Unlocking Cell Phones Vs JailBreaking

Jailbreaking and unlocking cell phones are the latest buzz words among the tech-savvy crowd, but for the rest of us regular folks, it can be a little confusing to tell the difference.

Although these terms may sound illegal and risky, it’s not what you think. To let you back in the loop, we’ve asked the experts to give us the ins and outs of jailbreaking and unlocking.

What is Unlocking?

Many cell phones are exclusive to a single carrier or network. If you find a more affordable network you want to switch to, chances are likely that you’ll have to buy an entirely new phone.

However, an unlocked phone is compatible with multiple networks, so you can pick and choose your network without sacrificing the quality of your phone.

The Good

If you’re traveling abroad and don’t want to get charged for the roaming fees, unlocking your cell phone will enable you to purchase cheaper local pay-as-you-go Sim cards. You’ll be able to send and receive calls (under a different number) while still using your old phone.

Unlocking cell phones also gives you a greater resell price on eBay, since consumers worldwide are more interested phone compatible with numerous networks rather than being locked into a single carrier.

The Bad

Unlocking cell phones is completely legal and can be easily reverted back to its locked state once you’re done with it. However, it can also mess with your phone’s settings and results in some annoying quirks depending on the software you use. In order to unlock your phone, you have to jailbreak it first (see below), which can interfere with your phone’s warranty.

How do I Unlock My Phone?

The simplest way to unlock iphone 4 (or any other phone) is to use a soft unlock software like iPhonelox to do it for you. It takes only a few minutes and costs less than $20 for the program.

On the other hand, if you’re the hands-on type of person, simply google unlocking cell phones tutorials and you can do it yourself.

What is Jailbreaking?

Many smartphones, tablets, and other consoles include a Digital Rights Management (DRM) layer of code in their software. This DRM is there for security purposes and can limit the software that you can run on your phone. Jailbreaking bypasses these DRM restrictions, enabling you to run “unauthorized” software that isn’t approved by Apple.

The Good

If you’ve ever seen someone with 5 icons instead of 4 on their iPhone, or perhaps admired the classic console emulator on an iPad, chances are likely that they’ve broken into their phone. Exclusive third-party apps like these can’t be accessed through the regular app store, which is why jailbreaking has such a huge appeal to consumers.

It’s legal and allows you to explore services and programs that ordinary phones cannot.

The Bad

Unfortunately, modifying your phone conflicts with your warranty. If a third-party app crashes your phone, then don’t expect any help from Apple. Additionally, Jailbreaking can leave your phone vulnerable to hacking and malicious attacks, and one user even created an iPhone worm that targets jailbroken phones.

How Do I Jailbreak My Phone?

Jailbreaking your phone takes a desktop or OS X application that can connect to your phone and gain access to the software. There are multiple jailbreaking tutorials available online.


In short, unlocking your phone enables you to switch between carriers and jailbreaking gives you access to third-party apps. Both have their pros and cons, and both techniques are useful when done correctly.

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