Why jailbreak?

Many pixels have been spilled over this question.

Before the iPhone 3G the answer was much more obvious:  to greatly extend the functionality of your computer-like phone.  Apple had not allowed 3rd party developers to make native software for the phone at all.  Jailbreaking was the only way in.

With the iPhone 3G, Apple has provided a way for developers to do this and for iPhone owners to easily obtain software through the App Store.  So why still jailbreak?  Here are my chief reasons:

Freedom to use the technology to its potential

Apple is keeping too tight a lid on what you can do with your powerful and expensive phone.  I want flexibility and maximum value.  Apple has been sued for its locking practices.

Use my iPhone as a modem for my laptop

I want to be able to use my cell phone as a modem for my laptop when Wi-Fi is not available or for sale (such as airports, etc).  This is called “tethering” and Apple and AT&T did not allow i until late 2010, and then started charging a ridiculous $20 monthly premium on top of a data plan.  But I am paying $360 per year for an unlimited data plan and so I expect to actually get unlimited data.

Swap out SIM cards when traveling

I travel outside of the US and want to be able to use a pre-paid SIM card in the country I am in temporarily.  To do this the phone must be unlocked.  Unlocking a phone while in a contract can only be achieved after jailbreaking. Software unlocks such as ultrasn0w are available through Cydia.

Troubleshoot my iPhone without having to wipe it clean

As good as the iPhone is, there are always bugs.  If something goes wrong, it is often suggested by Apple support to just wipe the iPhone clean and restore from backup.  This is a lengthy process involving restoring everything, re-synching all media, and given the buggy way Apple’s backup process works, quite possibly having to re-enter many or all settings.  Why should I do this if I can just fix some corrupted permissions on a file?

Read and view my content off-line

Apple has thus far provided no standard way to get files onto the iPhone.  Some developers have created their own methods.  But that has made it an ugly free for all. Some apps use webdav, others bonjour, others java servers. Some apps have no supported way at all to get content onto the phone unless you jailbreak it.  Even if apps provide their own internal servers etc, it’s faster to just transfer files directly from a single SFTP client. And that app doesn’t even have to be running.

Evaluate App Store applications

The App Store is convenient and the software sold on it is for the most part reasonably priced.  However, there are many competitors already and mixed reviews.  There are no demos available and refunds are hard to obtain.  I want to be able to evaluate applications on my phone before I buy them – which I will if they are 100% solid and of genuine use to me.

Ready to continue?

Please read: Things I wish I knew before jailbreaking…

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