Difference Wiki

Jailbreaking vs. Unlocking iPhone: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
Jailbreaking allows customization beyond Apple's restrictions; unlocking iPhone enables use with any cellular network.

Key Differences

Jailbreaking an iPhone refers to the process of removing the software restrictions imposed by Apple on its iOS operating system. This action grants users root access, enabling them to customize their device extensively. On the contrary, unlocking an iPhone is a different procedure that allows the phone to be used with any cellular network, removing the lock that ties it to a specific carrier.
The purpose of jailbreaking is mainly to gain more control over the device. By doing so, users can install third-party apps not available on the App Store, apply custom themes, and make other system-level tweaks. Unlocking iPhone, however, serves the purpose of providing flexibility in choosing a mobile carrier, especially useful for those who travel internationally and wish to use local SIM cards.
It's crucial to note that while both processes affect the iPhone's functionality, they operate on different levels. Jailbreaking is about software modification, enabling a deeper level of personalization. Unlocking iPhone deals with the device's cellular hardware, ensuring compatibility with different network providers.
While jailbreaking offers a range of customization, it can void the iPhone's warranty and might expose the device to security vulnerabilities. Unlocking iPhone, when done unofficially, can also void the warranty, but its primary consequence is the freedom to switch cellular services. Both actions have their benefits and risks, and users must make informed decisions.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Remove software restrictions from iOS.
Use iPhone with any cellular network.

Modification Level

Cellular hardware


Install third-party apps, customize device.
Switch mobile carriers, use local SIMs abroad.

Potential Risks

Void warranty, security vulnerabilities.
Void warranty, potential incompatibility.

End Result

Enhanced device control and customization.
Cellular carrier flexibility.

Jailbreaking and Unlocking iPhone Definitions


Modifying the iPhone to accept non-App Store installations.
Jailbreaking let Lucy use a specific app banned from the official store.

Unlocking iPhone

Bypassing the cellular lock set by the original provider.
Unlocking his iPhone, Mark saved on roaming charges during his trip.


Removing software restrictions on iOS devices.
After jailbreaking his iPhone, John installed custom themes.

Unlocking iPhone

Enabling iPhone to work with any mobile carrier.
After unlocking her iPhone, Jane used a European SIM while traveling.


Gaining root access to an iPhone's operating system.
Jailbreaking allowed Sarah to use apps not available on the App Store.

Unlocking iPhone

Removing the carrier-specific restriction on an iPhone.
Unlocking the iPhone gave Ryan the flexibility to change carriers.


Unlocking deeper customizations of iOS.
Through jailbreaking, Emma achieved a unique look for her device.

Unlocking iPhone

Making the iPhone compatible with multiple networks.
By unlocking the iPhone, Alex was no longer tied to a single service provider.


Bypassing Apple's imposed software limitations.
With jailbreaking, Mike tweaked his iPhone's interface to his liking.

Unlocking iPhone

Providing cellular freedom to the iPhone user.
Thanks to unlocking her iPhone, Mia switched to a more affordable plan.


Infl of jailbreak


What does unlocking an iPhone mean?

Unlocking an iPhone allows it to be used with any cellular network.

Is jailbreaking legal?

The legality of jailbreaking varies by country and can change over time.

What is jailbreaking an iPhone?

Jailbreaking is removing software restrictions from Apple's iOS.

Why might someone choose to jailbreak?

To gain more control, customization, or access to certain apps.

Can jailbreaking give access to all apps?

Jailbreaking can allow access to third-party apps not on the App Store, but not all apps.

Does unlocking an iPhone affect its software?

No, unlocking iPhone primarily deals with cellular hardware, not software.

Can I undo unlocking my iPhone?

Yes, you can re-lock or restore your iPhone to its original state.

Is jailbreaking reversible?

Yes, restoring the iPhone using iTunes can remove the jailbreak.

Does jailbreaking give root access?

Yes, it provides root access to the iPhone's operating system.

Does jailbreaking void my iPhone's warranty?

Yes, jailbreaking typically voids the Apple warranty.

Can Apple detect a jailbroken device?

Yes, Apple can often detect if a device has been jailbroken.

How do I know if my iPhone is locked or unlocked?

Trying a SIM card from a different carrier can determine the lock status.

Can jailbreaking improve iPhone performance?

Some users find performance benefits, but it varies by the tweaks applied.

Can every iPhone be unlocked?

Most can, but it depends on the carrier's policy and the iPhone's status.

Do unlocking services harm the iPhone?

Reputable services should not harm the device, but always proceed with caution.

Are there risks to unlocking an iPhone?

Unofficial unlocking can void warranties and potentially cause network issues.

Is unlocking an iPhone permanent?

It can be, but software updates or factory resets might re-lock it.

Are jailbroken iPhones less secure?

Jailbreaking can expose iPhones to vulnerabilities not present in unmodified ones.

Why unlock an iPhone?

To use it with any mobile carrier, especially useful for international travel.

Can unlocking help with international travel?

Yes, unlocking allows use of local SIM cards abroad, potentially saving on roaming.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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