Apple’s Error 53 is killing iPhones fixed by third parties

Apple iPhone 6S Touch ID

If you’ve ever damaged your iPhone, you know that Apple charges a bomb to get it repaired or just tells you to replace it. Many people opt to get their phone fixed through a third-party outlet at a fraction of the cost. Those individuals might just end up with a dead handset thanks to an issue called Error 53.

This dreaded warning has been around for a long time, but cases of its happening are mounting day-by-day. Searching around the internet throws up various incidents of it occurring (on places like Reddit and Apple Support forums). The problem could affect anyone who repairs their device through a non-Apple shop and then updates to iOS 9.

If affected, the iPhone flashes an Error 53 screen. The phone is doomed at this point, since there’s no solution to get it running or even to recover data. The most frequently touted reason for this seems to be repairing the home button which has the Touch ID fingerprint scanner component embedded within it.

As reported by The Guardian, some users have also been hit with the issue if they damage their iPhone 6 in any way and continue using it without getting it fixed. Apple has always disapproved of people getting their devices mended through unauthorized shops and Error 53 seems to be its way of getting people to stop seeking outside help.

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An Apple spokeswoman has more or less confirmed this in a statement. She asserts that the company uses a secure enclave to protect data associated with the Touch ID sensor. This connection is re-checked if the iPhone has been repaired in order to see whether a malicious version of the latter has been substituted.

This validation fails if the iPhone has gotten repaired by an unauthorized repair outfit which has fitted it with an invalid unit such as a faulty screen that affects the Touch ID sensor. This leads to the Error 53 warning showing up once the user tries to update or restore their smartphone. She recommends contacting customer support in such a scenario.

What she doesn’t mention is that in most cases, Apple just tells the customer to get a new iPhone since even it doesn’t have a solution for the problem. Apple is known to be a control freak, but deliberately allowing its own products to be bricked easily is too much. The least it could do is warn users of the consequences beforehand.