Users worldwide are reporting a mysterious Error 53 that is rendering their iPhones useless. The error seems to be affecting iPhones that have suffered damages and in cases where users have got them repaired from third-party service centers, especially repairs that involve replacing the home button that also has the Touch ID fingerprint sensor or replacing the display. The error seems to be affecting only iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users at the moment though the jury is still out. Also Read - New iPhone SE to be the most affordable 5G phone from Apple, to launch in 2022
Users who have experienced Error 53 claim that their iPhones worked properly after the repair was done but got bricked with Error 53 only after they updated their device to the latest iOS version, the Guardian reports. Also Read - iPhone 13 launch date and more details tipped as part of new leaks
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When Apple had first launched Touch ID, it had stressed how it did not store any fingerprint information on its servers and had instead created a secure enclave inside the device itself, which was isolated from any other hardware to keep the information secure.
Every Touch ID sensor is paired with a single iPhone to ensure it cannot be used on any other device. This is done to ensure that the secure element of the chip remains so and information is not leaked via a hardware hack.
When the Touch ID sensor is replaced at an Apple service center, the technician ensures that the new Touch ID sensor is paired with the iPhone to ensure the security of data. However, that isn’t possible at non-Apple certified service centers.
While the iPhone works flawlessly after the Touch ID sensor is replaced, Apple rechecks the security whenever a new iOS update is installed on the device. Devices with unauthorized Touch ID sensors fail the tests, which renders the device bricked. Apart from losing the device, users are also complaining that their data is non-recoverable either. There are lengthy threads around Error 53 on Apple’s discussion forums.
Don’t get your iPhone serviced from unauthorized service centers
Apple too has a dedicated page for Error 53, where it clarifies what’s happening.
“If your iOS device has Touch ID, iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor matches your device’s other components during an update or restore. This check keeps your device and the iOS features related to Touch ID secure. When iOS finds an unidentified or unexpected Touch ID module, the check fails. For example, an unauthorized or faulty screen replacement could cause the check to fail,” Apple says.
The problem arises when it comes to getting your data back. Any device repaired from an unauthorized service center is immediately deemed out of warranty and it is not Apple’s responsibility any longer.
“If the screen on your iPhone or iPad was replaced at an Apple Service Center, Apple Store, or Apple Authorized Service Provider, contact Apple Support. If the screen or any other part on your iPhone or iPad was replaced somewhere else, contact Apple Support about pricing information for out-of-warranty repairs.” the website continues.
“We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components. If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support,” Apple said in an emailed statement to BGR India.
Why do users go to unauthorized service centers?
Many claim that this could be Apple’s latest ploy to ensure users don’t go for third-party after-sales service and are instead forced to use Apple’s own repair service. Even knowing that their device would be out of warranty if they go through an unauthorized service center, why do users still do that?
The answer is that Apple’s service charges are expensive. In many cases Apple does not even offer to repair the device and insists on getting it replaced.
BGR India reached out to an authorized Apple service center in Delhi to check how much would it cost to get a broken display replaced on the iPhone 6. Guess what, Apple does not replace the display and instead makes users replace the entire phone for Rs 23,166.
Most third-party repair centers replace broken displays for under Rs 10,000. Since it is physical damage, the device is already out of warranty. So the user ends up saving a lot of money.
Why the outrage over Error 53?
So you have violated Apple’s terms and conditions by getting the phone repaired from an unauthorized service center. It is no longer Apple’s responsibility and it had warned you of dire consequences. So why the outrage?
It is a bit more than that. What users have been warned is their devices would be out of warranty if they get it serviced from anywhere else apart from Apple and its authorized partners. What users are finding hard to digest is that Apple seems to be checking whether devices have been repaired outside and bricking them intentionally.
After all, their iPhones were working perfectly after the repair until they updated their device with the latest OS update. Does that mean that their iPhones were insecure all this time between when it was repaired and when the OS was updated? Especially considering that Touch ID is also used for services like Apple Pay. Why doesn’t Apple give any warning to users?
Why does Apple have to brick the entire phone, when it can simply disable Touch ID as a feature when it detects any unauthorized Touch ID related hardware? Why does it have to wipe off the user’s data from the device? After all, setting up Touch ID requires the user to set up a PIN as a fall back. Let them use that and disable Touch ID completely.
What is the solution for Error 53?
If you have got your home button or display replaced from a third-party service center, ensure that you keep the original components with you. These could come handy. However, for the time being do not install any iOS update.
If you break your iPhone’s home button, do not get it repaired from a third-party. If Apple’s rates are expensive or you don’t have access to an authorized service center, use the on-screen accessibility button to keep using your iPhone without the home button. Else go to an Apple service center and get it fixed or replaced.