Jailbreaking an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad allows a user to install apps from places other than the Apple app store. Unlocking an iPhone enables it to be used with any wireless carrier by removing the "lock" that forces it to be used only with the carrier that originally sold the phone.

Comparison chart

Jailbreak versus Unlock comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartJailbreakUnlock
Used For Mobile devices, tablets Moble devices, tablets
Purpose Accessing third-party apps especially those that are not available in Apple’s store (Appstore) Enabling switching carriers so that it becomes compatible with multiple networks
"Pwnapple" icon used by redsn0w, PwnageTool and other PWN tools for jailbreaking an iOS device
"Pwnapple" icon used by redsn0w, PwnageTool and other PWN tools for jailbreaking an iOS device

What it means


Apple tightly controls the ecosystem of apps that run on the hundreds of millions of iOS devices sold. Owners of iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch) can only install apps from Apple's app store. Although there are now hundreds of thousands of apps in Apple's app store, some critics have said this control over the device even after it has been sold hurts innovation and the consumer. However, Apple maintains that by restricting access to authorized apps only, it can ensure a measure of quality control and also protect users from their devices being hacked.

Jailbreaking is the process of removing these limitations imposed by Apple on these iOS devices it sells. It enables you to run “unauthorized” software that isn’t approved by Apple.


Several wireless carriers around the world, but most commonly in the United States, subsidize the cost of a new iPhone to consumers by binding them to a contract to use the services of the carrier, usually for 2 years. This allows a new phone to be purchased for only $200 instead of its regular "no-contract" retail price of about $650.

These iPhones are "locked" to only work on the telecom network of that specific wireless carrier. Unlocking is the process of removing this restriction and freeing up the phone to be used with any wireless network. Depending upon the model of the iPhone, there may be restrictions even after unlocking because phones that support only CDMA cannot be used on a GSM network. Unlocking allows the consumer to use a different wireless service without being forced to change her phone.

The Process

How to Jailbreak an iPhone or other iOS Device

Free desktop-based jailbreaking tools are easily available on the Internet. These can be used legally; however in certain cases you may lose the warranty on the product. Hackers such as @planetbeing, pod2g and [1] are well-known for their Jailbreaks.

Here's a list and history of popular jailbreaking software:

The following video demonstrates how to jailbreak a few Apple products:

How to Unlock an iPhone

One way to unlock the phone is to use software like iPhonelox but the preferred way is to work with your wireless carrier to unlock the phone "officially". You can do it yourself by going through the tutorials and community support forums available for the particular phone or network provider on the Internet.

If unlocking using software, the iPhone will have to jailbroken first to be able to install the unlocking software. Some providers ask you to pay to unlock your phone but they are not trustworthy so think twice before sending them your money.

When working with your wireless carrier to unlock your phone, there may be some eligibility requirements. For example, AT&T requires that the phone should not be under the binding contract. Sprint customers can request unlocking of their iPhones but only for international travel. Verizon sells iPhone 5 with the SIM slot unlocked by default.

Resources to help unlock iPhones


Even after unlocking, the networks that a phone works on depends upon what networks are supported by the hardware. iPhone 5 supports both CDMA and GSM. Sprint and Verizon iPhones use CDMA; T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM. Most countries in the U.S. and Europe have GSM networks. iPhone 5 if sold for Sprint has its GSM SIM card slot locked even though Sprint does not use it. But when sold for Verizon, iPhone 5 has its SIM card unlocked by default. This is a good reason to choose Verizon over Sprint if unlocking is important to you. However, Verizon iPhones cannot use AT&T's faster LTE network. See iPhone LTE support for more info.


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