Six hacks for your mobile gear

These six hacks unleash the hidden power in your mobile gadgets.

Unlock an iPhone and Install Unofficial Apps

Difficulty: Hard; Time: 2.5 hours

Despite its coolness factor, the Apple iPhone comes with way too many restrictions. You're locked into AT&T service, for starters. On top of that, Apple says that it must approve all software before anyone can use the programs. But with this iPhone hack, you'll be able to swap in a different SIM from another provider. In addition, you'll have access to new software tools--such as one that gives you the ability to share the iPhone's mobile Internet connection with a laptop--that AT&T doesn't permit.

As of this writing, you can hack both the original iPhone and the newer 3G iPhone to give them access to new software, but with this hack only the original handset can accept other SIM cards.

The hack requires a Mac in order to work. The process will void your warranty, and there's a small chance that you'll damage the phone in a way that prevents your restoring the handset from a backup. At the very least, before you dive in, sync your iPhone with iTunes and then Ctrl-click the phone name to create a software backup.

A program called PwnageTool performs the hack. You'll also need original firmware for the iPhone. If you're lucky, you'll have a recent version of it in Users, Username, Library, iTunes, iPhone Software Updates. Otherwise, click your phone, and select the Restore button in iTunes to download the latest file to that location. Next, search online for "bl39.bin and bl46bin iPhone boot-loader download" and grab copies of those two files. Now verify that the .ipsw and .bin files you downloaded will work, by checking the list on the PwnageTool Web site.

Launch PwnageTool and choose your iPhone. Click the right arrow for the next page. PwnageTool should find the .ipsw file automatically (if it doesn't, browse to the file manually). Select the file and click the right arrow. It'll ask for the bootloaders; click No to skip the search, and enter where they're stored locally. Then click Yes to create the new iPhone .ipsw firmware file. You will be prompted for your admin password.

After the tool tells you to connect the phone, follow the on-screen instructions to turn it off, push the power button followed by the home button, and then release the buttons in that order.

Back in iTunes, hold down the Option key and click Restore. Choose the new, PwnageTool-created firmware on your desktop, and click Open. After several minutes, iTunes will restart the phone and will prompt you for a backup file to restore your old data on the hacked phone. Choose one if you want, or skip the prompt to start fresh.

A utility called Cydia will have been installed on the iPhone. It downloads unapproved software directly to the handset, but you'll still be able to buy programs through the App Store. And if you've hacked an original iPhone, you can now make calls on it with any active GSM SIM card.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zack Stern

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?