Apple Won’t Fix My iPhone, But Jailbreaking Will

Posted on 07 August 2011, Last updated on 07 August 2011 by

cydiaHere’s one more reason I’d be using Android if I couldn’t jailbreak my iPhone:

The home button on my iPhone 4 has crapped out. Not entirely, but enough so that sometimes it doesn’t recognize when I press the button. For you non-iPhone users, the home button is the one you use every time you want to get back to the home screen (where all your apps are located), which means you use this button a lot.

Double pressing the button is also used to get to the task-switcher which lets you jump between apps, and holding it down activates voice control. The button has about a 50/50 chance of working, which means getting the double-press to work happens about 25% of the time.

Because the button is used so much, having it inconsistently work makes using the phone extremely frustrating!

So what to do? I call up Apple support. They generally have really good support with one major caveat, you better have a warranty!

Naturally, my phone is 20 days out of warranty (Murphy’s Law tells us that things won’t start breaking until your warranty period is over). The support person asks someone if they can give me an exception since I’m only 20 days out of warranty, but I’m turned away. The only option is to have them repair the phone out of warranty, which costs the same amount as buying a new iPhone, which I’m not interested in doing for a phone that’s still mostly functional.

So Apple won’t fix my phone. Fortunately, as a jailbreaker, I’ve got access to tools that regular iPhone users do not.

Jailbreaking is the de-facto term for describing the process of hacking your iPhone to release it from the restrictions that Apple imposes on it. Once jailbroken, you’ve got access to Cydia, which is essentially the jailbreak version of the App Store. Through Cydia, you can install apps and tools that Apple won’t allow in the app store because they do things that Apple doesn’t want official apps to be able to do.

Thanks to the awesome (and free) Activator app which is installed through Cydia, I can reprogram any of the phone’s buttons (or even software gestures) to do pretty much anything I’d like, including, simulating a press of the home button.

So as of now I’ve used Activator to reprogram my volume-up button so that a short hold simulates a press of the home button (a single tap still works as you’d expect).

Viola! Problem pretty much fixed (better than Apple could do for me out of warranty, anyway). While at it, I’ve also taken the liberty of making a short hold of the volume-down button compose a new text message in a pop-up (through another jailbreak app called iReal SMS), and I’ve set a short hold of the lock button to take me directly to the settings app for quick access to WiFi connection management and more.

The people responsible for jailbreaking, and developing the apps that are accessed through it, are providing extremely useful tools to those who want to take advantage of them.

This is why it’s upsetting that Apple tries to block jailbreaking at every update.

Jailbreaking has saved me money, provided support where Apple could not, and provides a bunch of functionality that I use daily that Apple’s iOS doesn’t support by default.

Not only this, but jailbreaking has been the birth place of many great improvements to iOS that Apple has stolen, or at least taken ideas from. It seems that Apple should be fostering the jailbreak community, not hindering it.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Dustin says:

    Its apple,they want your money, my ipod touch 2g(which i bought at circuit city and got the extended warranty there) broke, the battery would last about 5 minutes. so i called apple and they told me 100+ just to fix the battery and they said i wouldnt get back the same device i would get a refurbished itouch 2g, so i jailbroke it and it actually helped, and eventually jailbraking destroyed it, wouldnt turn on or anything, so i had to factory reset it and put it in dfu mode,never, had this problem on all of my droids

  2. aftermath says:

    So, you bought into the marketing tricks of a vertically integrated, high proprietary, aggressively business modeled, and legally defended product, and now you’re interested in things like your perceived rights and hacking to make the device better. What a waste. If you want to be taken seriously as somebody who wants things to work the way you want them to work, then consider making a legitimate contribution to open software and hardware and sharing your efforts into a relevant arena rather than simply subsidizing yourself against the built-in disadvantages of the product that you wasted your money on. Honestly, this is like people who eat fast food everyday, whine about how fat and unhealthy they get, and then congratulate themselves when they “hack” their diet by throwing away the bun from their garbage hamburger. That totally misses the point. Your product was defective by design, and while you’re congratulating yourself on you’re little work around, then point should have been that you should have never been there in the first place if your interests were sincere. People who create and use jailbreaking tools for such products are misguided and confused. A local career politician who I’ve worked with is (in)famous for quipping “Just because you pay a woman for sex, it doesn’t mean she’ll kiss you.” If you really want to be kissed, then stop spending your money “dating” working girls.

  3. Ben says:

    An interesting opinion. Honestly, if I wasn’t happy with the iPhone line of devices, I wouldn’t have owned an iPod Touch, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and now the iPhone 4. No amount of marketing tricks has made me stick with iOS for my mobile, just high usability/usefulness.

    I understand the benefits of having an open operating system like Android, but for millions of users out there, having an easy to use and reliable OS out of the box means they can be productive with their devices with little to no tinkering. Mainstream does not want to bother with tinkering, and that’s why iOS devices sell so well. Android devices require tinkering to get to their optimal level. [Just to clarify, when I say ‘mainstream’ I mean non-geeks and people who care little about what computer/device they are using, as long as it does what they want {and yes, these people are the majority}].

    Fortunately, the options do exist, through jailbreaking, to make a few tweaks that pro-users see necessary, and to add some functionality that is more complex than the mainstream needs to iOS (like the ability to reprogram buttons).

    You mention that I should be contributing to open software and hardware, but you may have misread the article (or you are addressing the jailbreak community rather than me) — I didn’t do any programming to make this happen. The app, Activator, was made by someone else. I just installed it and used it to change what my buttons do, providing a work-around for an issue that could have happened to any device, be it running WebOS, Android, WP7, Windows, etc.

    I mentioned that I’d be on Android if I couldn’t jailbreak my iPhone, but for the things I do with my phone, iOS+jailbreak > Android, even if iOS < Android.

  4. DaDude says:

    Did you took a look at ifixit.com? They have repair guides + spare parts for almost any iDevice. So maybe you can fix it yourself for little money… ;)

  5. turn.self.off says:

    Reinforces my suspicion that Apple do not really want to kill jailbreaking, as it would chase away the technical users that gets asked to recommend products to others ever so often.

  6. tomhut says:

    Apple Retail stores often cover things out of warrantee for the first 30 days or so, Applecare not so much.

    One tip that sometimes works is to hold down the home button very firmly with quite a large amount of pressure for 10 seconds, release and repeat again 4-5 times.

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