in mind. A jailbreak is done by a customer who wishes to access far more applications than they would be able to under normal circumstances and increases the ability to customize their phone in a preferred manner.

An unlock is necessary for iPhone users who do not wish to be tethered to the same cell phone carrier for the life of the device and those who are aiming for the highest possible resale value when it is time to trade in (or up). While each of these methods are very different, they are both performed with one key idea in mind: complete and total cell phone freedom.

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