Tethered Or Untethered What’s The Difference

When you’re looking at buying a jailbroken iPhone or doing the jailbreaking yourself, it’s very important to know what you’re getting into. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with a useless brick in your hand just as you need to call a taxi or text your boyfriend about the date tonight! You’ll hear a lot of the same terms being thrown around: unlocking, tethering, blobs, and so on.

One of the simplest but most important things to understand when dealing with jailbroken iPhones is the difference between tethered and untethered iPhones. If your device is tethered, you are much more limited in what you can do with it and you will need to be very careful with your battery power a poor choice for a traveler, for example.

As new versions of iOS and new iPhones are released, many people are caught unawares. It’s easy to get complacent and assume your iPhone will be jailbroken after a simple iOS update, but in many cases, it won’t be. You might be able to take advantage of the software update if you’re willing to compromise on tethering, but you should never do that without understanding what you’re getting into. Here are the key differences between tethered and untethered iPhones, and the compromise now dubbed semi-tethered.

Tethered Jailbreak
If you have an iPhone that is tethered, you will not be able to reboot your phone without computer access. A tethered boot means you have to connect your phone to the computer to escape the Apple screen when you start it up if you have a laptop that’s out of power, you’re out of luck. You’ll need to start up the program you used to jailbreak the phone in order to boot it each time. This is the worst option of them all!

Untethered Jailbreak
If you can get an iPhone with an untethered jailbreak, you should do it. This means your phone functions like a normal iPhone, except it’s jailbroken. You can always connect it to your computer to tweak it if you want, but you can easily start it up, shut it down, and so on without connecting it to anything. You can run all the Cydia apps you want with an untethered jailbreak and not worry about being stranded with a useless phone. This is the most desirable option for an iPhone, but the latest phone usually can’t be jailbroken untethered for a few weeks or months.

Semi-Tethered Jailbreak
Can’t get an untethered jailbreak? This is the next best option. Sometimes development teams release semi-tethered solutions to help people who can’t get by with tethered jailbreaks when they haven’t yet released an untethered solution. With this type of jailbreak, you can restart your phone but you won’t be able to access Cydia or its apps, and sometimes even regular apps (Safari, for example). When you have computer access again, you can perform a tethered boot in order to get full functionality, but you should be able to freely call and perform limited functions with your iPhone.

iOS and iPhone Updates
When a new iPhone is released, it usually takes time before an untethered solution is available, so updating your hardware right away isn’t usually a good idea. You’ll probably want to keep your old iPhone until you can get the new one jailbroken with an untethered solution. Similarly, be careful about updating iOS without thinking a new version of iOS can be disastrous, like when users discovered that iOS 6 didn’t have an untethered solution. You may be able to restore your phone to an older version of iOS, but it’s annoying to do. It’s much easier to just be cautious whenever you see a software update.

In the long run, getting an untethered jailbroken iPhone is always the ideal solution. If you understand the differences between tethered, untethered, and semi-tethered jailbreaks, however, you might be able to get by with one of the other jailbreaks until a fully untethered jailbreak is available.