Updating the iPhone 3G – 3.1.2 Pwnage Jailbreak and iOS 4?

About my iPhone 3G..

I am “off the network” and thus paid AT&T to cancel my iPhone voice and data contract when I moved up here to Canada. The long distance roaming charges were killing me, as well, I already have a silly little phone to receive my calls on, which I use sparingly one day a week to communicate with my wife and answer calls from the store while we are out shopping for used furniture and stuffs (for said store). The iPhone, instead of selling it or trashing it, is now basically a glorified iPod Touch, which has a camera, mic, speaker, WiFi, and the psuedo-GPS which an iPhone 3G offers… well perhaps cancel that last bit since I don’t have an active phone plan on this thing, thus making said GPS entirely useless. It thinks I am in San Francisco for whatever reason, must be hardcoded somehow. Anyway..

Connecting the iPhone 3G

There are plenty of expensive networks up here (Telus, Rogers, Bell, maybe others) that have locked-up iPhones with several year contracts and all the lovely billing you would want. But, they can’t give you a 3G sim card to save your life apparently, without said voice and dataplan, so the alternative for me is to use and my old trusty iPhone 3G (with AT&T sim chip, still, or no chip at all, since I use Airplane mode with WiFi enable 99% of the time) as is, dead to the phone network per se, and make use of some freebee dumb little phone rarely capable to make SMS text messages, no voicemail no nothing, $20 a month tops, and if I were to hookup my iPhone 3G, it would be with one of those pay-as-you-go service, such as T-Mobile, Vodafone or many of the other fine carriers across Canada, (AT&T not being one of them) .. which at this point, I haven’t done yet ..

So, anyway, I wanted to update the firmware since it’s been a few years for me. Well, one reason I have waited so long, it seems that if you have a USA fone with a AT&T sim chip, they lock down the carrier bundle so you can’t ever use the phone with any other network besides there, and it’s a permanent disable — ouch — so you get a brick basically and lose your hardware investment if you update the software past 3.0.x — Now, thanks to the iPhone Dev Team (which makes the Pwnage tool), you can patch the ROM file and update your phone without ruining my broadband carrier settings thingy, so kudos to them it was fairly easy..

Step 1, download the tool. I have Mac OSX so got the Pwnage tool for that, the DMG unpacks to a single app and you load it and go.

Step 2, download the firmware. In this case, since my phone is so old I got the 3.1.2 update file and saved it to my downloads folder.

Step 3, use tool to patch said firmware. It takes the firmware and does some magick to it, then saves the .ipsw file to my Desktop for me. I just launch Pwnage tool and it finds the file and does its thing in a few mouse clicks and several minutes later the file is ready for iTunes.

Step 4, apply the firmware using iTunes restore function, the phone is updated. iTunes tells me that I already synced said phone before and do I want to restore the backup? I say yup and iTunes gets all my apps and settings and what nots copied back to the phone.

What goodies did I get going from 3.0.x to the newer 3.1.2 update? Increased battery life, cooler Apple applications, bug fixes, stability? Yeah I suppose so. It was just time. And, besides, I wanted to prepare myself for the next good thing coming from Apple, what WWDC clamored about, the new and improved iPhone 4 and Apple’s new free update for all iPhones and iPod Touch wares, the iOS4!

iPhone 4 and the glorious new iOS4

Well yes, the new phone hardware and software is a serious update to the older models. The OS alone has some 100 great features for owners of the iPhone 3G(S) and iPhone 4, neither of which I have nor will I want to upgrade for the price of a 2-3 year contract of monthly charges (Bell’s plans go between $50 to $100 a month for service, though you get a good upgrade price on the phone itself), however iOS4 will ALSO work on the earlier iPhone 3G like mine,  so that is cool … of course, certain features will probably not be supported, at least officially.. I don’t have dual cameras or LED flash/light, a retina display, more RAM, a bumper, stainless encircling bands, dual glass or any of those nifty new HARDWARE features, but for a free upgrade, that sounds good.

Let’s hold the phone and hype a minute though (oh, sorry pun!) Let’s look at some of those features I will gain with the update and compare with what is currently possible with an unlocked (aka jailbroken) phone.

-Multitasking .. I can do this now with my jailbroken phone, but it seems this function is not available for standard-issue iPhone 3G on iOS4 –  I wonder why? Batterylife? Slower processor? Perhaps, conservative yes, but ok I can see the logic here.

-Video recording .. I can do this now with my jailbroken phone, can I do it with Apple’s stock iPhone 3G camera app? Hmm, I would think so. Though, I don’t see that feature listed here. Maybe that’s only for the iPhone 3G(S) owners? Well, I guess I will stick with the free and opensource Cycorder for now.

-Video editing .. Now that sounds way cool. VLOG on the fly! The big question is, will iMovie for iPhone be supported on iPhone 3G? It doesn’t seem to mention it, though that would be a nice feature to have — granted, I already edit the Cycorder movies with iMovie ’09 on my MacBookPro before uploading to YouTube, but this would essentially save that step. Features needed: The ability to pull in photos, movie clips, and audio from other places besides the iPhone’s iPhoto and  iTunes .. There isn’t any issue with having to import said photos, audio, and movies into iPhoto on the Mac and iTunes, but, doing a straight file-copy to a certain directory would be much preferred, and there are sharing apps that do this even if your phone is not jailbroken, so it’s possible .. just a thought ..

  • Folders .. This is a nifty feature, of course, this idea has been around for awhile via Springboard/Winterboard, so it’s nothing new. Nice that Apple finally made it a standard feature of the OS though, great job there for those that make use of folders. I don’t, but, I could 😉

  • Facetime .. if this works, it would be awesome to have. With the open API apple is promising, I can see Skype app for iPhone making use of it, even though I just have an iPhone 3G, I am sure it can be done, I mean, over WiFi great, and if someone wants to see me, I can just turn the phone around and point it at myself, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to use a mirror LOL..

  • Backgrounds, Theme/Icon support .. this too has been around for some time, and it seems Apple finally added this as well, er, maybe.. the iOS4 seems to hint at that, if it doesn’t already do it, it will likely just be a matter of time before people can engage in customization a bit more. All the other phones have it (e.g., blackberry, motorola, android, etc.) so why not iPhone?

  • Compatibility .. Well, this is true, and expected .. a number of apps just don’t work on iOS4 yet. Do I want to lose these fun games and apps just for some new features of the OS? No, not yet. I will wait until things are a bit more settled and stable, and all my fave games and apps play well with the new iOS 4..

So, okay, iOS4 is a great idea and I look forward to using it, though, it’s not yet viable for me. Too many unknowns! There are some questionable privacy concerns about the new OS floating about the net, though, could just be conspiracy hype, who knows? We shall see …

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