A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

Summary: The great folks at the iPhone Dev Team were able to crank out the first version of a jailbreak/unlock solution in record time and I went through the process with my iPhone 3GS. I am now using it on T-Mobile and enjoying the benefits of iOS 4.


I purchased an iPhone 3GS last year, but subsequently canceled my AT&T plan after way too poor of performance and paid the ETF. I then jailbroke and unlocked my 3GS to use with my T-Mobile SIM card and have been using it off and on for several months. I am always amazed at the speed at which developers can get things working after Apple updates the firmware and cannot believe these people keep doing it after numerous Apple updates. I read over on TiPB today that the iPhone Dev Team did it again with a method to jailbreak and unlock iPhone 3GS units with an upgrade to iOS 4, given a few caveats.

Luckily, I have been pretty lazy about updating my iPhone lately and it was sitting back on the 3.1.2 version of the firmware. If you updated to 3.1.3 then you are out of luck since the developers haven't yet figured out how to jailbreak that version. The following must be present before you should even think about performing the iOS 4 update:

  1. Own a Mac if you are a 3GS owner (There is a windows solution for 3G users)
  2. NOT have jailbroken previously with Spirit
  3. Have a previously jailbroken device with firmware 3.1.2 or earlier

I followed the directions from the iPhone Dev Team and simply used the latest version of the PwnageTool that I have used in the past and created a custom recovery image. I then entered DFU mode and restored my iPhone 3GS with this iOS 4 firmware. At first I also applied my previous backup and then couldn't get a wireless signal through T-Mobile. I later found out I was missing a step and may have been able to keep everything from this backup loaded. However, reinstalling everything gave me a chance to clean off tons of junk so I restored again without applying the backup.

After you are jailbroken, you must go into Cydia and install the ultrasn0w utility in order to unlock the 3GS and use your T-Mobile SIM. I was beating myself up trying to find out what was missing when I stumbled upon this note.

My iPhone 3GS now has iOS 4 loaded up and is working just fine with my T-Mobile SIM and via WiFi connections. The folder setup through iTunes on my MBP was slick and I was able to take 11 pages of applications and squeeze it down to just four pages through the use of folders. I had folder support before with Categories, but this new Apple method is much more user friendly. The "multitasking" is slick and something I could do in a limited fashion before with a jailbroken device. I like the improvement to the camera where I now have face recognition. iBooks support is handy, but I use Kobo, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble for my ebook content and have no plans to purchase iBooks. You can check out the Complete Guide to iOS 4 and know that the iPhone 3GS gets most of these improvements for FREE.

Given that I hardly use my iPhone 3GS, I do not want to go back to AT&T, I really enjoy using my Sprint HTC EVO 4G (notifications, Gmail support, widgets, and more ROCK for geeks like me), I have an iPad that I use MUCH more than my iPhone, and I was able to update my 3GS to iOS 4 it is highly unlikely I will visit the Apple store tomorrow to pick up my reserved iPhone 4. I know the hardware will rock and I may have some envy and lust for the device, but I think this time my self-control will actually kick in and allow me to make sound choices.

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • RE: A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

    So this mentions nothing of the TMobile 3G compatibility issue (TMobile uses a different 3G band than the iPhone so true 3G network speeds are not possible), has that been fixed with this latest hacked firmware release? This is the only actual reason I am still with AT&T, I'd love to switch to TMobile, but I can't justify having the slower speeds.
  • RE: A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

    Sound choices? I guess whatever helps you sleep with your choices, Matthew. I have never paid an ETF fee when a carrier failed to deliver adequate service. The onus is on AT&T to deliver that caliber of service, and if the first customer service rep won?t let you off the hook, you go above them until someone with the authority to do so can.

    That said, I commend you for writing openly about jailbreaking the iPhone to take it to another carrier. The more press there is about inadequate service from AT&T, the more apt either they or Apple will be to offer something satisfactory and dependable (with whomever it may be).
  • Reserved iPhone 4?

    How about you go pick it up and send it to me? I have a 3GS and can't upgrade until 2011!
  • RE: A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

    I love ATT and I live 5 miles from NYC. I have never had a problem with any of their services. I have been able to order my iPhone 4 and it arrives tomorrow per the tracking on FedEx. I left Verizon because of poor customer service and extra charges and fees always appearing on my bill with not one viable or reasonable explanation as to why they were there. I left Verizon figuring that they owed me over $350.00 in credited fees. Please whine some more so that people will leave ATT and show us exactly how the other companies work when you whine about them.
  • RE: A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

    I believe you can "mini-size" the TMo SIM to work with the iPhone 4 -- just one google search should do it - instructions and videos out there. Waiting for the first TMo customer to get the iPhone 4 working - should be interesting to see it.
    • RE: A few easy steps to a T-Mobile iOS 4 powered iPhone 3GS

      @amckinnis: I'll buy an iPhone 4 when that happens - and I bet I'm not alone!