Is jailbreaking an iPhone safe?

Anton P. | October 19, 2021

Jailbreaking iPhone means unchaining a device from the constraints set by its manufacturers. In brief, the software restrictions stop iOS users from performing specific device customizations. After setting their iOS free, users can alter iPhone’s behavior and enable settings that are unavailable otherwise.

For instance, one of the precise rules on iOS is that users cannot install apps from third-party sources. The only viable option is Apple’s App Store. After jailbreaking an iPhone, you can bypass this condition.

However, there is a reason Apple strictly regulates certain operating system changes. Typically, they can do more harm than good, and providers aim to get rid of the common temptations.

What is iOS jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking an iPhone will set you free from the limitations thrust on your iOS. As you might know, iOS is a closed-off environment. For instance, Apple sandboxes all apps, restricting them from accessing other applications. Overall, such fine-grained control fortifies the security and integrity of iOS by limiting the actions apps can perform.

Apple takes multiple preventative measures as if following the motto “better safe than sorry.” One such tactic is compelling users to install apps only through the iOS App Store. Unverified applications from random websites are not welcome.

However, the situation changes after jailbreaking an iPhone. Then, default restrictions no longer apply, and users can install apps from third-party sources.

In essence, jailbreaking an iPhone eliminates specific security mechanisms and gives users access to the root of the OS. And there are two sides to this coin. Some claim jailbreaking to be a beneficial procedure. Others emphasize the dangers related to breaking the default protection and isolation.

Android users will notice the correlation between rooting and jailbreaking. Both are procedures for granting users more control over their devices.

Reasons for jailbreaking your iOS

Multiple compelling arguments stand in favor of jailbreaking:

  • The strongest motivation for jailbreaking an iPhone is to expand the available features. For example, you get to install apps that can automate certain tasks. Also, the apps available outside the App Store might be the modded versions of popular apps. Say, you could get a YouTube app that lets you listen to music even when your screen is off.
  • Change the look of apps, homepages, icons, and add custom themes. You might be unsatisfied with the minimalistic aesthetic of iOS. However, before the release of iOS 14, even minor changes were only available after jailbreaking. Now, you have more control of the way your home screen looks. If the granted control is not enough, jailbreaking is still an option for that extra customization.

Dangers of jailbroken smartphones

  • Malware. The debate is intense when it comes to the security of jailbroken devices. Specific threats have been reported to target jailbroken iPhones. Thus, your device may become more susceptible to malware infections. However, others claim that it depends on the ways users modify their iPhones. By having the option to install unverified software, you might get a malicious program. Nevertheless, jailbreaking an iPhone means that infections have to jump through fewer loops to contaminate your device.
  • Inability to install software updates. Jailbroken iPhones could become incompatible with future updates. Thus, you won’t be able to install them, or they will make the iOS inoperable.
  • Increased battery usage. A jailbroken device will typically require more battery resources. As a result, the operation of the device on a single battery charge will be shorter.
  • Loss of warranty. One painful consequence of jailbreaking an iPhone is that you might lose your warranty. Apple could reject requests to fix certain issues if the device became inoperable after a jailbreak.
  • Crashes and unstable operation. Users might notice frequent crashes or otherwise unpredictable performance.
  • Services become unavailable. Particular changes to iOS could make your device incompatible with popular apps.

How do you jailbreak iOS?

We won’t go into much detail about jailbreaking iPhones. However, we will briefly run through this process. Additionally, we include a set of safety warnings and recommendations.

First of all, consider the following suggestions, supporting you in case things go south:

  • Create data backups. Unsuccessful jailbreaking could compromise data within your iOS. Thus, back up your data either via dedicated services or copy everything to a USB stick.
  • You might brick your device. Jailbreaking iPhones is easier for tech-savvy users. Thus, consider all the necessary steps and whether you understand them. Jailbreak devices only if you are confident about completing the task successfully. If you do not have a compelling argument for jailbreaking your iPhone, do not do it.

Here are conditions related to the removal of Apple-imposed limitations on iOS:

  • Your iPhone should run the latest iOS version. You might be able to jailbreak devices with older operating systems. However, it all depends on the compatibility of jailbreaking software.
  • Specific techniques will require you to use your computer (Mac or Windows) first. For instance, you might need to set up AltStore on it. Later, you will need to sync your computer with your iPhone.
  • Once you install the app used to jailbreak, it might take several reboots to conclude the process. However, once it’s done, your iOS will no longer have the default software restrictions. You will be able to use Cydia, a third-party application installer for jailbroken iPhones.

One small note: jailbreaking iPhones can go differently depending on the operating system. Thus, the steps above are not universally applicable. They are here to give you a general idea of how jailbreaking iPhones works.

Should you jailbreak your iOS?

Jailbreaking iPhones can have benefits to people with a clear-cut goal. For instance, you might need specific customizations unavailable by default. If you are confident that the modifications you want won’t cause any damage, you are welcome to do it.

Jailbreaking is also legal, although Apple discourages users from it. The main criteria are that you should know the possible downsides of having your iOS jailbroken. You might lose your warranty and the ability to install future updates. Also, installing apps from unverified sources could make it easier to stumble upon a dangerous tool.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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