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Why You Would Want to Jailbreak Your iPhone

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/24/2011

Your friends are out there doing it, you've heard rumors about it, but yes, you can jailbreak that phone of yours to do some neat stuff. But what does jailbreak even mean? Why even bother? That and so much more inside.

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    Unlock, Expand, Create

    Jailbreaking your iPhone, it sounds caustic, problematic, and difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks to enormous advances by a group that calls themselves the "Dev team", jailbreaking your iPhone is a fun experience that anyone with two hands and a little patience can do.

    The question becomes then, "why jailbreak my iPhone"? Surely your iPhone in its current state operates just fine, makes calls, plays some games, can download apps, music, etc. What else is there to do with the iPhone that's not built in? To answer these questions let's talk about what jailbreaking a phone actually does, and how it's different from "unlocking" it.

    Jailbreak is a modern term for the exploitation of flaws in the iPhone's system in order to fully unlock the potential behind the device. To put it layman's terms, a jailbreak just makes your iPhone "all that it can be" in the best of senses - allowing it to run some great apps.

    The reasons behind jailbreaking your phone are numerous. Perhaps you're attracted to being able to run the greatest apps that aren't available on the iTunes App Store - including those that change the phone's background (not the lock screen, but the actual background), those that change the entire UI including icons, backgrounds, noises, etc, or even those apps that give you customized ringtones. Maybe you're drawn to the fact that you can run some great free games on there once the jailbreak is complete - including Quake for iPhone - a port of the original Quake made entirely to run on the iPhone.

    Or, maybe jailbreaking is the only way that you can run the iPhone on your cellular network of choice. Keep in mind that jailbreaking the phone won't automatically unlock it (unless you select that option), and you'll still need to change out the iPhone's SIM card, a task easier said than done.

    I know personally, the appeal to me was being able to run apps that I couldn't get on the app store, or change my backgrounds to a Gears of War 2 theme for a month, or even using OpenSSH to transfer files over my Wi-Fi network directly onto the phone without worrying about those pesky USB cables.

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    Benefits to Jailbreaking Your iPhone

    Whatever the reasons, jailbreaking your iPhone is a smart decision in more ways than one - first of all, it'll immediately make you a more advanced user in multiple ways, you'll know what DFU mode is, how the jailbreak works, and because Cydia and Installer (the two jailbreak apps for the iPhone) aren't what you'd call apps for beginners, be prepared to suffer through some steep learning curves in the beginning.

    By following the guide How to Jailbreak and Unlock 4.2.1 Firmware on iPhone 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4, you'll be up and running in no time, and those great applications I keep mentioning will be just a click away. Here are a few to wet your appetite.

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    Winterboard & Summerboard

    These two apps accomplish the same feat - giving your iPhone a brand new look, changing that plain black background that comes pre-installed to a snazzy new piece of art, or changing the dock at the bottom to have a different look altogether. Winterboard and Summerboard are incredibly easy to use, and the best part is, you can choose your level of customization inside the program, so you can replace the background, but not your customized ringtones and vice-versa. Using this app, you'll be able to wow your friends with a totally different look for the iPhone that they've never seen before.

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    MewSeek & PwnPlayer

    When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe it. MewSeek is an application that works like a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) program, allowing you to search the collections of other iPhone users and download from their songs, videos, etc. While the program is still in what appears to be a beta, it works incredibly well. The only caveat is that to listen to your downloads, you'll have to use the associated Pwnplayer, which works quite well.

    And these four apps are just scratching the surface of what's possible once you've jailbroken your iPhone. Check out our guides for completing the jailbreak procedure and your iPhone will be customized in no time.

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    Author's own experience.