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Unlocking, Jailbreaking, and Rooting: What You Need to Know


You may have heard at least one of these mobile terms before: jailbreaking, rooting, and unlocking. They're often used interchangeably, since all three are device hacks that free your phone (or tablet) to do more things than you normally could with it. However, unlocking isn't the same as jailbreaking or rooting. Here's a basic introduction to these methods and the reasons why you might want to jailbreak/root and unlock your mobile device.

Jailbreaking vs. Rooting and Unlocking

Jailbreaking, rooting, and unlocking are all terms used to describe freeing your phone from its limitations, but they don't necessarily mean the same thing. Both jailbreaking and rooting are methods to give you unrestricted access to your tablet or mobile device's entire file system., while unlocking is more about being able to use your phone on different networks.

The difference between jailbreaking and rooting is jailbreaks refer to Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), while rooting refers to Android smartphones and tablets. It's basically the same thing, but different terms for the mobile operating systems.

For Android devices, you can think of a tree metaphor: rooting gets you to the bottom or root of your system. For iOS devices, you can think of the "jailed garden" metaphor often used when talking about Apple products: jailbreaking gets you past Apple's restrictions on your device.





Definition: Jailbreaking is a device hack that provides users with unrestricted access to the entire file system of their mobile devices.


Why Jailbreak or Root your device?

Users commonly jailbreak their iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads to get around the limitations imposed by the wireless carriers (e.g., AT&T) and manufacturer (e.g., Apple). A jailbroken device will allow you to run third party programs and other code, and to do things like tether your phone or use it as a wi-fi hotspot for Internet access on your laptop or other devices. For Android devices, jailbreaking is commonly referred to as rooting.

By rooting or jailbreaking your mobile device, you have greater control over it. After a jailbreak or root, for example, you can install apps blocked in the App Store or Google Play, such as tethering apps to turn your phone into a modem for your computer. Jailbreaking and rooting get you access to a greater range of third-party apps and tools, e.g., with Cydia, an alternate apps manager for iOS devices.

Other reasons to jailbreak or root include: upgrading your mobile operating system version before it's available through an over-the-air-update, loading a custom ROM (Read Only Memory) on your phone (replacing the preloaded OS and apps on the phone with a customized one), and completely changing the overall look of the device with custom themes/ROMs. Rooted and jailbroken devices also often have better performance and battery life.

Pros and Cons of rooting and jailbreaking: There are some risks involved with jailbreaking and rooting. For one thing, these technically void your warranty, so if something's wrong with your phone or tablet after you jailbreak or root it, the manufacturer won't honor the warranty to fix it. But you can restore the warrenty by just performing a full factory restore in iTunes. Another issue is that your device can be more vulnerable to malicious apps and you can possibly harm your device during the rooting or jailbreaking process. The solutions to those two issues is to be very careful about what you install on your phone (something you should be doing anyway) and only use rooting and jailbreaking methods that have been thoroughly tested for your device and operating system.



- Prepared by SMS Team