Anybody who has been using smart phones in the past couple of years can not have missed the terms, jailbreaking, rooting or unlocking. They have become synonymous with the mobile today and people tend to throw these words around without really understanding the real meaning of them. The other day we overheard to people talking about rooting an iPhone and we could not restrain our laughter. Being people from the field of consumer electronics, we know what these things are, yet in the common man knowledge these are nothing but some complex processes that void the warranty of your device and something they usually want to stay away from. This should not be the case, they probably have no idea what all are they missing out by ignoring to root or jailbreak or unlock their phones. So what exactly is the fuss? Let us try and understand one at a time.
If you have used an iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad, you must have heard about the term jailbreaking. Strictly speaking jailbreaking is performed on closed source devices and is most famous for Apple products. Jailbreaking means removing the restrictions placed on a device by its manufacturers. Apple is notorious for wanting to control the entire environment and experience of the user on its products, but what if you want to go beyond. What if you want to change a few files of your iPhone to change how the lock screen looks like or change how the menu bar functions, basically doing anything that Apple does not want you to do. That is jailbreaking your device. Jailbreaking is a common thing today and with present day tools from the likes of Red snow and Green poison even Absinthe a fairly simple process of just a couple of button presses after connecting your device to the computer. Detailed guides of how to perform jailbreak are available on the internet but they all may differ based on the device you are using and the software version of your device. Depending on that only would it be possible to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad. Don let people tell you that Jailbreaking your device voids the warranty. Yes, technically it does but you can always restore your device to factory settings and jailbreak goes away, as good as it never existed.
However, not only Apple products you could jailbreak a Lumia device or a Surface RT tablet to change how the device looks or to flash some other firmware on the device. This however, is not a very common thing since the community support is not very active. Another useful feature of jailbreaking is the fact you can install third party applications which Apple and Windows does not allow on surface tablets, this is not required on Android since Android allows installing of third party applications out of the box. Jailbreaking does have potential to permanently bricking your device if you flash a wrong firmware version or delete some system files. So we advice you to not do anything unless you know well what you are doing. It would be better to get it done from somebody who has jailbroken their devices in the past.
Rooting is generally performed on Linux or Unix Based devices. The two most common platforms that could be rooted are Android and the now retired Symbian from Nokia. Rooting the device means nothing but getting the root permission for the device to access system files. This is very similar to being in the Administrator account on the Windows. Rooting has potential to do some crazy things such as revoking access to applications, changing the CPU speeds of your device or even tweaking the binary files on board. If done wrongly, these can be potentially be harmful to your phones and as a result no Android phones come with Root access and you have to root the device yourself.
It is also possible to remove the Android skins that devices ship with today such as HTC Sense on HTC devices and Touchwiz on Samsung phones and have the device in a Vanilla state. This again depends on the availability of the ROM which in turn is base don how active is the community support for your device. But rooting an Android phone can give you a completely new experience on your device making the device take advantage of the hardware on board. We highly recommend rooting your Android device. Rooting is different for every Android smart phone and you have to follow step by step guide of the specific phone model to be able to carry out the procedure. Rooting does void your warranty on the device and it is very easy to know if the device is rooted or not, so be careful with it in case you plan to take it back to the seller.
Unlocking is another term you hear very often these days. More now than ever because unlocking your devices has become an illegal process now. There are two kinds of unlocking of devices. The first being unlocking the boot loader while the second is carrier unlocking. So lets look in to both of them individually.
Carrier Unlocking: Most of the phones in the US or Europe come locked to a carrier with contract meaning that you can use the device with only the SIM card issued with the device. If you pop in the SIM of any other carrier then the device would not work and display an error that the phone is locked. Carriers usually allow you to unlock the device once you have served your stated contract when you outright own the device. However, if you can gather unlock code of the device you can do that and use the phone with any SIM. However, like we stated earlier that unlocking a phone on contract is illegal and can get you into trouble so beware if you do it. It is again a very common practice with iPhone users, who purchase locked devices from US and unlock it to use it anywhere globally.
Boot Loader Unlocking: Most of Android devices on the market come with locked boot loaders, this simply means that your phone would not boot any other OS than the version that the device has shipped with. If you want to create or change the ROM of your device which broadly is the OS version of the device, then you have to unlock the boot loader. Cyanogen Mods are the most common ROMs that people want to flash on to their devices, and as a result the community has requested lots of manufacturers to ship devices with unlocked boot loaders. Few OEMs have actually given into it an shipped phones with unlocked boot loaders. Even though a security exploit maybe important to unlock boot loaders, but Motorola and HTC both allow the devs to unlock the boot loader of their devices legally and easily by obtaining a code from their dev sites.
So that is everything you should know about rooting, jailbreaking and unlocking your smart phones. This is obviously a very basic guide and there is so much potential in these processes that it is mind blowing. Once you know what these processes are like we explained to you, you can look through step by step procedures of various devices. We at Blogtechnika also cover them from time to time. So stay tuned and write in to us in the section below or tweet in to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.