Users who have had their iPhones repaired by third-party technicians have been facing issues that have left their devices permanently unusable. The problem is called error 53.
These were the users who had the Touch ID on their iPhones repaired by a third-party technician who had not been authorized by Apple, after which they updated the iOS on their devices to the latest version. Now they say that their phone has been bricked which means that the phone has lost all functionality.
The Guardian reports that iFixit’s Kyle Wiens thinks the issue may stem from Apple devices only being compatible with genuine parts. If the phone detects that any of the original components are missing then the error 53 message arises. An Apple spokeswoman expounded on this issue noting that the main function of the error 53 message was to provide protection against possibly malicious components not directly sourced from Apple.
“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorized Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.” She adds: “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorized repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”
Apple has not provided any clarity on the matter of whether or not they can fix the issue which has been encountered by some users as early as iOS 8.3.