When the original iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, the cat-and-mouse game between hackers and Apple had begun. Before the highly-anticipated launch, Apple had already announced on June 11 that year, that the iPhone will support only web-based applications, coupled with the fact that it will remain tethered exclusively to the AT&T network. These announcements were received with much resentment by the excited user community, since that meant slaughtering the true potential of Apple’s wonder-child. And hence the game started.
Editor’s Note: If you are looking for jailbreaking and unlocking guides, scroll to the bottom of this page. We will keep updating this page when new tools and methods for unlocking and jailbreaking iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are released.
Just four days after the launch of the iPhone 2G, on July 3, 2007, DVD Jon bypassed the official activation procedure (through iTunes) and made the instructions publically available via the internet. Following suit, on July 10, the much-revered iPhone Dev-Team developed a partial unlock for the iPhone, allowing use of non-iPhone AT&T SIM cards with the device. Things began progressing.
On July 30, 2007, the first ever native, third party app was born; MobileTerminal, a terminal emulator application for the iPhone, had said hello to the world.
The month of August that year saw a rapid increase in hacking attempts, with British hackers especially keen on making the device work with non-AT&T SIMs, but the true breakthrough came on Aug. 24, when George Hotz (geohot) developed the first complete, hardware-based hack and unlock for his iPhone, and documented the procedure on his blog. This process got translated to many software-based unlocks, and we saw solutions like iPhoneSimFree, iUnlock, and AnySim (GUI based) surfacing rapidly, some free, some paid. Hackers eventually released a permanent jailbreaking tool for iPhone OS 1.0
With the release of firmware 1.1.1, Apple rendered many jailbroken devices useless. The iPod Touch 1st generation had also been released, and since it used the same firmware as the iPhone, it, too, was jailbroken using the same techniques.
On July 11, 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G with firmware 2.0. July 20, 2008, the infamous Dev-Team released the great Pwnage tool (Mac only), offering the jailbreak in a GUI. The hacking game continued with iPod Touch 2G, and March 11, 2009 saw the release of redsn0w 0.1 (welcome Windows) from the Dev-Team, offering tethered jailbreak for iPod Touch 2G as well.
What had now begun was a chase for loopholes in Apple’s OS between the jailbreakers and Apple’s greatest minds. Hackers found and exploited loops, and Apple covered them up in their next OS release. In March 2009, Apple announced OS 3.0 for iPhones and iPod Touches, and three months later the Dev-Team released PwnageTool 3.0 and redsn0w 0.7.2, allowing jailbreak of both iPhone 2G and 3G, as well as iPod Touch running the new OS.
June through September 2009, Apple released not only the iPhone 3GS, but also the iPod Touch 3G and 2G MC models. The era also saw the OS going to version 3.1 (for which Dev-Team came up with Pwnage 3.1.3) and then to 3.1.2, for which the Dev-Team had no solution, and jailbreak community was left in the dark. All in all, it was ‘just another brick in the wall.’
On October 11, 2009, geohot again surfaced, ‘making it rain’ with his blackra1n tool, allowing jailbreak of all iPhones and iPod Touches upto 3GS and 3G, respectively, running firmware 3.1.2, although 3GS and iTouch 3G were tethered. Nov. 2, geohot updated blackra1n to RC3, adding the ability to tethered jailbreak iPod Touch 3G 8GB model, one that was using the latest bootrom. Hotz also released blacksn0w unlock for iPhone 3G and 3GS, capable of handling baseband 5.11.07.
At this point, it was expected that Apple would not release any new firmware update until the iPhone 4G, running OS 4.0, or maybe a new OS 3.2 would surface, at maximum. However, Feb. 2, 2010, out of the blue came firmware 3.1.3 upgrade, which not only closed the loophole used by blackra1n or redsn0w, but also upgraded the baseband to 05.12.01, which was unlockable by any means. Much speculation says that this release was intended only to force the jailbreak community to expose further known flaws in the OS, so that they can be patched before 4.0. However, if that was Apple’s intention, they failed miserably, since all the main players in jailbreak community refused to release any tool for this useless upgrade, and advised users to stick with 3.1.2.
Following is a chart from Wikipedia showing how hacks and new devices went head to head.
Good signs began showing just one week after this release, when @sherif_hashem found the first hole in the new baseband, which he handed over to the dev-team. Shortly after, @geohot and @musclenerd too, claimed to have found two working loopholes. However, no release was announced to make sure Apple doesn’t get what it aimed for with this 3.1.3 OS. Dev-Team tweaked the pwnage tool and redsn0w to make them capable of jailbreaking iPhone and iPod Touch on 3.1.3, but 3GS and 3G Touch were still left without solutions. A new player also entered the jailbreak game, iH8sn0w, with his sn0wbreeze tool, which allowed iPhone (all) and iPod Touch (1G and 2G only) to be jailbroken with 3.1.3, but with older bootroms only. 3GS was still tethered.
In the current scenario, situations have changed from what they were when the original iPhone was first launched. The world saw the first hack coming right after four days of launch, and it was at the time when the understanding of the OS was not very thorough. Today, not only does the hacking community better understand this Apple’s marvel of engineering, but also has three working loopholes already in their pocket. The number of players have also increased; Dev-Team, GeoHot, iH8sn0w are among the key players. Then there is the Chronic Dev Team, who are reportedly working on a new jailbreak tool, Greenpois0n, which is being held back only to see the release of iPhone 4G and the new OS 4.0, and utilize the flaw in Apple’s software for this major release.
Looming ahead is the anticipated launch of iPad, for which it has already been announced by Apple that it will not allow being tethered. Hence, jailbreaking the iPad has already become a priority for hackers.
The question now stands at this: what will Apple do? Will there be an OS 3.2 release? Will they directly go for iPhone and iPod Touch 4G, with OS 4.0? And when? How will the jailbreakers tackle this? Will they release a jailbreak/unlock if Apple goes for iPhone OS 3.2, or will they sit this one out as well? And more importantly, who will be the first to release the jailbreak/unlock for both iPhone 4G and iPad? Will it be the Dev-Team? GeoHot? iH8sn0w? Chronic Dev Team? Or some new player? Only time will tell.
Stay with us as we continue to explore new developments on this front. Our updates will continue to follow.
Update: The iPhone OS 4.0 beta has been jailbroken. We will keep you updated when it is released.
Update 2: Jailbreak for iPhone 3G OS 4.0 (beta 1) is out for developers. At this moment it is Mac only. Grab it here.
Update 3: The iDevices operating system will now be called iOS 4 and the devices will be named as iOS Devices. Follow the latest updates here.
Update 4: If you are looking to Unlock iPhone after upgrading to iOS 4, have patience. We will update this page as soon as it is out. Also note that iOS 4 only connects with iTunes 8.2.
Update 5: Jailbreak for iPhone 3G running iOS 4 GM is out, check the full step-by-step guide here.
Update 6: Unlock for both iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS running iOS 4 is out.
Update 8: The unlock for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS running iOS 4 on all basebands, including 04.26.08, 05.11.07, 05.12.01, and 05.13.04 is out. Check out the guide here.
Update 9: Find out if your iPhone 3GS has a new bootrom or old bootrom with this simple tool iDetector.
Update 10: Looking to downgrade your iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS? Follow this guide.