5 Reasons to Jailbreak Your iPhone - and 5 Reasons Not

Here are 5 reasons why you might want to and you might want to think twice.

Jailbreaking your iPhone has never been simpler with the latest release of JailbreakMe. Instead of the previous method of hacking into the iPhone through your PC, JailbreakMe.com exploits a flaw in the Safari Web browser's PDF viewer that grants instantaneous freedom from Apple's notoriously locked-down policies. Even before jailbreakme, jailbreaking iPhones was a popular practice with many benefits -- and many downsides. Here's are 5 reasons why you should consider jailbreaking your iPhone with jailbreakme -- and 5 reasons to avoid it.

Reasons to Jailbreak:

Access to T-Mobile GSM Network

The biggest problem with the iPhone is not the "death grip" that blocks your mobile signal -- it's AT&T. AT&T has exclusive rights over the iPhone until at least 2012, and with all of the network's problems -- mostly related to its tendency to drop calls -- many are justifiably wary of purchasing a phone tied to a problematic network. But the latest jailbreak gives users access to T-Mobile's GSM network, which works overseas and may be more robust in your area.

Cool Jailbroken iPhone Apps

Apple's legit App Store has many cool offerings, but jailbroken iPhones have a wide array of banned creative and quirky apps. Access to Cydia -- the hub of "illegitimate" apps -- is a huge motivation for jailbreaking your iPhone. There are many lists of great jailbreak apps to check out -- here are a few standouts:

  • MyWi: Turns phones into mobile hotspots
  • Intelliscreen: Puts e-mail and calendars on the home screen
  • MxTube: Download YouTube videos onto your phone for offline viewing
  • My3G: Allows for previously Wi-Fi-only processes to run on 3G, like HD YouTube videos
  • PDANet: Share Internet connection

Fast and Easy

One of the best parts about jailbreakme is how quick and easy it is to open up your iPhone. No need to download software onto your desktop or hunt for updates that dodge jailbreak-killing iTunes updates -- by using the Web browser, the whole process takes less than a few minutes over a Wi-Fi connection. Still, you can expect Apple to release a patch that will shut jailbreakme down at least temporarily.

Fully Reversible

If you're scared of the consequences of jailbreaking your iPhone -- or simply don't like the experience -- jailbreakme is fully reversible. According to jailbreakme.com, "If you ever decide that you want to remove your jailbreak, just connect your device to your computer, sync, and then press Restore in iTunes." Beware: if you upgrade past iOS version 4.0.1, there may be some unknown outcomes.

FaceTime Video Chat over 3G

FaceTime video chat is a nifty new feature of the iPhone 4, but it only works over a Wi-Fi network, which may be difficult to find in many situations. Jailbreaking the iPhone 4 allows for FaceTime video chat over a 3G connection. The results are less-than-pretty, but it's more convenient and won't be interrupted if you have a good signal or walk out of Wi-Fi range.

Reasons Not to Jailbreak:

Bricking

As with any tampering of your iPhone, you run the risk of experiencing "bricking." Bricking renders your phone unusable and requires a complete wipe and restore to make it functional again. Not a big deal given the quick fix, but it does serve as a deterrent.

Voiding Warranty

Though it's now legal to jailbreak your iPhone, doing so still voids your phone's warranty. Without a valid warranty, Apple will not cover any damages or other malfunctions related to your phone. So if you have the tendency to break Apple products or have buggy experiences with your device, you might want to reconsider.

Data Suck

Frequent or extended use of FaceTime over 3G -- or other data-hogging applications -- will drain the life out of AT&T's new bandwidth caps. Unless you've been grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, you may bump into your data cap sooner rather than later, and the consequences are costly: data usage above predetermined limits will incur overage charges that have the potential to double your monthly data fees.

Full of Bugs

Sometimes digging into your iPhone just doesn't work and "comex," the person responsible for jailbreakme, doesn't have a solution. One of the biggest complaints was that jailbreakme disabled FaceTime and MMS. But fear not -- loyalists devoted to the cause of jailbreaking sometimes come up with solutions themselves: the failure of FaceTime and MMS were fixed in a recent update to the jailbreak app, according to comex's Twitter feed.

Security Concerns

MacRumors discovered a flaw in the jailbreaking process that allows hackers to remotely plant malware onto a user's device. The flaw is located in the iOS PDF viewer. "The remote website presents a PDF that has a specifically crafted font embedded, and it is the processing of the embedded font that has the security issue," MacRumors reported. (They also add an interesting twist: Apple had fixed a similar issue in MacOS with a recent security update.) The idea of your iPhone being a hotbed for malicious interference has numerous negative penalties.

So what's heavier to you -- the pros or the cons? Are you planning to utilize jailbreakme to get the most out of your iPhone? Or are you content with the features the iPhone already brings to the table?

This story, "5 Reasons to Jailbreak Your iPhone - and 5 Reasons Not" was originally published by PCWorld .

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