Apple keeps a tight lock on its devices, and only allows software it approves onto the device. Hackers found a way to install unauthorized software on the iPhone through a process called “jailbreaking.” For iPhone 3GS users, this process requires a program called “redsn0w” and the iPad baseband.
The baseband of the iPhone is the cellular modem that powers the communications and network functions (both voice and data) of the device. It is also responsible for “locking” the device to a specific carrier. iOS device jailbreaks and unlocks modify the baseband because the software powering the baseband contains the code that controls how and where the iPhone connects.
RedSn0w is a jailbreaking utility for the iPhone and iPad touch. At the time of publication, the app allowed for untethered jailbreaks of devices through iOS5 and select devices on iOS 6. The term “untethered” means that jailbreaking needs to be done once and rebooting the device will not erase the jailbreak. iOS 6 in some cases will require a “tethered” jailbreak; this means each time the device reboots it must be connected to a computer to maintain the jailbreak.
The iPad baseband has a special significance in jailbreaking because it prevents some issues experienced by some iPhone users. The original unlocks for the iPhone 3GS involved an upgrade to the baseband, but rendered all GPS functions inoperative and would require custom iOS upgrade files. Hackers discovered that downgrading the iPhone 3GS baseband to the baseband provided with the iPad would preserve GPS functions and allow unlocked phones to upgrade using Apple’s stock upgrade files provided through iTunes.
Installing the iPad baseband through redsn0w as an unlocking method only works with the iPhone 3GS. It is not possible to use this method for newer models, the iPhone Dev Team says. Apple also frowns on the process of jailbreaking, and says that the process is a violation of its End User License Agreement (EULA). The company will void the warranty to the device and may refuse service to devices that are jailbroken.
- OSXDaily: What is iPhone Baseband?
- iDownloadBlog: Untethered Jailbreak vs. Tethered Jailbreak vs. SemiTethered Jailbreak — What’s the Difference?
- iPhone Dev Team: 0615 Fun
- Apple: Unauthorized Modification of iOS Can Cause Security Vulnerabilities, Instability, Shortened Battery Life, and Other Issues
- Photo Credit Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images News/Getty Images