Jailbreak and unlock the iPhone on 5.1.1 firmware

Posted: May 26, 2012

Who is this guide for?
  • iPhone 3G S, 4 and 4S only.
  • Must already be on 5.1.1 firmware.
  • For unlocking options view this page.
  • I used OS X 10.7.4.
  • I used iTunes 10.6.1.

Thanks again go out to the Chronic Dev Team and the iPhone Dev Team for getting together and providing this amazing, and FREE program for customizing the iPhone. You can visit the Chronic Dev Team blog, and read their notes regarding this jailbreak here. You can visit the iPhone Dev Team's blog here.

Eventually this jailbreak will be incorporated into the redsn0w program. When it is, I'll create a tutorial for that as well. There is also a CLI version of this program which I will not cover as it is meant for more advanced users and isn't as user friendly.

If you feel this jailbreaking program is helpful to you, then donate to the people that made it. There is a donation link right on the main screen of the program.

I had to use two different Macs before I could get either of these tools to work on two different iPhones! I have no idea what was wrong with the first Mac. A reader told me he wound up creating another partition on his Mac and installing Lion and all the updates and the jailbreak worked for him. I also wound up doing this and this also solved my problem. The error I received was "Error detecting device (lockdown error -5)" or it would just hang at "Waiting for reboot."

If you require an unlock, and you already have unlockable modem firmware, then you must update your iPhone so that the modem firmware is not updated. You can not update using stock Apple firmware or it will update your modem firmware and lock it! I have a factory unlocked iPhone 4S and I no longer worry about unlocks provided by the iPhone Dev Team. These software unlocks only work if you do not update your baseband. Learn more about unlocking the iPhone here.

One last thing before we jump in to the tutorial. Please read my disclaimer before proceeding. You've been advised. What you do to your iPhone is your responsibility and no one else's.

Step 1.

It is recommended that after backing up your iPhone that you use the Erase All Content and Settings feature found on your phone at Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings prior to jailbreaking.

My iPhone was fresh from a restore to 5.1.1. firmware so I didn't do this. You could also use iCloud to backup your iPhone. I don't use iCloud so I can't advise you on how to do this. I've read that some people just updated via iTunes and then jailbroke without issue.

You can back up your iPhone with iTunes by connecting and clicking the Sync button.


Once the restore finished I didn't touch the iPhone or iTunes as far as setting up the iPhone. Once the iPhone had detected the carrier signal I left it alone. This took about a minute.

iPhone       iPhone

Step 2.

Download Absinthe version 2.0.1 (or later) from the Chronic Dev Team here. Decompress the file and icon labeled Absinthe 2.0.1 will appear.


Another window should've opened. Drag the Absinthe.app icon out to your desktop to run it.


Step 3.

Here's some advice from the last version of Absinthe for 5.0.1 firmware. It may still apply:
  • If you have problems, reboot your Mac and rerun Absinthe.
  • You can get real-time chat support in #greenpois0n on irc.chronic-dev.org.
  • Your Camera roll will be empty if the jailbreak does not complete. Rerun the Absinthe jailbreak once to fix this, then run it again to complete the jailbreak.
  • Do not have a passcode set. Disable it before jailbreaking.
  • Do not have your own VPN setup. Absinthe needs to set up its own VPN.
  • If Absinthe crashes, reboot your iPhone and try again.
  • Running Absinthe from Terminal seems to fix issues for some. CD to where Absinthe is on your computer and enter ./Absinthe.app/Contents/MacOS/Absinthe (there is also a 10.5 and 10.6 version of the binary inside.)
  • If you've already jailbroken with previous version of Absinthe and want to jailbreak using a newer version of Absinthe, then you must restore your iPhone first.
Launch the Absinthe program. Your iPhone and installed firmware version will appear. Click Jailbreak.


Your iPhone will appear to be restoring from a back up.


Many messages will appear in the Absinthe program:
  • Connecting to device...
  • Beginning jailbreak, this may take a while...
  • Sending initial data. This may also take a while...
  • Sending final jailbreak data. Your device will appear to be restoring a backup, this may also take a while...
  • Waiting for reboot - not done yet, don't unplug your device yet!
  • Waiting for process to complete...
  • Done, enjoy!


The iPhone will reboot. You'll see a spinning wheel on the iPhone. You'll see the restore progress bar on the iPhone. The iPhone will then boot up. You can now continue setting up the iPhone on the phone and via iTunes.

iPhone       iPhone

Step 4.

You'll see the Cydia icon on your home screen. You are now jailbroken! If you launch Cydia it will first prepare the file system on the iPhone and then close.

iPhone       iPhone

Launching it again you may notice that it has SHSHs on file. In this example it has four. Yours may also say there is a pending TSS request. SHSHs are used for restoring to older firmwares that Apple is no longer approving for installation. Why would you want to restore older firmware? When you mistakenly update your iPhone to firmware that there is no jailbreak for yet. See this tutorial for more information.

Note: When new jailbreak are released Cydia is usually swamped with requests and doesn't work very well. You may want to wait a day or so to minimize issues.

iPhone       iPhone

Step 5.

Next, unlocking the iPhone with ultrasn0w. Press the Search button. Enter ultrasn in the search box and it will appear. Press it.

iPhone       iPhone

Install the program. Reboot when prompted. You are now unlocked.

iPhone       iPhone

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