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Nokia Lumia 920 reportedly gets jailbroken, but there are more questions than answers

File this under wishful thinking, but the venerable Lumia 920 has allegedly been jailbroken. That’s the claim from hacker poandsou and Silen Tech, who have posted a video supposedly demonstrating a Lumia 920 with the jailbreak enabled. For owners of the Lumia 920, or potentially any other Windows Phone 8 device, jailbreaking could bring a new avenue of development and customization, should this claim prove to be viable for the average user.

We should caution that none of this information has been independently verified, so at this time we are taking them at their word. Even if it is true, there are a lot of details that need to be filled in before this can mean anything.

Alleged jailbroken Lumia 920 with three-column layout

The claim

‘Jailbreaking’ is a term with many meanings, though it’s most popularly associated with the iPhone. To jailbreak a Windows Phone would mean that one could install non-approved software onto the device through a third-party “store”. Ideally, it would also mean that you could run a registry editor and modify low-level OS settings that only OEMs have access to.

That is the claim by poandsou and Silen Tech, though unfortunately there are no details on how this has allegedly been accomplished. For instance, if this is some software change (via USB and a PC program), it could mean that any person with a Lumia 920 and some time on their hands could accomplish this feat. On the other hand, if this requires hardware e.g. a JTAG ‘riffbox’, this would significantly impair the widespread ability of regular users to impart this hack.

A video shown below, and a photo have been posted to purportedly demonstrate that this hack has been accomplished. In the video, we see a person walking through the process of unlocking the device, though it is presented in Chinese. In the photo of the jailbroken Lumia 920, we can see it running with three columns of tiles, a feature that can be enabled or disabled via a registry change in Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (it’s disabled in devices that are 5-inches or smaller due to created tiny tiles).

Of course, photos can easily be faked by simply putting a screenshot from a Lumia 1520 onto a Lumia 920 (see our image below)

Potential uses

So what good would a jailbroken phone be? The masterminds behind this effort would like to create a Cydia-like store for Windows Phone. Cydia is an unofficial store for iOS that allows users to install non-Apple approved software that can modify the OS look, feel and function. While piracy is a concern, that is not the goal of the team behind this supposed hack, and in fact they will try to prevent it as much as possible.

The other benefits would be to allow Lumia 920 owners to modify and alter their OS at a deep level, changing Bluetooth stacks, altering phone behavior and of course, enabling things like three columns of tiles. Such an exploit has already been accomplished on the Samsung ATIV S, so some of this is feasible.

But since the details of this jailbreak have yet to be detailed a lot of this remains hypothetical.

Faked Lumia 920 with three column support

Do people want jailbroken Windows Phones?

While jailbreaking sounds like a fun thing to do on smartphones, in reality it is and always will be a niche subculture. Truth be told, most people buy phones without the intention of devoting significant time to improve upon them. Hacking and ‘modding’ is popular with Android, but it’s not really applicable to people buying Windows Phones.

We’ve seen some jailbreaks and unlocking of Windows Phone in the past, namely the Chevron WP7 project years ago (see our ‘homebrew’ coverage). But even when Microsoft assisted with the project, admittedly half-heartedly, the community never really rallied around the idea, and instead seemed content with leaving things be.

If Silen Tech and poandsoul deliver on this project, which they have promised to do so when completed, it remains to be seen if Windows Phone users will engage with this endeavor or leave it to the underground. From past experience, we’re betting on the latter. For now, it's just a lot of smoke, but no fire.

What do you folks think? Breakthrough, bogus or trivial?

Source: Silenstd; via: WPCentral Forums, XDA Forums

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

182 Comments
  • Would love this, if only for the tiles
  • Agreed. If I had 3 columns on my 1020 I would probably not use small tiles at all.
  • Trust me, small tiles work out for me for many popular app that. Don't have live tiles. I place them on the edges for quick thumb access and wide tiles in the middle for live tiles. It makes sense on my 1520.
  • Agreed. I have a screenshot from a 1520 on my phone and it looks fine on my device. Sure, the small tiles are small but they are managable. I want three columns of medium size tiles on my L920.
  • Basically. I love my 95 as it is.
  • Wish my 720 gets 3 rows of tiles too!
  • What would be the perks of this exactly? Just the additional tiles or is there more to it?
  • I should have written a subsection on that called 'Potential uses'. My bad.
  • Lol
  • hahahaha.  Daniel's middle name should be PWN.
  • Haha, that gave me a great laugh!
  • way, way more. exactly? too many to describe. you ever play around with any ROMs on Android or anything?
  • Although photos can be edited, It is much harder to edit every frame of a video.
  • Internet tethering without going through your carrier would be one. You could save on tethering costs.
  • This...this is really all I want
  • This so bad.....
  • This is the biggest reason why I would jailbreak my phone.
  • And you would accomplish this how? because your carrier would suddenly stop metering your usage when you jailbrake a phone? 
  • No, the carriers would not stop metering you but you can get around the block that prevents you from using your own data plan for tethering.  As it stands now, the carriers charge more for you to turn your phone into a mifi.  If you barely use your data account but want to tether your phone, you're going to have to pay extra for it.  It doesn't matter how much data you've used.  If you have unlimited data like me you could also benefit. I'd say this is the number one feature I miss about jailbreaking my old iPhone.
     
  • Or you could just switch to T-Mobile and have tethering included. :p
  • Or could be like me in Canada and not have the option of T-Mobile...unlimited plan with no tethering. This alone would benefit me. Let alone the 3 tile option on the 1020 would be nice
  • Included on at&t too, unless you have older plans.
  • You pay for tethering? On all four of my bell lines that I have signed up over the years none of them charger for tethering.
  • neither Rogers or Telus in Canada have any effect on my ability to use internet sharing on any of my Windows Phones.
  • Many carriers have control over wheather or not you can enable tethering. You wouldn't be be getting around metering. You would just have the ability to enable it. Data used would still go against your data plan.
  • Oh I wasn't refering to being metered but just the privilage of using it. I haven't seen any of the big three charge for teathering access here in Vancouver for a couple years now. What I've only seen is the extra $5-10 charge to group all data usage into one big pot for mutille lines in an account
  • THIS...  A million times...  It's the biggest thing keeping from using WP on my personal line right now.  Until my carrier gives me a reason (or forces me) to switch off my unlimited data plan, this will be an issue.  What really burns me is that I'd gladly switch to a tiered plan if I could get the same amount of data (since "Unlimited" = 5gb before throttling) for the same price.  Instead, I'm supposed to pay $20/month more only to gain tethering and the added "benefit" of being charged should I exceed 5gb?  I've always said that the best way for them to get folks off the unilimited plans would have been to offer an equivalent cost & allotment plan for a short time to folks willing to switch. I honestly don't tether much on my personal line since I have "sanctioned" tethering on my work phone, but I don't always carry that one after hours, and I try to watch too much "non-business" tethering on the work line.  Having it as an option on the personal line lets me distribute the data load.  There have been ways to work around the restrictions on pretty much every other platform (iOS & Android via JB/Root, BBOS via BT DUN, WebOS via FreeTether, etc).  Ugh...  I love WP, too.
  • This would be enough to bring me in. If ROMs became available like in the WM days that would be cool. It was not difficult at all to load new ROMs. The hard part was determining which chefs to trust.
  • My favourite use for jailbreaking on the iphone (with the exception of making it a usable phone) is a location faker, so i can use location based apps (like grindr etc) and change my location to somewhere else... Perhaps somewhere I will be later :)
  • How about other form of the tiles, i.e star or round or triangle ? Or maybe disabling the search button which I very often hit while gaming or doing some tasks.
    Better music manager, and whoa... A file manager? How about a better multitasking?
  • What I want is for the search button to find local content and apps, like make it how it is in W8
  • I think it's better if the search button could be changed,to be a multitasking button is what I thought,and the tiles like wm6.5is cool too
  • I only perk i can think of immediately IMHO, Is the ability to store application data on an SD Card... That is one of the biggest set backs of WPhones. Kind of regret switching because of it.. but this is why people jailbreak shizz..
  • I want 8 tile columns.
  • Go home louisoneal. You're drunk.
  • A measly 8? Uh uh, nope I want 15
  • Not 1020 then?
  • Yup Nokia makes that.. 2520
  • I want 1 tile columns.
  • I want different shapes of tiles
  • A circle O_o
  • This would be great! Hope it's real and wll be released to the GP.
  • I would do it for the 3 columns of tiles.
  • I only wish a wallpaper for my start screen, getting bored with plain black or white.
  • Wallpaper for WhatsApp sounds good. The start screen though? Not so much..
  • I want a wallpaper behind the times and the tiles need to be translucent
  • I'll admit I would like this....depending on how well it could be tweeked...
  • Yeah me too, although it has more than 6,800 votes on the window phone uservoice
  • It seems u have such a long image for making it background for your start screen. Lol.
  • Rooting or jail breaking shouldn't be needed on a phone (IMHO), as it opens up the capabilities of your phone to non-suspecting programs, malware, and poorly-generated code in apps that can render a device useless because of software trouble. While I wouldn't mind some hacks within Windows Phone itself (three rows of tiles), it's precisely this reason I ditched Android. Why? Because to have a functional phone (i.e., without all the bloatware installed by carriers), it required a different ROM. Windows Phone is functional just like it is...and I like that. :)
  • It shouldn't be required, but WP is currently a) so restricted that some functions are literally broken, and b) Microsoft is so glacially slow about updates that you would be forgiven for thinking that Nokia is in charge of WP development.   Some of us would like workarounds for the broken parts, at least until microsoft or nokia addresses them.
  • So for a phone that is still lacking in apps, compared to iOS and Android, you make it a phone that can load unoffical apps that are not being created by anyone since they are so busy not creating offical apps at this time.    
  • First ... to view i think .  Is it possible to add background image afetr jailbreak ??
  • Like the Photos area? Awesome.
  • You can do that now with a favourite.
  • It seems really exciting... :D
    Can I download it from anywhere?
    And if i download it, will I lose the warranty ?:O
  • Yes, anytime u jailbreak anything, you void the warranty.
  • F*ck off! :\ :DD
  • Yes in general this is true, but no one has any warranty left on their 920.
  • No, I have... yet...xD
  • Anyone who bought the phone in the EU has at least another year left on their warranty.
  • Yes, we"ve got 2 years.. :)  
  • Didn't know that. That's awesome!
  • I still have 1 year and 4 months left. :)
  • I've got about 1 year and 6/7 months.. :D
  • Depends.... If you do a hardware mod, yea, no question, you void your warranty BUT, if you do a software mod, that can be undone, then it's possable your warrany would still be valid.   So, it's a maybe, but, it depends on what happpens...
  • Nokia extended mine to dec 2014 due to issues with lumia 800
  • Hell yeah! I NEED my phone to TO be the way IT needs to BE.
  • I would like to test 3 tiles rows/columns on my L820..
  • Tethering.....TETHERING.
  • Yeah what he said.
  • You can use tethering without jailbreak, you just have to change your rom to a generic one.
  • +920
  • Why a 5 I don't get it. The video seems legit since you can see tiles flipping right there!
    A wallpaper coudn't it seems to me that you just don't want to accept it ;)
  • I am happy with what I have now !!
  • I would do it for the third column on the startscreen.
  • Only 920 for now according to the jailbreak website, and it will be a while before the team release the jailbreak tool. They want developers to develop apps for the jailbroken devices before releasing the jailbreak tools. Love to try the 3 columns of tiles and being able to access all the system folders from PC. According to the jailbreak website, the jailbreak is real and a lot of Chinese media have covered the story and many developer devices have already been jailbroken and are developing apps. The jailbreak tool according to the website is very easy to use, plug in your device using USB, launch the app and one click you are done.
  • I would do this just for 3 columns of tiles. (I know this has been said already but perhaps someone at Microsoft is listening, I can hope can't I)
  • Don't care about jail breaking, but I would love to have the extra tiles on my 1020 like on the 1520
  • Wish Microsoft only gets 3tile update on l92* series before jail breaking
  • Don't bother. The Lumia 950 will be released 23rd May 2014 Specs below: 4.5inch screen
    Dual sim
    Dual operating system (android/windows)
    128gb internal storage
    Dual Sd slot 128gb
    3gb Ram
    5000mah
    The release venue will be in London on the date above.
  • You have much to learn about trolling.
  • Go home GrapeEyes, your drunk!
  • Go home walter1832 , you're drunk!
  • Not even believable...
  • How much for the optional backplate with Flux Capacitor?
  • That made me LOL on the ROFL.
  • Why would it be called a Lumia if it dual boots android by design?
    Microsoft and google aren't simpatico atm. 4.5" is too small for the rest of the specs. Hope its 5.2" with 1 mm bezel at the sides 16:10.. 2K amoled.
  • Ha ha ha dual sim .. Rofl ... Lmao... Dual sd card ... Epic part ... N most of it 5000mah ... GrapeEyes have u got any sense's left :P
  • as the saying goes, " Unless you're Google, stop acting like you know everything. " 
  • Tethering? Yes that but i want a bleeding file explorer! Would love for this to be true! :D
  • I look forward to the details being detailed. ;)
  • And want a lumia 950 too! Don't get my hopes up lol
  • I can get my native file manager and the ability to move stuff around the phone freely.
  • Don't care about this crap! Just give me Update 3 + Lumia Black for my 925 and I'll be in heaven.
  • Personally I am not interested in jailbreaking any phone. Instead, if I do have iPhone I will not jailbreaking them. I love WP as it intend to be.
  • I like the term "Unlocked" better than "Jailbroken". That's such an Apple related term.
  • +1520 But the 'unlocked' term is more SIM related IMO.
  • we used to have our OWN term WindowsBreak which unlock Samsung Phones
  • Interop unlock or full unlock
  • dude u don't have any idea about what are u talking about here
  • I picked WP *precisely* because it was not hackable. I need my phone to just work, and I don't want to be tempted to "tweak it till it breaks".
  • Same here, I've killed so many phones like that lol.
  • I say this is fake. the 920 has a resolution of 768x1280, the 3 rows of tiles is specifically for a resolution of 1080x1920. 
  • It may be fake but not for the reason you specify. Number of columns has already been reported to not be dependent on resolution.
  • AKA: ATIV S.... Same screen res as the 920/928 but, they modded it to do the 3 rows...As I understand, it's a registry key that needs to be changed, if this unlock is true, then everyone can do this change and enjoy it, IF they want it..
  • The Samsung Ativ S has a 1280x720 display, and it runs perfectly with the three column tiles. Therefore, your argument is invalid.
  • I want this on my 1020 just for the extra tiles. I really wish MS would let us decide if the small tiles are to small.
  • I really expect that they will, eventually... after all, they allow the choice on Windows 8.1/RT 8.1. If you go to Settings > PC > Display, there's an option there to allow high res, and also in the Personalization swipe from the home screen there's an option to show more tiles. It seems inevitable that this will appear at some point on WP.
  • When the jailbreak is released, only software will be needed, no need to modify hardware...and the team behind it is against piracy so it may take some time for the jailbreak to be available publicly.
    As far as I now, there is more than just one team/dev doing the jailbreaking stuff, some will come really soon, even before this jailbreak come, different team provide different way of jailbreak, but they will simplify it with a PC software one click jailbreak. I'm not one of them, but I do help in some of their development process (not the Chinese team above), and the jailbreak will come next year feb, and our jailbreak doesn't just target on 920 but all Lumia except the latest 1520
  • Then the pirates will jailbreak your jailbreak!
  • If I get three wide tiles on my 928, I'll gladly flash it with CFW or what have you.
  • I want the email address key in the keyboard. Hate typing my email id everytime. Hope this jailbreak allows adding alphabet,number & symbol combo to the predictive text word bank.
  • Perhaps if they jailbreak it they can show Microsoft how to improve the OS way faster. That said, this is something I'm not into. Let me know when they manage to put Android on a Lumia. That may interest a lot more people I think.
  • Not poeple on this site though
  • Curious people in general and many people in the jailbreak community. And I think there are many people here who would like to thinker with that too (or place WP on a Xperia Z1 for example).
  • You're still here?
  • When 8.1 is released, we will have the ability to have three columns. I just showed this to a Microsoft employee and he said in the pic he sees 8.1 on the Nokia Lumia 920
  • The about screen clearly showed 8.0 as the version number...
  • 3 columns layout was supposed to be a feature in Windows Phone 8.0 GDR3, but Microsoft couldn't get it to work on devices with smaller screen sizes without problems. This feature would very likely come to WP8.1 so it's more a reaction you shouldn't take litterly, he ment that it's the interface of WP8.1, he didn't ment it's the actual OS.
  • Joe Belfiore already said that, thank God, three columns will NOT be put in
  • Not needed
  • As is your comment.
  • Personally having jail broken iphones and messed around with custom roms from wm 6.x days and then android I've grown out of it. But if im dying from extreme boredom I might get myself an ativ s and check out the interop unlock. I wouldn't dare mess up my L920... took me so long to save the cash lol as it is the first phone I have paid full price for and bought shortly after release.
  • I would love my podcasts to be able to be downloaded to the music library, so they get stored on the SD card. I don't need a file explorer per say, but if I could just store my media on the SD card as advertised I'd be well on my way to happin