Under Design

…hates to admit he might have a blog.

Phone Hacking: What’s It All Mean? A Dictionary of Common Terms

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When it comes to getting the most out of your beloved companion, there’s a web of buzzwords thrown around once you start getting into hacking your smart phone. Whether it’s an iPhone or an Android device, if you’re just getting started with customizing your personal device, you might be confused as to what these technical terms mean and what you can do legally with your device.

Unlocked/Locked

Is the phone software or hardware locked to using a single mobile provider? If you got your phone free or with a service plan, it’s probably locked to the phone provider you signed up with, for a minimum of 2 years. Supposedly, they’ll unlock phones after the 2-year contract is fulfilled (at the store/shop you bought it from), but I have yet to hear of anyone having success with this.

You only need to unlock your phone if you’re going to switch mobile providers. As most major providers use different technologies (Global System for Mobile Communications [GSM] and Code Division Multiple Access [CDMA]), this is difficult as most devices are designed to use only one technology.

You might find newer phones (including the recently released iPhone 4S) to include multiple cell technologies in their phones, trying to rid themselves of service loyalty. After all, phone manufacturers have a vested interest in ubiquity, not exclusivity. BGR goes as far as to say that all carriers hate Apple’s outlier iPhone.

Jailbreak/Jailbroken


Jailbreaking your Phone allows you to run unauthorized apps and customize your phone in an assortment of ways. Currently, the only way to get new apps on your device is through the default App Store on your platform. Like all retailers, a small portion of the money spent at the store goes to the store owner, and they get final say on the products they will offer for sale.

The internet was made for comparison shopping, and Jailbreaking is basically installing another store, which will also be able to install new applications on your Phone.

Buy a Printer? Notice how the refills cost more than the printer? That’s the profit margin – new ink sales; Same with Jailbreaking. You’ll be getting your refills from a competitor, whose product is generically equal, but less costly, and offer a wider selection of choices.

Tethered/Untethered


A Tethered Jailbreak requires you to re-hack your phone every time it reboots. Since most people rarely reboot, this is ideal for temporary installs or testing. This is also good for Phones under a warrantee plan or from a corporate provider, where the expectation is that the phone will be returned in the same condition as it was given.

Of course, if you decide you like the new features of any Jailbreak, often you can install it untethered as a permanent install.

Did I Miss Something?

Post a comment if you have a word you’d like me to add to this page. I’m considering including some of the popular data types and plans: EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) vs. EVDO (Evolution, Data Optimized) a.k.a. CDMA2000. Thanks for reading!

Written by Under

February 24, 2012 at 4:20pm

Posted in DIY, Hacking

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