Jailbreaking Voids Your Warranty (If You Are Caught): Apple

After losing a battle on Monday with the EFF over jailbreaking iPhones, which the U.S. Copyright Office clarified as legal, Apple decided it wanted to win the war. The company reminded customers that jailbreaking voids their warranty. What it didn't remind folks is how easy it is to un-jailbreak a device.

Apple's official (yet unofficial) statement is:
“Apple’s goal has always been to insure (sic) that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”
It's in fact true that jailbreaking your iPhone will void your warranty. That's been known for years, and is old news.

Of course, Apple needs to be able to detect that you have jailbroken the device. What Apple didn't mention is that all that is needed is to restore your iPhone to a factory state. Let's assume you want to take your iPhone in to the Apple Genius Bar, in which case you want it totally clean. To do this:
  • Delete your backups from iTunes. Your device does not need to be connected.
  • Follow the instructions here to Restore your iPhone (do not create a backup). iTunes will download the latest official firmware for your device.
  • Of course, activate your iPhone through iTunes.
  • Follow the instructions here to do a factory reset of the phone (which will delete any residual jailbreak files).
You should be "safe" to take it in to Apple, given all that. This, of course, assumes that attempting to jailbreak the device didn't brick it, or that somehow the jailbreak prevents a factory restore as above. It's a small possibility, but it does exist.

That said, there are numerous programs for the iPhone that exist only for jailbroken devices, and many of them are so useful that once jailbroken folks can't resist doing it over and over again. Indeed, that's the biggest issue: each time a ROM comes out, you generally have to wait for hackers to generate a new jailbreak.