/ Technology

Update: Has ‘Error 53’ rendered your iPhone 6 useless?

An Apple iPhone doesn’t come cheap. So you might be a bit miffed if your beloved handset broke. But what if your iPhone was left unusable after updating to the latest software? That’s reportedly happened to thousands of owners of repaired iPhone 6’s.

‘Error 53’ has been in the news over the weekend, reportedly affecting iPhone 6 owners who’ve had their broken handset fixed by an independent repairer. The error occurs after the latest software update is installed (iOS 9), with affected phones being left unusable and all data reportedly being wiped from the device too.

So what’s going on? The error specifically relates to the iPhone’s home button, which features touch ID fingerprint recognition. When owners have visited independent repairers to get their home button fixed,

‘Error 53’ has been introduced after updating to iOS 9, ultimately ‘bricking’ their phones. The error has also apparently affected handsets with a damaged home button, not just those that have had this damage repaired.

Error 53 bricking iPhones

The freelance photographer Antonio Olmos told The Guardian:

‘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.’

When Antonio was alerted to update his iPhone to the latest software, he accepted without hesitation, which is when he was greeted by ‘Error 53’.

Apple has explained that the software update was for security measures, stating that:

‘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.’

Essentially the error seems to be an intended consequence of the new update, rather than a bug.

iPhone 6 fix

This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has suffered a backlash from software updates. At the end of last year, disgruntled iPhone 4s users hit Apple with a $5m lawsuit in the US after iOS 9 left their phones unbearably slow.

Software updates slowing devices is something that certainly rang true with our own research. When we tested 26 smartphones and tablets, we found that 24 of them suffered degradation, such as reduced storage, slower speeds and battery life.

So I’m not all that convinced that ‘Error 53’ will slip away all that easily.

Have you experienced ‘Error 53’ on your iPhone? Did you get an independent repair? Have you been in touch with Apple – what happened? We’d love to hear from you.

[UPDATE 19 FEBRUARY 2016] – Apple has released a fix for ‘Error 53′, restoring customers’ bricked iPhones. The company told Techcrunch:

‘Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.

‘Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.

‘We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.’

Apple has published help on its website if you’ve been affected by Error 53.


All phones, tablets and computers should be designed to allow the user to revert to the previous version if there is a problem with a software update. That might be a challenge for those that produce the software but it needs to be done.

The effect of third party repairs and other modifications will be hard to predict for Apple or other manufacturers but as soon as the problem is recognised, users should be informed that an update could cause a problem.

I wonder what Apple does if an owner contacts them because their phone shows ‘Error 53’.


Just recently updated my software package for one of my users. He rang to tell me one particularly used program looks “different”.
I told him how to revert to his pre-update version and he’s happy. This is not a difficult requirement so wavechange, you are correct. They should permit this.


Your iphone goes faulty -you go to get it repaired and cant find an Apple Store so a third party repairs it and it works until—- you update to a newer version 0f iOS or attempt to restore your phone from a back up the software checks to see the Touch ID sensor matches the rest of the hardware –if it doesnt your phone is bricked ! even a screen replacement triggers it , or the ribbon cable -Solution ? head to an Official Apple Store (if you can find one ) and pay -out -of warranty – repair charges of £200 or more . —- Apple statement== quote– WE take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers , checks are automatically made that the Touch sensor correctly matches your device,s other components .IF iOS finds a mis-match then Touch ID and Apple Pay is disabled . This security measure is necessary to protect a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used . End of quote.


Apple could of course bypass the security aspect to some extent and disable Applepay facility whilst leaving all other functions operable providing the customer provides some authorisation for such.

I own a second-hand 4S. If I had a later model with fingerprint technology and wished to seel it to somebody else their fingerprint wouldn’t match.

I guess tehrefore thre has to be a facility to amend the recognised fingerprint. If that’s the case it kind of negates Apple’s argument that they are disabling the entire ‘phone for their “customer’s security”.

Smike says:
9 February 2016

Clearly grounds for a class action against arrogant Apple for this ‘Restraint of Trade’ action.


Smike – I actually agree with you they are hiding behind the statement they made in my post above , its the same as the government saying we have to spy on you all 24/7 because of “terrorism ” – we arent all terrorists but they do it anyway . They clearly are restricting trade of third party repairers , but BT lost out on this line and unbundling was introduced so its down to a judge as to whether the contract when you buy from Apple states = WE –(Apple) have exclusivity in the repair and maintenance of the product we are selling you , IF it doesnt say that then all they have done is make a statement as to its use without it being backed up in legal terms .

Jack says:
9 February 2016

I have owned numerous iPhones for many years, as have my partner and mother. We own numerous iPads plus an iMac and have always been very happy with Apple products and their service. We’ve spent a huge amount of money on Apple products.

Late in 2015, I accidentally damaged the screen on my iPhone 6. I called Apple to book a repair but due to the iPhone 6S launch they were unable to offer me an appointment in under 2 weeks in any 3 of the stores that are within 30 miles of here. Phone and mobile internet are absolutely essential to my business so I was forced to get my iPhone 6 screen replaced by a local phone repair shop. At the time the shop clearly explained that their repair would invalidate the Apple warranty which I accepted as I urgently needed a working phone. My iPhone 6 worked perfectly for months until yesterday when I decided to update the operating software. The update failed, throwing up the error 53 message. I retried the update numerous times but eventually realised that my phone was paralysed and I wasn’t even able to restore it to its previously working state.

Before contacting Apple, I searched online for error 53 and was horrified to see global press coverage on this matter. I then realised my phone had been bricked because of a third party repair. I contacted Apple support who then told me I would need to pay $299+ tax for an out of warranty repair. I then contacted my network here in the UK (EE) who the phone is on contract with, but they weren’t interested and referred me back to Apple.

I totally accept that third party repairs will invalidate Apple warranty but actually destroying my property just doesn’t seem right. I think this will mean the end of my entire family’s relationship with Apple and I’m hoping Apple face legal action over this.


Jack -do you own an Apple computer ,if so you can “get your own back ” on Apple . If you use the =Ai Type keyboard , if not download it from Apple Store -open settings app NOT the keyboard app click on -Look +Feel butt