Initially used in iPhone OS 2.0 beta 4, IMG 3 files were created to address the problems with the older 8900/IMG2 combination. This format was used on all devices using 32-bit processors (S5L8955 (A6X) and earlier). All 64-bit processors (S5L8960 (A7) and newer) use the IMG4 format.

Problems with IMG2

The biggest problem with the 8900/IMG2 format combination was that they all were encrypted with the same key: Key 0x837. IMG3 addressed this glaring security hole by encrypting each payload with its own IV/key. This IV/key pair is stored in the file with the payload, but is itself encrypted with the GID key, a key shared by all devices with the same processor. The GID key is burned into the processor and cannot be accessed directly; Instead, every time the key is needed, the processor will be instructed to use it (at no time providing it to the kernel or user code).

File Format

Despite requiring a bit more to process, at least when compared to the 8900/IMG2 combination, the IMG3 file is quite simple. It consists of a 20 byte header followed by a series of tags, one after the other.

   0  uint32     magic         // '3gmI' ('Img3' in little endian)
   4  uint32     fileSize
   8  uint32     tagsSize      // size of file minus 0x14 header
   C  uint32     shshTagOffset
  10  uint32     ident         // appears to be the same as the TYPE tag's contents
  14  Img3Tag[]  tags


A "tag" is a block of data consisting of a "magic," some info about its size, its (possibly encrypted) contents, and some padding. Each tag serves a unique purpose; For example, the KBAG tag contains the IV and key to decrypt the DATA tag's contents. Not every known tag is present in every firmware file.

   0  uint32     magic
   4  uint32     size     // including header and padding
   8  uint32     dataSize
   C  uint8[]    data     // `dataSize` bytes
????  uint8[]    padding  // `size - dataSize - 0xC` bytes

List of Known Tags

There exist many different tags, each with their own purpose:

  • BORD: Board to be used with
  • CERT: Certificate
  • CEPO: Chip epoch
  • CHIP: Chip to be used with
  • DATA: IMG3 payload
  • ECID: "Exclusive Chip ID"
  • KBAG: The (encrypted) IV/key used to decrypt the payload
  • NONC: Nonce used when the file was signed
  • OVRD
  • PROD: Production mode
  • RAND
  • SALT
  • SDOM: Security domain
  • SEPO: Security epoch
  • SHSH: Encrypted hash of the payload
  • TYPE: Type of image; contains the same value as that in the header's ident field
  • VERS: iBoot version of the image