iOS 9 bricks iPhones repaired with 3rd party Touch ID / Components [Error 53] - iPhoneHeat

iOS 9 bricks iPhones repaired with 3rd party Touch ID / Components [Error 53]

3rd-party repairs provide such repairs that you usually won’t notice the difference and are often way cheaper than getting services from official Apple Stores. But, with iOs 9 update, things seems to be changing. Apple’s iOS 9 software update is reportedly bricking devices that have gone through third-party repairs and some of the components have been replaced with unofficial alternatives.

Many iPhone owners who have had their devices repaired at a 3rd-party center are now encountering an “Error 53” after updating to iOS 9 software releases. The majority of the affected devices are those that have gone through Display replacement that incorporates new Touch ID sensors.

touch id iPhone 6s

The error is reportedly being caused only after the iOS 9 update is installed because users have been using their devices without any problem after getting it repaired from a 3rd party repair center. The moment they install iOS 9, the error 53 popped up, effectively rendering their iPhone useless. Apple has doesn’t provide any prior warning related to the after-effects of third-party component replacement. The user also loses all of his/her data on the device.

Antonio Olmos, a freelance photographer working on an assignment for The Guardian, found it the hard way:

I was in the Balkans covering the refugee crisis in September when I dropped my phone. Because I desperately needed it for work I got it fixed at a local shop, as there are no Apple stores in Macedonia. They repaired the screen and home button, and it worked perfectly.

Olmos kept on using the device without any problem until he went for the iOS 9 update route. He ended up with error 53, Apple could not offer a fix, and he had to get a replacement device for £270. The error 53 seems to be pretty widespread which seems normal given the popularity of the iPhone.

Kyle Wiens of the iFixit says:

The problem occurs if the repairer changes the home button or the cable. Following the software upgrade the phone in effect checks to make sure it is still using the original components, and if it isn’t, it simply locks out the phone. There is no warning, and there’s no way that I know of to bring it back to life.

Apple has responded to The Guardian confirming that the error 53 is real and provides the following explanation:

We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised 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.

When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised 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.

Now it is unclear whether Apple introduced the error 53 to provide more security to the iPhone users, or it’s an attempt to force iPhone users to get their devices repaired only at pricey Apple Stores. Error 53 is not new, but it is only now that media is covering it in greater details and it looks like it is going to cause lots of controversy.

If you’ve encountered “Error 53”, let us know in the comments section below.

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