Jailbreak Glossary: QuickPwn, PwnageTool, Redsn0w, Yellowsn0w, Ultrasn0w Explained

iPhone JailbreakIf you’re new to iPhone jailbreak, you may be confused by all the terms such as QuickPwn, Yellowsn0w, Ultrasn0w, etc. That was one of the popular questions I received for iPhone new comers. So, instead of answering the question one by one, the best is to put up a post to address this common question.

But before explaining the terms one by one, first let me make clear what jailbreak is and the difference between jailbreak & unlock. Then I’ll go over all common terms you may heard of about jailbreak and unlock.

Okay, here we go.

What’s Jailbreak & Unlock

Jailbreak – Normally, you can only download iPhone applications from iTunes App Store. By jailbreaking the iPhone, it brings you ample opportunities to install 3rd party iPhone applications which cannot be put up on App Store, via Cydia. Some examples of these unofficial applications are MMS hack for iPhone 2G, video recording application and theme manager for iPhone. For details about jailbreak, you can check out the post on Why Jailbreak? Reason to jailbreak iPhone.

Unlock – Unlock refers to the process by which your iPhone can use SIM card from any carrier. For instance, iPhone is exclusively distributed by AT&T in US. In other words, it is locked and iPhone user in US can only use AT&T sim card. By going through the unlock process, your iPhone is allowed to use any carrier.

Jailbreak Tools for iPhone

Redsn0w – Redsn0w is the latest generation of Jailbreak tool offered by iPhone Dev Team that supports jailbreaking on iPhone OS 3.0. It supports all models of iPhone including iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS, as well as iPod Touch. Both Windows and Mac version are available. Redsn0w comes with built-in utility to unlock iPhone 2G. Jailbreaking using redsn0w is very straightforward and it is considered as the most user-friendly jailbreak utility iPhone. Redsn0w is also considered as a replacement of QuickPwn. To learn more about how to jailbreak using redsnow, you can check out this step-by-step guide.

QuickPwn – Developed by iPhone Dev Team, QuickPwn is a jailbreak utility for iPhone 2G & 3G. It supports jailbreaking up to firmware 2.2.1. Both Windows and Mac versions are available. It also comes with built-in utility to unlock iPhone 2G. QuickPwn is considered as the most user-friendly utility for iPhone Jailbreak and now replaced by redsn0w.

PwnageTool – Also, developed by iPhone Dev Team, PwnageTool is a jailbreak tool for Mac platform only. It supports jailbreaking on iPhone 2G/3G/3GS and firmware level up to 3.0. Same as QuickPwn, it also provides built-in option to unlock iPhone 2G. Compared with QuickPwn, for which it performs jailbreaking directly on iPhone, PwnageTool takes a different approach of jailbreak that it creates a custom firmware file (i.e. IPSW) for jailbreaking. PwnageTool is considered as more flexible as it allows the direct modification of firmware file. To learn about how to jailbreak with PwnageTool, you can refer to iPhone 3.0 Jailbreak Guide for Mac User.

Purplera1n – Purplera1n is an alternative of jailbreak tool to Redsn0w and Pwnagetool for iPhone 3GS only. It is developed by GeoHot, who is the guy that developed an unlock solution for the 1st generation iPhone dated back to 2007. Purplera1n supports both Windows and Mac. To jailbreak iPhone 3GS with purplera1n, you can refer to “How to Jailbreak iPhone 3GS with Purplera1n“.

iPhone Unlock Utilities

Yellowsn0w – Yellowsn0w is the 1st generation of unlock tool, developed by iPhone Dev team, to unlock iPhone 3G and supports firmware 2.2 (with baseband version 02.28.00). The software is freely available via Cydia. You’ll need to first jailbreak the iPhone before you can install the software.

Ultrasn0w – Ultrasn0w is the 2nd generation of unlock tool, developed by iPhone Dev team, to replace yellowsn0w. It is considered the ultimate unlock tool (as of now) to unlock iPhone 3G and 3GS on iPhone OS 3.0. To use ultrasn0w, it is required to jailbreak your iPhone first. The ultrasn0w software is available from Cydia and it’s free. For instructions, you can refer to the Step-by-Step Guide to Unlock iPhone 3G/3GS.

Purplesn0w – Developed by GeoHot, Purplesn0w is an alternative to Ultrasn0w for iPhone 3GS unlock. To use Purplesn0w, you’ll need to jailbreak the iPhone with Purplera1n before applying Purplesn0w. For instruction of installation, you can refer to the unlock guide using Purplesn0w.

Third Party Application Installer

Cydia – Developed by Jay Freeman, cydia is the most common installer for 3rd party iPhone application. Cydia supports the latest version of iPhone OS 3.0 and is installed by default during jailbreak process. For more information about Cydia, you can refer to my guide about cydia. Most of the iPhone apps in cydia are free for download. But cydia also offers a cydia store for purchasing paid apps.

Icy – An alternative of Cydia for installing 3rd party apps on iPhone, developed by RipDev. As claimed by the team, Icy offers better performance over cydia and is designed to compatible with any cydia packages. Icy can be installed during jailbreak process. For details about Icy, you can further refer to this post.

Installer – Installer is the 1st generation of 3rd party application installer. It supports firmware up to 2.2. Installer is a great app installer before the debut of Cydia. However, as of today, the iPhone apps available on Installer is much less than that on Cydia or Icy.

Written by

Computer Science Student from University of Cincinnati turned writer with my first iPhone. I like to travel, make friends with tech minded folks on internet. I write on my 13" MacBook Pro Retina and iPad Air Cellular. Black iPhone 5S is my sidekick.