There are plenty of downsides to jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad. You’ll be behind on iOS updates and forced to jailbreak each new version of iOS you want to use. More importantly, leaked security documents show jailbroken iPhones are more vulnerable to attack.
Jailbreaking has become less useful over time, too. More and more features that once required jailbreaking on iOS have become built-in as Apple added background apps, widgets, and other configurability to iOS.
Keeping Up With the Jailbreaks is Hard
All jailbreaks rely on security holes in the iOS operating system used on iPhones and iPads. When an intrepid hacker finds a security hole, they can use it to escape the usual protected environment on iOS and take control over the entire operating system. This exploit is then packaged into a jailbreaking tool people can download and use on their own devices.
That jailbroken iPhone or iPad will remain jailbroken until it upgrades to the next version of iOS. When you upgrade to the next version, your device will no longer be jailbroken — and Apple will have closed the hole, making hackers search for another one before the new version of iOS can be jailbroken. This may take months. It’s becoming harder and taking longer for hackers to find holes in iOS as Apple tightens security.
This means that, if you jailbreak, you won’t be able to install new versions of iOS immediately when they’re released. You’ll have to wait for hackers to find a new security hole and jailbreak. After you do upgrade, you’ll have to run the latest jailbreak tool — and you’ll remain stuck on that version of iOS until the process repeats itself. There’s no way around it — this is just inconvenient and more work. It’s not just a one-time process.
Jailbroken iPhones Are *Much* More Vulnerable to Attack
“Hacking Team” is an Italian security firm that was recently hacked, itself. Hacking Team sells hacking tools to governments around the world, including repressive ones. Leaked documents from Hacking Team indicate that its tools can compromise jailbroken iPhones, but not iPhones that haven’t yet been jailbroken. This means that attacks exist against jailbroken iPhones, but not non-jailbroken iPhones. Sure, it’s possible that another attack might exist somewhere, but almost all malware for iPhones has been limited to jailbroken devices.
This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Those jailbroken iPhones were jailbroken using an exploit, and that exploit becomes public knowledge once the jailbreak tool is released. It wouldn’t be too hard for these iPhone exploits to be incorporated into a hacking tool and used to compromise iPhones for malicious purposes. That’s just speculation, of course — we’re not sure exactly how this is done.
Users who want to keep their jailbreak have to stay on the vulnerable version of iOS, while users who don’t care about jailbreaking are free to upgrade to the latest version of iOS with the security hole closed and no possibility of jailbreaking.
If you care about the security of your phone — and you should — avoid jailbreaks and stay on the latest version of Apple’s iOS.
Jailbreaks can potentially be unstable, too. The jailbreak itself may cause issues on your phone, or tweaks you install — which mess with iOS in ways normally not possible — may cause problems with your system and cause apps to crash or the phone to reboot more often.
You may need to restore your iPhone or iPad if you mess something up. That means more time spent messing with your phone or tablet.
And honestly, why even bother jailbreaking? Yes, we know that there are tons of tweaks out there and ways you can extend iOS in ways that Apple usually won’t let you. However, realistically, jailbreaking has become less and less compelling.
Features like widgets, the ability for apps to run in the background, sharing data between apps, and multiple apps on-screen on the iPad have already been added or are being added in iOS 9.
iOS has become a mature operating system, and jailbreaking is less and less necessary — just like rooting has become less necessary on Android phones.
Don’t jailbreak just to jailbreak or use a little tweak. Sure, you might want to do it if there’s something you’re really passionate about — but know what you’re getting into and realize how much you’ve giving up for it.
Maybe You Should Just Get an Android Phone If You Want to Tweak
If you desperately want a phone that lets you install apps from outside the app store and do powerful things that wouldn’t normally be possible, you may just want to skip iPhones and get an Android phone next time.
Many things that aren’t normally possible on an iPhone are possible on Android even without rooting. Rooting your Android phone or tablet is often easier than jailbreaking and iPhone or iPad, and you could even install a third-party custom ROM like CyanogenMod and have it stay rooted while also receiving the latest security updates.
No, we’re not saying that all iPhone users should look at an Android phone. We’re just saying that an Android phone is probably a better choice for tweaking enthusiasts than a jailbroken iPhone.
There are some solid arguments against bypassing an Android device’s security protections, too. Using a device with an unlocked bootloader means anyone who gets their hands on it can gain access to your device. It’s often a good idea to lock your bootloader again after installing a custom firmware of your choice.
Rooting your device means a malicious app breaking out of the security sandbox could run wild in a way it normally couldn’t. That’s why Android phones don’t come rooted.