The IPhone Finally Pwned, But Still Locked


Chicago (IL) - It took just ten days of iPhone 3G availability until the iPhone Dev Team announced the release of its PwnageTool 2.0, which enables iPhone owners to jailbreak the device’s 2.0 firmware. However, don’t get too excited as the group has not yet found a way to unlock the iPhone 3G from AT&T’s network.

The iPhone Dev Team attracted attention when it announced its PwnageTool for the new iPhone weeks ahead of phone’s release. The software promised to crack the 2.0 firmware and enable experienced users to replace the iPhone OS with other operating systems, for example a Linux variant optimized for the handset. The PwnageTool 2.0.1 is a Mac-only application and does not require extensive technical knowledge of your handset’s inner workings. "It should be as easy enough for your grandmother to use," the iPhone Dev team stated.

Pwns, but does not unlock

The software jailbreaks and unlocks older iPhones and jailbreaks iPhone 3Gs and iPod Touches, but works only if your device is updated with the 2.0 firmware. Jailbreaking removes restrictions on software installation, making it possible to install and run non-Apple-approved applications on the device. The usefulness of the tool is somewhat questionable now, as the 2.0 firmware has delivered the App Store, Apple-made application store that enables users to browse, download and install over 800 Apple-approved iPhone applications directly on the handset. However, if you like to install non-AppStore application, you will need jailbreaking software. Just keep in mind that installing a tool such as the PwnageTool will void your warranty.

The Pwnage Tool will not, at least at this point, unlock your iPhone 3G for use on any GSM network (the software can still be used to unlock the first generation iPhone.) The iPhone Dev Team stated that hardware changes in iPhone 3G are disable the hacking procedure that worked on the first-gen phone. The group is currently working to discover workaround and will update PwnageTool as soon as it finds unlocking solution.

Apple has been playing a cat and mouse game with unlockers since the original iPhone went on sale. With each iPhone software update, Apple plugged exploits that enabled hackers to gain full access to the handset. The company occasionally went a bit too far and upset customers when it released 1.1.1 firmware that turned unlocked iPhones into unusable bricks.

Analysts and Apple estimate that as much as 25% of the original iPhones sold were later unlocked. It was estimated that there were about 800,000 to 1.5 million unlocked iPhones in use around the world by February 2008. This time around, however, the game is changed: Not only is an activated iPhone 3G right out of the store now a requirement (the original iPhone was purchased without an out-of-the-store activation), but AT&T now has also a motivation to keep the iPhone 3G locked as it now subsidizes the handset and needs to recoup its initial investment.

You can watch the PwnageTool 2.0 in action in this YouTube video. There is also a Quicktime video manual how to jailbreak your iPhone.

Christian Zibreg is an editor and writer whose work has appeared in Tom's Guide, TGDaily, Geek, BSN*, 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, and MakeUseOf. He also has experience in marketing, publishing, and public relations — but he specialises in writing content about Apple, Windows, and Google, and is currently an editor for iDownloadBlog.