Previous 1 2 Next 28 Replies Latest reply: May 1, 2012 1:00 PM by Ingo2711
mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

I have a factory unlocked (purchased in Dubai) iPhone 3GS.  It's not on warranty, not on contract, not on anything.  I will be using it mainly in India, on one of their inexpensive networks.


I think I already know the answer to this, but I'd like to ask the question anyway, in case I'm wrong (which happens far too often nowadays!!).


Why can't I find applications that run on an iPhone and download them directly to my computer, and install them myself without their having to be Apple approved software?  I'm used to Nokia, where I can download software either from the Nokia store, or any other internet location.  None of it has to be approved by Nokia.  If I own my phone, is there any logical reason why I can't use it with any software I can find?


I suspect there might not be an answer to this, meaning I either have to limit myself to what's in the Apple store, or use outside software to "root" the phone.  That's what a friend of mine is doing, and his phone is only a "3G". 


To me, this is like buying a new car, that came with a note saying "Only use XYZ motor oil!".  For as long as the car would be on warranty, I could accept that, but once the car came off warranty, wouldn't it be mine to do with as I choose?




Specific example - apparently, a while back, the iPhone store removed any and all apps that gave some kind of list about nearby Wi-Fi.  Anyone who already had the apps could keep using them, but they were no longer available for download from the Apple store.  Suppose I wanted one of those apps.  Would there be any way that I could download an app like that directly from the software website?


With Nokia, I can download SPB software for my Nokia either from the Nokia store, or from the SPB website.  I'd like to be able to do that with my old iPhone.

iPhone 3GS, iOS 5
  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    All syncing is through iTunes only, that's how Apple designed it. You can also download the apps directly on your phone, if you are connected to Wi-fi and you're using the App Store on the iPhone.


    Apps are tied to the account you bought them with, that's another reason why you should back up your data, in case some apps are not available anymore in the App Store or require a newer version of the iOS.


    Using modified software on your phone can lead to unexpected results:

    Unauthorized modification of iOS has been a major source of instability, disruption of services, and other issues

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    If you buy a camera nowadays, they specify that only their brand of batteries can be used.

    If you buy a printer, they specify that only their brand of ink can be used.

    If you buy a car that needs replacement parts, ditto.



    It's always a choice.  The official choice is always the most expensive initially, and usually worls well..

    The least expensive choice might cost more in the long run because of problems, and might not work very well.

    There are usually choices inbetween, that get good perfmance with no loss in quality - and sometimes they provide even better quality than the factory brand.


    The page you linked to is excellent - there are lots of things there to be concerned about, and lots of ways to run into trouble if you don't know what you're doing.  That doesn't mean that someone who does take the time to understand what they're doing will also have problems.




    The thing is though, that a lot of people don't use products the way they were designed to be used.  Honda sells motorcycles to be driven on the street.  That doesn't stop buyers from making modifications and racing them.  They lose their warranty, and lose any factory support, but it's their product to use as they wish.


    The iPhone was designed for AT&T.  My buddy switched his ancient 3G to T-Mobile.  He's perfectly happy.  People here might be aware of thing he might be missing, but he has what he wants.




    Anyway, back to me.  I'm not pushing the issue that much.  I like the phone the way it is now, and the only issue is that even though the internet says you can get pre-pay for an iPhone, when you talk to people on the phone or at the AT&T store about it they say it's not available.  I use my phone half the time in the USA, and half the time in India.  The phone is working on AT&T right now, but there's no data, nor can I get data without a contract, and a contract is no good as I spend half my time overseas.


    To my simple way of thinking, if I spend the many hundreds of dollars to buy an unlocked iPhone overseas, with no US warranty, I should be able to use it on any network I want, and install whatever software I want.  I realize that's not how things work nowadays, so I pretty much have to accept it.  I was hoping to find some solutions, and the only useful one I've come up with (thanks to help from people here) is to consider T-Mobile and pre-pay.

  • norman_bates Level 3 (675 points)

    The reason apps have to be authorised by Apple is to ensure that they are safe to run and aren't packed with virus'


    If your iPhone is factory unlocked you can use it anywhere you like, as long as the carrier who the SIM you are using supports the iPhone that is.


    You will lose any support from Apple if you modify the iOS. iOS is so secure because of Apple's policy on downloading authorised software from their servers only, look at Android and other smartphone operating systems, there has been a need to create anti-virus' for the devices because they are unsecure. Would you want to download something that has a virus bundled with it and starts using your phone to make international calls, running up a huge bill that you will be liable for because you modified the iOS, or you buy something over the internet on your phone and the virus steals your payment information? If the answer is you're willing to take that risk then by all means jailbreak your device but it will not be supported by Apple and no one on here will be able to assist you with anymore queries, plus if something does go wrong you may never be able to revert to stock iOS, that's gonna result in a very expensive mistake

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi, and thanks for the advice. 


    I've been doing "this" since 1982, long before the "this" even existed.  I fully accept that there are various ways to protect unsuspecting users from getting a virus onto their device, and while the "closed" system is one of them, so is being "smart" about things, especially if you have experience at it. 


    For a customer who comes into one of the stores to purchase a smart-phone, and who knows nothing of the behind-the-scenes things going on, the standard consumer method is great - just like signing up for DirecTV or Cable.  For people who know more, the world is much larger - they still sell satellite systems so you can search out the satellite you want to watch, and enjoy programming that most people don't have access to.


    Anyway, regarding the phone, I appreciate everything you've said.  As for me, I'd rather trust my own ability to keep my phone safe, than to have Apple do it for me.  I never have had problems doing it "my way" with Windows phone many years ago, and then with Symbian.  I don't need someone else to "babysit" what I'm doing, and if I did have a problem, I know enough good people to help me figure out things I don't know....    which is where my iPhone is right now, as I'm just learning how to use it.  Still, while I may not know the menus and the tools, I do know enough not to install something unknown onto the phone without doing some research first.


    What you write is excellent advice for consumers who just want to buy and enjoy a phone.  If you're talking about computer programmers and technicians, they're already aware of how to do things safely.




    By the way, one thing you said I really do want to respond to "or you buy something over the internet on your phone and the virus steals your payment information?"   .....the immediate answer is "no", but my own answer to that is to never buy something on the internet from my phone, and to only use secure connections from a computer that I know to be secure and safe.  There's all this talk going around about how to do financial things with a phone, and personally, I don't trust any of them. 


    Last thing - yeah, some people go to a lot of trouble and do the "jailbreaking".  My own solution is to purchase a factory unlocked phone from one of the countrys where they are sold that way, such as Dubai and Hong Kong.  It costs more to begin with, but you own it, you don't have to mess with the OS, and you can use it on any network you want. 


    (....and as for the software that might be available elsewhere, it would be silly for me to go looking for stuff like that while I'm just learning how to use the phone itself.  Maybe a year from now I'll feel differently.  Right now, my phone is 100% "stock" - the only add-ons have come from Apple when they update things.)

  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    Copied from the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.





    1. Stay on topic. Apple Support Communities is here to help people use Apple products and technologies more effectively. Unless otherwise noted, do not add Submissions about nontechnical topics, including:
      1. Speculations or rumors about unannounced products.
      2. Discussions of Apple policies or procedures or speculation on Apple decisions.



    You can tell Apple about your thoughts here: Apple - iPhone - Feedback

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hello Ingo, and thanks for the suggestions.  I'm pretty sure I am staying on topic, and having spent the money to purchase an unlocked iPhone overseas, I'm certainly trying to learn how to use "Apple products and technologies more efficiently".  That was one of the reasons for posting this thread.


    Having gone back to reading several of the original discussions on the iPhone 3 type phones when they first came out, the phones apparently were designed to do a lot of things back then.


    I think I've found my answers elsewhere, so if this discussion is bothering anyone, I'll drop it here.  I've got way too much reading to do, and I have no intention of changing anything on the phone until I've learned everything about it just the way it is right now.  At least some of my questions have already been answered.





  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    No problem, the point I wanted to make by quoting the Term of Use was, not to discuss Apple policies or decisions in these forums. These discussions are for technical questions and answers.


    If Apple made the iPhone to work that way, we as users have to live with it, or buy another product from a different company.


    Enjoy your new device

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    I agree - no need to discuss Apple policies or decisions, any more than we discuss Nikon policies or decisions on the Nikon camera support forums I participate in.  What support forums should be about is technical questions and answers, as you noted.


    Whether it's a Nikon camera or an Apple phone, it's a tool.  It has built-in capabilities, but what we do with it is up to each of us.  For my entire life, I've been buying various things, and getting them to do what *I* want them to do for me.  Either I accomplish that goal, or I accept the limitations, or I replace the device with something that does what I want. 


    I disagree with the words "have to" in what you wrote:  "If Apple made the iphone to work that way, we as users have to live with it, or buy another product from a different ompany".  There are almost always additional options.  For example, in my case, my phone was purchased from a country where by law, phones have to be sold unlocked, specifically to allow purchasers to use the phone on many different networks, whatever the user may select. 




    I should also add that to me, it's foolish for me to try to get any product to do something before I fully understand the product, and what it was designed to do.  That means I've got four months now to learn what an iPhone 3GS is supposed to be like, before I make my next trip overseas. 


    (I've now got my iPhone on AT&T pre-pay, and my Nokia on T-Mobile.  Unless I find a way to purchase a small data plan on AT&T, which may not be possible, I probably need to swap the SIM cards and put my AT&T card back into my Nokia.)

  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    Apple has always been very strict about the software running on their computers, and, as I see my iPhone, iPad etc, more as a computers, I can understand, that the manufacturer of the computer wants to make sure that only certified software is installed on these devices.


    Does Nikon allow to users to install parts of Canon firmware on their cameras?

    Why has it been so complicated to mount a Canon lens to a Nikon camera body or visa versa?

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    In reverse order, while you can't use Canon lenses on Nikons (because of the sizes of the lenses), adapters such as this one ( allow you to use Nikon lenses on a Canon.  As to firmware modifications, I've never looked into it for Nikon, but CHDK software ( allows you to modify the way Canon cameras perform.  Neither Nikon, nor Canon, nor Leica, nor any other camera company prohibit the use of "outside" gear with their cameras.  It would be like Buick telling customers to only use Buick gasoline.  They certainly recommend that you only use their products though (batteries, flashes, etc.).


    A better answer you might have  explaindiscussed is to explain how the Apple license applies to their phones - when you purchase a new phone and set up all the related software, you agree to abide by Apple license restrictions, etc. in the country within which you purchased the device. 




    I will go along with you in how you relate to your devices.  To me, a smart phone is a tiny computer that also answers phone calls.  What I do with it from that point on, is completely up to me.  Computer manufacturers should certainly be able to recommend that only certified software is installed on the device, but I got involved in computers at a time when computer users were making and modifying their own software.  I stll want to do that.  Maybe I should look into the idea of becoming a developer? 




    I should add that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on that I haven't mentioned here, as it's not really relevant.  I'm trying to develop a kit that will allow the use of any small point-and-shoot camera to take photographs of a person's eye through a "slit lamp" as commonly found in any ophthalmologist's office.  After what seems like ages of development time, it's more or less done.  This has led to the need to adapt the kit to allow the use of an iphone.  I expect to be working on that project in September.  The URL for the discussioin forum about that project is ( if you're interested, but I haven't gotten far enough into the iphone part yet to know what I may or may not need to do with the iphone to get it to work the way I need.  The first step is learn the iphone, which is what I've been doing.

  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    Maybe I should look into the idea of becoming a developer?

    Check the iBook store, there are free books from Apple, for example "iOS Programming",  "iOS Technology Overview" or "iOS Application Programming".

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks again - lots to choose from, including


    Maybe in six months I'll feel comfortable enough with the iphone that I'll be ready for this kind of information.  I'll probably also need to upgrade from my 3GS to one of the newer models.

  • Ingo2711 Level 7 (22,552 points)

    mikemyersN8 wrote:



    I'll probably also need to upgrade from my 3GS to one of the newer models.


    Yes, since the new models can handle more data and have faster processors, this might be necessary too.


    Good luck for your project

  • mikemyersN8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Quick follow-up question.


    I now have my iPhone 3GS working with my Windows Vista PC, with the latest version of iTunes connecting everything as described above.


    I recently got an iPod "Touch" (the older version without a camera, and with a stainless steel back) that has a relative's songs and files installed.


    If I connect it to the same PC that I use to update the iPhone, will the iTunes software recognize it as an additional (not replacement) device?


    If I give it my Apple login and password, will it clear out all the old data on the iPod, and will I be able to do a "sync' that will copy everything to the iPod just as it did with my iPhone?


    From then on, do I still have only one list of "pictures, music, videos, and so on", that will work with both devices, or will I have separate "sync" lists, one for each device?


    Lastly, do I need to go to the "reset" page, and reset everything on the iPod before doing this?  I doubt that I'll have to do this, but I'd like to make sure.



    I followed the advice here, and my "sync" now points to a specific folder on my PC, and those images/folders are what shows up on my iPhone.  I will probably want to do the same thing for the iPod, but most likely with a different folder on the PC.


    Any advice would be appreciated.

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