Apple’s iPhone 4 is one of the hottest smartphones on the market these days, along with the iPad and iPod devices. However, with some of the severe limitations Apple has in place, such as no Adobe Flash compatibility and lack of compatibility with other third party applications, some users have taken to “jailbreaking” their iPhone or other iOS devices, which allows them to do just about anything they want to it or with it.
Technically speaking, jailbreaking an iPhone, otherwise known as iOS jailbreaking, means the person doing so is hacking into the device’s operating system, which allows that user to access the root directory of the iPhone, iPad and iPod. Essentially, any device that uses the Apple iOS can be jailbroken and this process certainly has a major advantage, but it also has a major drawback as well.
Free At Last!
Yes, jailbreaking an iPhone or jailbreaking the iOS means that users can download and install any application they want to and use it on their iPhone. This includes all unsigned applications developed by third parties. This is typically the one and only reason to jailbreak the iOS or iPhone. While this jailbreaking has gone on ever since Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, the current terms of service put forth by Apple have closed the loophole that once allowed developers to develop applications then port them to the iPhone by converting the code used to develop the apps. However, this loophole, now closed, has made it even more difficult for these third party developers to make apps for the iPhone.
Because of the change in section 3.3.1 of the Apple iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, Apple now requires that anything used on the iPhone to be developed in Objective C, C# and a few others, developers who program using other types of coding must now learn new languages or drop the development of apps for the iPhone. Considering the lucrativeness and moneymaking machines that most iPhone or iOS apps usually become, dropping them to develop on another platform is simply not an option for many developers.
Are There Consequences?
Of course there are! There are consequences to every action a person takes. However, the consequences to jailbreaking the iOS vary with each situation. Additionally, they feel different to different people and the outcome depends on the person who did the jailbreaking.
Warranty Forfeitureis probably the most convincing reason not to jailbreak an iPhone or iOS.Jailbreaking an iPhone’s OS has a single and universal consequence; Jailbreaking your iPhone or iOS voids the warranty. This means that even if your iPhone is only a week old, if you jailbroke it the night you celebrated getting the phone because you were a little tipsy, or if you do not even remember doing it-even if you personally did not do it-if something goes wrong with it, then Apple does not care. You are stuck paying for a brand new phone completely out of pocket, even if the problem is a manufacturers defect, the cost to replace or fix the jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod is yours and yours alone.
The reason behind this stance is that Apple’s warranties explicitly state that any tampering with the OS or the hardware immediately voids the warranty, period. For the iPhone 4, it is stated in section “(g)” that the warranty is voided completely if: “a product or part that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple”; which implies jailbreaking.
Additionally, the Apple Software License Agreement TOS state that users cannot, “…decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, attempt to derive the source code of, decrypt, modify…” and if they do, the complete license agreement is broken and warranty voided. Technically speaking, Apple could, in fact, prosecute users who jailbreak their phones, because they are modifying the operating system; however, as far as I understand, there have been no reported cases of this happening. Do you want to take that chance?
This is because when an iPhone or other iOS is jailbroken, access to the root directories can cause the phone’s software or hardware to malfunction and become unstable. When a jailbroken phone is used, there is no guarantee it will perform up to the high standards Apple sets for their devices. Additionally, if the person jailbreaking the phone does something wrong while attempting to jailbreak it, then it is entirely possible that the user will never see the benefit of using a jailbroken phone because there is no guarantee that it will start or run again after doing so. Can you afford another iPhone at those prices if something like this happens?
While gaining the ability to download and use any application a user dang well pleases is a great reason to want to jailbreak an iPhone or iOS, one must ask themselves, is it worth the possible trouble? Is one simple reason in favor of jailbreaking the iOS devices, really worth the definite voided warranty and loss of iPhone OS reliability?
Even though the United States Library of Congress recently sided with those who believe in jailbreaking an iOS, anyone owning an iPhone, iPad or iPod should seriously consider whether or not jailbreaking their device would be worth the certainty of the consequences put forth in the License Agreement and TOS. If downloading any application or using Adobe’s Flash is worth so much and so important, why did you buy an iPhone in the first place?
References & Resources
Apple iPhone 4 Warranty Terms
Apple: Hardware & Software License Agreement-iPhone 4
Wikipedia: List of iOS Jailbreak Dates and Devices
EFF: iPhone Developer Program License Agreement
Todd Shields and Adam Satariano, “‘Jailbreaking’ of IPhones to Add Apps Backed by U.S.,” Bloomberg