There has been lots of talk about unlocking iPhone 3GS in recent days using tools like ultrasn0w which is developed by the iPhone Dev Team which has been releasing tools to jailbreak and unlock the latest iPhone firmware and models. But then, George Hotz aka geohot has claimed that his latest software – purplesn0w is a better and easier unlocking tool than ultrasn0w for iPhone 3GS.


Unlocking vs Jailbreaking

There have been many instances where I was asked about how to unlock an iPhone, but in reality, they just wanted to jailbreak it. So what is the big difference between unlocking and jailbreaking? RWW explains like this –

Jailbreaking is simply a type of hack that lets you install unapproved third-party applications on your iPhone or iPod Touch from searchable repositories provided by apps like Cydia and Icy. Unlocking, on the other hand, is a hack that lets you use your iPhone on another cellular network.

So, unlocking essentially lets you put the SIM card of any mobile service provider in your iPhone.

How to unlock iPhone 3GS in 4 simple steps?

Since you will be using purplesn0w to unlock the iPhone, and since it is an unauthorized app, you would first need to jailbreak your iPhone 3GS. i assume you have already done that or else you can read this online tutorial from RWW on how to jailbreak your iPhone OS to 3.0. Use purplera1n software to perform the jailbreak before using purplesn0w.

Important Note: Back up your current iPhone settings before you start off. Just in case something goes wrong horribly, you must be able to restore the device to factory settings.

1. Disable 3G: Go to “Settings” –> “General” –> “Network” and then tap the slider that reads “Enable 3G” to set it to the OFF position. Exit back to the main screen when finished.

2. Add the Geohot Repository to Cydia: Since you have already jailbroken your iPhone, you should have the Cydia app on your iPhone’s screen. Launch the app and select “Manage” from the set of buttons at the bottom of the screen. Tap “Sources” –> “Edit” –> “Add.” Type in and hit “Add Source” when done. Tap the “done” button and exit out of the “Manage” section.

3. Install purplesn0w: Look for “Purplesn0w” using Cydia’s search utility. You’re looking for the package com.geohot.purplesn0w. Once you’ve found that, tap it to see the details. Next, tap the “Install” button and then the “Confirm” button just as if you were installing any other Cydia app. Wait while it installs and watch for the success message output in Cydia. Tap “Return to Cydia” when it’s finished installing and then exit from the Cydia app entirely.

4. Reboot your iPhone: Press the power button until you see the message “slide to power off” appear. Use the slider to power off your device then turn it back on. Once rebooted, your iPhone 3GS will be unlocked!!

That’s quite simple, isn’t it?!


Raju is the founder-editor of Technology Personalized. A proud geek and an Internet freak, who is also a social networking enthusiast. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Mail Raju PP. Follow rajupp


  • Harshad

    Purplesn0w is not recommended. You should use UltrasnOw 0.9 to unlock your device.

    • Raju

      any particular reason? ultrasn0w 0.9 was just released today.

  • Harshad

    PurplesnOw is giving errors to many iPhone users and it’s still in beta version.

  • Sam

    I downloaded purplesn0w in my iphone 3GS but cydia is not getting downloaded? What might be the problem? How can I re do it? is there anyway to uninstall purplera1n and redo it?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Sam

    Is it possible to overlap installing ultrasn0w over purplera1n without messing the iphone since my cydia is not downloading after installing purplera1n. Please advise. thanks.

  • AK

    Unfortunately got it installed on firmware 3.1.2 but no luck unlocking the sim card try another post

  • Pedro

    I just ran purplesnow and my phone blocked on reboot ! I have a brand new 3gs running on 3.1.2 and 05.11.07 baseband, could it be the reason ? Is there any other way around it ? Thanks

    • Raju

      You have to be very careful before you try to jailbreak and unlock. There is no solution yet for baseband 05.11.07, GeoHot is working on it, so you would have to wait

  • budhi

    some body please help me for unlock 3g baseband 05.11.07

  • mikeh

    i downloaded the blackra1n on my 3gs and mistakenly deleted it and now i cant get it back i did steps over and over again without any success

  • Steph

    im putting in the where to add source & its giving me an error, help please :(

  • Cynthia

    I have had my iphone (3gs 16gb) for two week and I took a few pictures that came out great. I downloaded a program (I don’t remember the program off of youtube), that would change my icons and it did. The only problem is that my pictures and any pictures I take now come out blue and as shadows. What can I do to correct this? My iphone is unlocked and jailbroken firmware 3.1.2., I don’t know if I should set it back to the factory setting and unlock and jailbreak it myself. Which really scares me cause I am afraid that I would not get all that I have now or even do it right. Please help!!!!!!

  • Riskan

    I have a operator (Korea Telecom) officially unlocked iphone 3GS 32GB. Am back in India, however when am using my Vodafone SIM here it doesn;t show any network. When I checked in Settings > General > About > [Network – it says Unavailable, Carrier – it says unavailable, However it shows my SIM’s ICCID number].
    Modem Firmware is 5.12.01 .
    Can anyone help me know what is the issue and how to resolve it..

  • Mutyam

    Bought iphone 3gs in china which was having cydia on it with 3.1.2. i mistakenly tried updating on itunes and got error 29 and restoring back to 3.1.2 also failed with error 3194. i Used recbot and now i am getting ‘insert simcard with no lock” message. i think it got locked again. what should i do next. can some one help me understand Please ?

  • dejavu

    Could you please recommend me some tools, methods and sites to unlock iphone 3gs firmware version: 4.0(8A293)

  • VVV

    i hv bought my iphone 3gs from Malaysia… but when i came back to india , i found that my phone is saying. NO SERVICE… i showed it to some people who unlock the phone… They said its not possible to unlock as there is no IMEI no. on the sim tray… u Gt DEFECTIVE piece… is it so???? PLZ HELP ME

  • TG

    when installing this thing it says it cannot connect to internet… i have wifi but nothing else. While downloading it just loose the connection and doesn’t finish. little help would be appreciated.

    • Hari

      update date/time settings in your iphone and try again…

  • Mike

    As of 23-Apr-2011, this doesn’t work on an iPhone 3GS.

  • Nassif

    I jailbroke my iphone then i unlocked it with ultrsn0w but in tetgered mode. I have iphone 3gs 4.2.1. Does ur method provide an untethered unlock? Because everytime whb i have to restart my iphone i have tu use redsnow:s