How to unlock iPhone 3GS on iOS 5 and 5.0.1

If you've updated your iPhone 3GS to iOS 5 or 5.0.1 and lost your unlock we can help you get it back. The actual jailbreak will be tethered but you'll still be able to unlock and continue using your device in the mean time until an untethered jailbreak solution is released. iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users should steer clear of this as it will not work.

Devices supported

  • iPhone 3GS

What you'll need

  • RedSn0w 0.9.9b5 or later, we recommend the most current version which is RedSn0w 0.9.9b8 - Mac Link, Windows Link
  • A working SIM card (doesn't matter what carrier as long as it's activated and working)

Jailbreak with RedSn0w and Install the iPad baseband

You'll follow the same steps are you would to jailbreak via Redsn0w except for one difference. Instead of just checking Install Cydia you'll need to check off Install iPad baseband. RedSn0w will warn you that this can not be undone. Agree and continue the jailbreak process.

Boot Tethered

After jailbreaking you'll need to perform one tethered boot before unlocking. Simply launch RedSn0w again and click Extras. Check the box for Just boot tethered right now. You'll be walked through DFU mode and your phone should reboot.

Install UltraSn0w

After your phone reboots you'll need to perform the following steps to unlock it:

  • Open Cydia and search for ultrasn0w
  • Install the ultrasn0w package to your device.
  • After installation is complete your phone should automatically ask you to reboot it. If it doesn't, reboot it manually.
  • You'll need to jump into RedSn0w one more time and perform a tethered boot like you did above.
  • Your phone should now be unlocked. It may say Searching... for a few minutes before finally connecting to the network.
  • Known Issues

    A few users have seen issues where their phone will not obtain service after using ultrasn0w on iOS 5 or iOS 5.0.1. If you have this issue, launch RedSn0w once more and choose jailbreak again. Instead of going through the whole process this time, you only want to check Deactivate. Do one more tethered boot and you should be good to go!

    If you need more help, visit our TiPb jailbreak & unlock forums for answers to many common questions and to ask your own!

    Update: Some users are pointing out that using RedSn0w 0.9.9b8 is breaking GPS functionality again but using RedSn0w 0.9

    Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

    Allyson Kazmucha

    Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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    Reader comments

    How to unlock iPhone 3GS on iOS 5 and 5.0.1


    2 hrs ago the post read "3G and 3GS". Looks like they removed the 3G reference without noting the update.

    What's your experience with using the Semi-Tethered package from Cydia? It seems to allow you to boot the device back into a functioning without tethering, even though Cydia and some other things don't work. Has anyone tried this?

    Does the iPad baseband still cause issues with GPS or has that been resolved? Any other functionality issues?
    I'm currently on 5.0.1 jailbroken and untethered on my old bootrom 3GS. Do I just run redsn0w and only select the iPad baseband function, I assume?
    I'm traveling internationally next month, so an unlock would be great!

    I've used this guide and it worked for me you just got to fallow every step and make sure u have downloaded the right ipsw.

    Will this work on an IPhone 3GS with a SIM card that has already been deactivated? I've upgraded to a new phone but want to unlock the old one to sell.

    I have a new bootroom 3GS running 5.0.1 I have installed redsnow 0.9.9b8 and the 5.0 and 5.0.1 ipsws. When I try to jailbreak it gives me " ipsw not supported by redsnow". I have also tried snow breeze and get the same thing. I am leaving AT&T for t mobile and need to get jailbroken ASAP! I have tried everything I can think of, please help!

    It looks like you may be dragging the wrong IPSW file into Redsn0w. Or perhaps attempting to load back into it, an IPSW file that it already created. I would suggest that you re-download the orignial file, and load it into Redsnow when prompted.

    It's not working for me. I installed the iPad baseband (it shows 06.15.00 in About -> Modem Firmware), booted, installed ultrasnow, booted again, put in SIM but it didn't work. Then I tried Deactivate, which guided me to the iOS setup screens (I had to put in my old AT&T SIM to get past this step since the new one wouldn't activate) ... then I booted again, but I still see No Service. Any ideas? What else can I try?

    I did the Deactivate step ... now it's stuck on "Activating your iPhone" and it won't activate with my old (inactive) AT&T sim or with a new SIM. Meanwhile, my iPhone can't even be used in Airplane mode like before. Any tips on how to get it past the activation step (just to use it in Airplane)?

    i follow the steps and it was ok until jailbroken is installed and now my device stuck on restart screen after the apple logo and i cant do a thing :-( help please....

    I jailbroke and unlocked my 3gs (old bottom) from 5.0 and it was working. I mistakenly upgraded to 5.01 and lost my unlock. All attempts to re-break and unlock fail (using redsn0w 0.9.9b8) with the message:
    "Unrecognized build. Fingerprint: 38b5..........."
    What do I do now? Thanks.

    I did all the steps but when I open cydia I have problems with repo666 that said fetch faile what can I do

    You guys are awsome, Its Genius's like you that make the world a better place, I uploaded my software here in Costa Rica and no one or place said they could set it to work with the carrier here, i followed your instructions promptly and vuola. Thanks again. Greatly apreciate this.

    Hi,some question I wan to ask~ my 3GS with BB 5.13.04~ and now stay on iOS 4 with unlock now~ should I update my BB to iPad BB? Or I just need to custom the ipsw then update to ios5.0.1 without update my baseband?@@" need help here plz.....

    You are a diamond!!! Was stuck with no service for days after a failed attempt. Restored through iTunes using standard method NOT custom ipsw and followed these instructions. And i used redsnow 0.9.9b3 Works an absolute treat!!! 3gs

    Now that there is an untethered jailbreak on redsnow for 5.0.1, can I just go into redsnow and choose the ipad baseband and then follow these instructions to unlock my 3gs on baseband 05.16.05?

    I tried but got an error sayin something that i probaly missunderstood the instructions or something. I think I did as instructed bu now my phone is dead. Won't start or anything. Is there anything I can do or is my loss?

    Now that the new red snow came out with the untethered jailbreak is there a way to do this with the untethered jailbreak?

    i have a 3GS with 05.16.05 BB and has a new bootrom, problem is, it does not have any service at all, i've read from forums that having a new bootrom is a deciding factor on getting the ipad BB, which in my case, they say is not recommended, please help!

    So does this work at all ? Cause i dont want to be updating my iPhone and find out the sources are not working .. Please reply back asap .. Thanks :)

    Thanks for the share. I unlocked my iPhone through Remote unlock system from at affordable cost. I got easy step by step instructions on unlocking process.

    Hi actually I did all the steps but my iPhone 3GS stopped working when I made just reboot from redsnow it' seems damaged with no service. Then when I chose the second option on the redsnow to put it in the dfu mode to connect it to iTunes and make restore it gave me a message that said there is unknown error and the restoring could not be complete error no -1 then my iPhone doesn't work. What should I do ?

    Ive gone to follow the instructions and it warns me that baseband is not compatible with week 35 of 2011 or newer. And that i should not proceed. My unit is newer so will this not work or can i ignore it?

    Did anyone ever reply to this? I also have the new Iphone 3GS with 3rd, 4th, and 5th serial number > 135. So... would this work?
    Thanks everyone!

    Does my iPhone need to be not in derive when I try to jailbreak/unlock it to go to another service provider?

    i updated my iphone 3gs to version 5.o.1 via ituens unknownly. Now its nt activating. Can anyone help me to recover back or unlock the phone???????

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    Hi ! I'm writing here to share my unlock experience : I've done it with Solar Mecano. My Iphone was unlocked in a few days. The service is fast and reliable. Don't hesitate if you have any questions.

    Great information here - i did exactly as described update my iPhone 3gs that was happily running my giffgaff sim :) ......these instructions look straight forward unlike the many other 1000's out there!


    if you guys want to unlock anything locked to ATT, you can check out attiphoneunlocking, its a great site, i have been using it for years