Possible Duplicate:
What is the difference between: Rooting, Jailbreak, ROM, Mod, etc

Is either possible, legal, contractually legit and does either damage the phone?

  • I'm also interested in this. Ie. the difference between unlocking an iPhone and an Android phone. iPhones void warranty and you can't use the app store (from what i understand) does the same hold true for Android phones?
    – brad
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 14:02
  • My prelim googling implies that unlocking is just getting it to work with other carriers, but jailbreaking is something like having the administrator password on a computer. Apple is famous for trying to cripple jailbroken phones, as for Android google isn't giving me a clear answer.
    – MatthewMartin
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 14:08
  • legality varies by country and region. You might want to clarify what jurisdiction you're in
    – Rich Seller
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 14:46
  • Duplicate of android.stackexchange.com/questions/2885/…
    – newuser
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


If you were to unlock your Android phone, this would be to allow a SIM from any provider to be used in the handset. Phones are usually locked to a provider when they are purchased (the idea being to stop you using other SIM cards after buying your phone). You can however get a sim unlock code from the network when you contract runs out. You can also buy the handsets with no contract unlocked.

Jailbreaking (or rooting as its known on Android) allows you to do a few different things, the main use seems to be either tethering (however it seems that more phones are offering this as standard), or installing a custom firmware.

One thing to mention, is rooting your phone will invalidate your warranty, so if you get stuck, you will be on your own (however there are many sites out there full of people who will help you if things go wrong). There is a small risk of bricking the phone (however there are ways to recover from this too on some handsets).

Personally I've rooted my Android device and have enjoyed playing with custom firmware and it's generally been smooth sailing (although as it takes a long time to boot after flashing a new firmware, the first time I was a bit worried :P). However, I would suggest doing a fair bit of reading around first, and only approaching this once you're sure you know what you're doing.

Hope this helps!

  • to my knowledge (and Wikipedia agrees) the PUK is the Personal Unblocking Code or PIN Unlock Code, for that rare cases when you mistype your pin 4 times. And nothing todo with Unlocking the phone for other networks. see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Unblocking_Code
    – Midday
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 19:12
  • Yea your right :) I've edited the original post to reflect that!
    – Kingamajick
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 10:10
  • @Kingamajick: I think this answer should be merged into "What is the difference between: Rooting, Jailbreak, ROM, Mod, etc".
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 7:30

As I understand it, unlocking (with any phone) is allowing it to work with other carriers, as you've surmised.

In the Android world, the "correct" term for the equivalent of "jailbreaking" (which seems to be an iPhone-centric term) appears to be "rooting" (which is much more technically descriptive, anyway). Rooting, as I understand it, is gaining root access to the device, which allows you to basically do anything you can figure out how to (install custom ROMs, access previously locked-down functions such as wifi tethering, etc.).

Rooting/jailbreaking is now apparently explicitly legal, although doing some of the things that many people root to be able to do is not, if it violates your carrier's terms of service (i.e. wifi tethering).