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Apple cautions iPhone users about jailbreaking

Apple published a support article about the potential problems that users might run into with their jailbroken iPhone.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Apple published Thursday a support article cautioning users about jailbreaking the iPhone (as well as other Apple handheld audio devices).

Unlike the company's recent filing to U.S. Copyright Office that suggested that jailbreaking the iPhone might pose a national threat and be the cause of AT&T's unreliable service, the article states that "customers who have installed software that makes these modifications have encountered numerous problems in the operation of their hacked iPhone."

This means that if you get your iPhone jailbroken, for example, you will cause yourself, not others, problems. This is such a relief for me.

The problems that Apple mentioned include:

  • Device and application instability: Frequent and unexpected crashes of the device, crashes and freezes of built-in apps and third-party apps, and loss of data
  • Unreliable voice and data: Dropped calls, slow or unreliable data connections, and delayed or inaccurate location data
  • Disruption of services: Services such as Visual Voice mail, YouTube, Weather, Stocks as well as push-based third party applications have been disrupted or no longer work on the device
  • Compromised security: Security compromises have been introduced by the modifications that could allow hackers to steal personal information, damage the device, attack the wireless network, or introduce malicious software or viruses
  • Shortened battery life: The hacked software has caused an accelerated battery drain that shortens the operation of an iPhone or iPod Touch on a single battery charge
  • Inability to apply future software updates: Some unauthorized modifications have caused damage to the iPhone OS that is not repairable

Personally, I haven't seen much difference in performance as well as other issues with my iPhones (both the 3G and the 3GS) between when they are jailbroken and when they are not. I did notice that my iPhones offer a lot more features when they are jailbroken. For example, my 3G now can also record video, and I can use both phones to store my files (as external storage devices.)

However, if you install many third-party applications made for jailbroken phones, chances are you will run into some badly developed applications that can cause trouble.

Unlike unlocking, jailbreaking is just the modification of the operating system, which is software, and can be always be undone by restoring the device. Unlocking is when you want to have the code of the cell-connection baseband chip altered or fooled by an intermediary SIM card so that the iPhone works with other GSM cell services. (Unlocking, unfortunately, can also most of the time be undone when you upgrade the phone's firmware). While I haven't had any issue with this, either, Apple claims that opens the door (PDF) to many security issues.

Well, there wouldn't be any problems at all, really, if the devices were shipped without being locked down to a carrier or to Apple's App Store. People just want to use their devices the way they want, and they should be able to do so. This is why the Electronic Frontier Foundation has asked regulators (PDF) to basically legalize the jailbreaking practice of the iPhones.

If you own a jailbroken iPhone/IPod, please share your experience with it in the comment section.