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
‘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)
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?