Author: BigBoss  //  Category: General, Jailbreak

Here is some general terminology you may hear in reference to iPhone hacking. People often confuse these terms so I will attempt to help clarify them:

Unlocking vs Jailbreaking – Jailbreaking is the process of opening the phone up for installation of 3rd party apps. Unlocking is the process of allowing non-approved SIM cards to be used on your phone. If you have an approved provider, you only need to jailbreak your phone, not unlock your phone.

Activate – The iPhone has two levels of SIM card protection. The first is in the baseband and requires some form of unlock to bypass. The second is in the operating system and requires either iTunes or a hacked lockdownd (hactivation) in order to bypass. Most jailbreak methods will also hacktivate your phone for you to bypass activation. When the phone comes from Apple, it has on it only the option to slide for emergency call. Activating your phone will allow you to see the icons on the home screen. Activation is required for any form of unlocking.

Hacktivate - Activation of the iPhone via patching rather than via iTunes.

Baseband - The baseband is a subsystem on the phone that handles phone line communication. Modifying this subsystem is how unlocks are achieved. These are updated in iTunes with new firmware versions. iTunes will not downgrade your baseband. Baseband versions are like 4.01.13_G (1.1.1) 4.03.13_G (1.1.3). Currently, an iTunes restore will not modify your baseband unless your baseband is erased or downgraded prior to the restore.

Bootloader - The bootloader is the first thing that runs on the phone. The bootloader is not upgraded by iTunes (yet). Phones have the same bootloader that they came with. There are two shipping bootloaders, 3.9 and 4.6 (out of box 1.1.2 and newer). The bootloader can be downgraded using hacking methods. It is risky downgrading your bootloader because of something goes wrong, you cannot repair it (at the time of this writing).

Firmware – The firmware is the operating system installed on your phone. The firmware versions include 1.0.2, 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, 1.1.4. All jailbreaking only affects the firmware, not the bootloader or baseband. This is why restoring will undo a jailbreak but will not affect an unlock.

Restore / Upgrade – iTunes provides two options to change the firmware on your phone. Restore and upgrade. Restore is a full erase and reprogramming of your device. This will result in a factory fresh device. All songs and contacts are wiped out. Upgrade will only wipe out the smaller disk partition leaving all your songs and settings intact. Upgrade is only useful if you are trying to go from one version to the next version of firmware. It will not solve any problems on your phone unless they are naturally solved by the new firmware. I generally recommend using restore in all cases .

TurboSIM, Hypercard, X-Sim, StealthSIM – These devices tricked the phone’s baseband into thinking that an authorized SIM card was inserted. In effect, the phone appeared unlocked. These devices no longer work on newer phones.

DFU Mode vs Restore mode – DFU (device firmware upgrade) mode is a special mode that bypasses the operating system and lets you upgrade the device. When in DFU mode, the phone will have no display on the screen. Restore mode is more common. In this mode you can also restore or upgrade your device, but it is not as drastic as DFU mode. Many restore problems can be solved by using DFU mode https://andorrafarm.com.

BigBoss Authors: Mark Bruce & Kory Lee

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55 Responses to “Terminology”

  1. asa Says:

    HI BB,

    My 2g is unlocked and jailbroken. However, have been thinking about jailbreaking my 3g ( no need for unlock since I bought unlocked version from Hong Kong). I jailbroken my friends and it seems to make them run just a bit slower. Any reason why this would happen anything I should avoid?


  2. New Craigslist iPhone! But... Says:

    [...] Here is a terminology I found in the Big Boss Website about the differences between jaibreaking and unlocking. Terminology | iPhone News, Help and Guides [...]

  3. Coolman Says:

    Good information I found here.. I just understand clearly about a terminology

  4. Ipone 3g noob Says:

    Thank you now i know what the hell people are talking about now!

  5. Anonymous Says:


  6. latishawilliams Says:

    how do i get the unlock phone icon on quickpwn

  7. amr Says:

    after i had unlocked my 2g the apple logo apear and dosen’t open and the itunes says that there is a passcode on the iphone but the apple logo still apears

  8. amr Says:

    please help me in that

  9. » Why Jailbreak iPhone Says:

    [...] Risk Free: Jailbreaking is not unlocking! It is risk free. Everything that works before jailbreaking continues to work after. Jailbreaking only adds features. Jailbreaking is risk free and cannot void your warranty. You can simply restore in iTunes at anytime to get back to a factory state. You are not alone, many people are doing it. There are over 2 million jailbroken devices now! For understanding of jailbreak vs unlock read my terminology post. [...]

  10. iphone 2.2.1 Says:

    I usually don

  11. Haris Says:

    Thanks very much about the explanation. It help me a lot.

  12. Buy acai berry Says:

    Your blog is very interresting for me, i will come back here..

  13. Razerman Says:

    Hi, Used quickpwn to jailbreak and unlock my phone (2G), Jailbreak worked OK but the phone is still locked. I did tick Unlock when installing. Also when installing I did the restore the it found a backup and I installed that as well, Also I left my 02 sim in phone, Have I done something wrong and is it still possible to Unlock my phone, Regards, Razerman.

  14. Russ Says:

    So how about adding ECID and IMEI?

  15. Sam Says:


  16. sxill Says:

    Jailbreaking is not risk-free. The iphone is pretty locked down against attacks until you turn off all the security features with jailbreaking. Hacks can install and run permanently since more than one app can run at a time.

  17. Angie Says:

    You made some good points there,I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  18. Ricardo Says:

    Hi Guys

    My cousin gave me an old iphone last week,the phone was bought in england but i do live in Portugal, When he gave me the iphone i have put my sim card in it(Portuguese Network) and it worked perfectly.Sadly 2 days after i have decided to connect my iphone to my computer and when i opened the itunes there was a message saying “There is a newer version of software for your iphone do you want to install it”and i said yes.After finished the installation it didnt accept my sim card and all i can do is emergency calls.Can please anyone help me with it i always have dreamed of having an iphone and now that i did have one it doesnt work anymore.

    Many Thanks

  19. steveniski Says:

    If apple comes out with a new upgrade/update will if effect my phone when i connect to itunes or will things just go as they have so far? No risk of missing out on new features from apple?

  20. .:: The PsyTech News Blog ::. » Blog Archive » Why Jailbreak iPhone Says:

    [...] There are over 2 million jailbroken devices now! For understanding of jailbreak vs unlock read my terminology [...]

  21. John Says:

    Thanks very much about the explanation. It help me a lot. I have a 3GS v3.1 can you help me to jailbreak.

  22. [wpoekf Says:

    i tried to jailbreak my iphone 3g 3.0.1 but while doing so , in the step where u have to restore your software with the new ipsw the itunes says , device not compatible with firmware,what should i do ,

  23. Nickie Says:

    my iphone 3gs was loading while trying to download the jailbreak thing and now my phone won’t turn on anymore. What do I do

  24. william Says:

    hey guys, my auntie is going to send me an iphone as a gift. so i told her to buy from apple store only. she say i have 2 choices: preactivated or unlocked. she says that the store charges an extra $70 for preactivation, while an unlocked iphone costs an extra $100. since im planning to use my iphone in another country with an approved carrier, which is the best choice for me: unlocked or preactivated? please note that i am also planning to jailbreak the iphone and maybe unlock for use by another carrier…thanks!

  25. william Says:

    also is it true that if you bought your iPhone 3G outside the country, “Apple made sure you can’t activate it on other carriers in other countries” ??? can anyone confirm this?

  26. william Says:

    Im sorry my aunt clarified to me that the “unlocked” type is actually an iphone “without activation”.

  27. Josh WoW Says:

    If you unlock your iphone, do you lose update ability and can you not sync itunes and such anymore? In other words what the the BAD things that happen when you decide to unlock your iphone and go with T-Mobile instead to save money? What exactly do you lose out on with your iphone? And did I see you say you CANNOT unlock the new iphones?

    Thanks! Great site. Very helpful, which is why I’m actually posting a question!


  28. mcm Says:

    i brought an factory unlocked.will it lock up on me if i down i tunes or upgrade software,i had a i phone it was only unlocked and i try to down lode songs and up grade it lock and had to sell because i did not know what to do,love this phone and now i am getting a factory unlocked i phone 3gs16 gb, will i be ok with t mobile thank mary

  29. fery.basuki Says:

    help me,,, i already try jailbreak with blackra1n, but the icon didnt appear in my 3gs? why???

  30. Rah Says:

    How to unlock 3.13 or down grade my iPhone

  31. Brandon Says:

    I still can’t decide whether to get myself an iphone or blackberry!!! ANyone can give me some idea/opinion?? =( =( =( I heard that the latest iphone 4 is very very nice!

  32. Evelyn Says:

    I have an iphone 2G 8GB, and I had changed my password and then forgotten it like an idiot. I got it back into factory mode but I don’t have AT&T, my dad had jailbroke it so that it suited T-Mobile. After trying to activate it on itunes it says it has no SIM card, when I KNOW that there’s one there or the phone itself wouldn’t work.
    I tried using Blackra1n, but certain messages popup. After saving and running the jailbreaking program, a pop up that says, “This application has failed to start because ASL.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem.” After this pops up, the “let it rain” button pops up, then theres an error: “blackra1n[1].exe has stopped working. A program stopped the application from functioning correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you of any solution.” I have closed itunes and ituneshelper.exe on the task manager, re-started my phone thousands of times, re-downloaded blackra1n dozens of times.
    There was something about “hackticating” that would activate the phone on itunes, and that’s why I want Blackra1n so much; itunes holds a message that says that I have no SIM compatible with the Carrier or something like that.
    When I hook the phone up on the computer or simply turn it on, an image comes up that says to connect to iTunes, under it there is a “slide for emergency button.” it is in factory mode because I have received messages from known contacts that are not under the contact name and the globe is in the background.
    I have been trying carious Jailbreaking ways for hours and have not come up with any, none have worked succesfully. There is no problem with the hardware because the outgoing and incoming emergency calls are functionable. Tommorow I have a very important meeting and without my phone I have nothing. I have backup on another computer that has my contacts and such, so there are no problems there. I really need to activate my phone and I’m at the point of pulling my hair!

  33. Unlock iPhone 3.1.3 Says:

    Is the iphone 4 jailbreak and unlock solution out yet? iphone dev only has upto unlock iphone 3.1.3 3gs or os 4 beta on 3gs

  34. JDEwing24 Says:

    Definitely go Iphone.. I had a blackberry and switched over and it was a huge improvement.

  35. Ahmad Syahruddin Says:

    I beg your permission for copying iphone’s hack terminology in order to translate in bahasa Indonesia at my Blog.


  36. bobl Says:

    One question about activation:

    If my iPhone 3GS, on 3.1.2, has already been jailbroken, unlocked, and activated by the carrier’s people (bought used, from another carrier), does it need to be reactivated after I install/jailbreak/unlock with firmware 4.1? Or does the activation lasts forever?

    Thanks for the clarifications!

  37. aqua Says:

    Hi! I’m planning to buy an iphone 3GS, but the available version is ios 4.1. I’m planning to unlock it because I will use it in another country. Anyone can help?

  38. Doug N. Says:

    After I picked up my 3gs from at&t, I put my old 2g in a box and forgot about it. Then, I learned about jailbreaking my 2g from BigBossiPhone and a whole new world opened up. Now I use my 2g more often than my 3gs. I have installed Python and have written a payroll program to help me automate my company payroll using my 2g.

    Many thanks to the BigBoss for sharing his knowledge and expertise.

  39. n3r0 Says:

    this was very helpful, thanks

  40. Helpful iPhone News with tips & tricks » » 4.2.1 Untethered Jailbreak Out Says:

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  42. Why Should I Jailbreak My iPhone? | Xceller8 Says:

    [...] Jailbreak vs. Unlock: Jailbreaking is not unlocking! It is basically risk free and totally legal. The times I have Jailbroken iPhones they never “BRICKED” as you may have heard. Worse case scenario, you have to do a factory reset, but if you back-up your device in iTunes before attempting a Jailbreak, you can restore everything. Everything that works before jailbreaking, will work after. Jailbreaking only adds features and will not void your warranty because you can simply restore the phone in iTunes at anytime, and take it back to the factory settings. You are not alone, many people are doing it. There are over 10 million jailbroken devices now! [Jailbreak vs unlock read terminology.] [...]

  43. BlackRa1n iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad Jailbreak Tutorial | Xceller8 Says:

    [...] If you have not activated your device in iTunes, blackra1n will hactivate it for you. If you have a contract carrier, this will not work unless you also unlock. Unlock and [...]

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  49. TechTim Says:

    You learn something new everyday. As much as I hate to ask, what program do you need to SHSH into your iPhone from a Computer running Windows 7 SP1?

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  52. Castro Says:

    How do I get my phone from AT&T to sprint?? Plz thanks

  53. How To get Cydia on your iPhone 4s | myappfinder Says:

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  54. doors Says:

    Well I understand these terms.. now!

    I had a jailbroken iphone 4 running on older firmware I don’t know which (4.3.3 may be, I didn’t jailbreak)
    I decided to upgrade to 5.1 thinking it was the newer version with most features in thisprocess ended up upgrading the baseband for which no unlock is available but got introduced to cydia and other awesome features.

    using it as a ipod now ! any news on the unlock for 04.12.01 BB ? someone needs to crack it ASAP.
    I am sure there are others like me here.

  55. confused_apple Says:

    I have a jailbroken and unlocked iPhone 4 that I would like to reset to factory setting. Will my phone still be unlocked after the reset?
    (firmware 5.0.1; 02.10.04 bb)

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