/ 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.

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
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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’.

Profile photo of MikeCunliffe
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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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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.

Profile photo of MikeCunliffe
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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”.

Member
Smike says:
9 February 2016

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

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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 .

Member
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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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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 button -red rectangle on the main screen -settings tab will open showing many features in the free version as being locked -clicking on them brings up -payment -click on link that is right on top that reads =Restore Previous Purchases-a dialogue box will appear and ask if you want to restore all the previous purchases -DONT click on yes/no when it appears just close the app and that does NOT mean you have to press the home button once –Press it twice to open multi window option and then close the app there itself -it will open again just like the first time . Once again click on Look +Feel button -the same red red rectangle -you will now see all the features that were previously locked have now become unlocked – The best third party keyboard app for iOS just becomes completely free and downloads to the app dont require an Apple ID . Hope this will make you feel better Jack and all you posters who are angry with Apple.

Member
Clare says:
9 February 2016

Can they do this?! Is it legal for them to disable a customer’s device with a software update for having an ‘unauthorised’ repair? This is a serious question. It’s surely an issue of competition law as well as consumer rights.

It makes my blood boil that Apple (having made a fragile product in the first place) thinks they have the SOLE right to repair it at whatever exorbitant cost they please, and if you use a competitor or (shock horror) buy the special screwdriver and do it yourself, they brick your device. It implies an belief that Apple, not the customer, has the right to ‘authorise’ repairs of the device the customer paid for.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Clare I have been on several websites that outline and also give the full terms of use none of them mention this new “amendment ” either in or out of warranty . What they do say is if outside the warranty that they are not happy with cheap repairs of $ 40/$50 and say you should get it repaired at authorised repair centres . What was happening in the US was that ,if you chatted up the Apple repair centre staff they would repair it for nothing but that was coming to an end (2013 ) as it was getting abused . Must be getting “hard-nosed ” now.

Member
David Mills says:
10 February 2016

iPhone ‘Error 53’ seems to be where the iPhone becomes locked if the touch sensitive home button or other security sensitive components appear to be tampered with.
Whilst this is upsetting for anybody affected by data loss, it is these anti-tampering measures that protect the phone from misuse if stolen. What’s the point of having a security feature that can be disabled by replacing parts? The situation is similar to a modern vehicle where several key components are all synchronised to each other and to the vehicles identification number. If one of these components must be replaced, an authorised repairer will need to resynchronise the components to allow the new part to be recognised. Only then will the engine start.
So thank you Apple for protecting my photographs, my credit card details and my Which password; which in the event of hardware failure are all safely backed up.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Tampered with David ?? Did you read my post that it was a case of people getting their phone repaired by a business that does repairs-is advertised as such – is available to the owner ,unlike a local Apple store . and there is NO conditions of service in all the full contract that I have read stating the customer cant do this —- up to now . That this is an Arbitrary statement of conditions of service that hasnt yet been incorporated into the customers buying contract. AS such customers do have a right of complaint if you do not agree show me ,up to now , where legally you can prove a different legal scenario ? . We are also talking restriction of the ability to seek third party help thats called a monopoly ,something that has been fought against and won in courts throughout the world.

Member
David Mills says:
10 February 2016

No Duncan, I didn’t read your post.

Member

The wider issue here is what an upgrade does or does not do to the performance of all technology. Has nobody thought that, for example, all Windows needs to do is build a ‘slow down’ feature into any one of their regular updates thereby persuading you that perhaps your device/computer is getting life-expired and you need a new one. And new device = more income for the company that owns the OS?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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AI – the Chairman of the Board of Apple is Arthur Levinson who owns 1,138,886 shares who funnily enough is also CEO of Calico an “independent ” company established by Google the number one -how to make money out of the public (via third party sales of customers info ) , billion $$$$ multi-national company .

Profile photo of Ian
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Bob Igor is Apple’s Chair. Levinson is the former chair.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Ian , I hope your op was a success ? If you read my post I said Levinson is Chairman of The Board that is correct – Robert A Iger is Apple Chairman -latest info straight from Apple,s own business info website .Levinson still holds the largest share issue .

Profile photo of kelmeyler
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I do not have an iphone and never will, way overpriced, I do not even consider them when changing my phone, now it looks like customers being held to ransom.

Profile photo of Ian
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They’re pricey, I agree, but you’re getting lot more than a ‘phone. The current set of iPhones are mini-computers, with huge amounts of power and extreme flexibility. If you’re going to use even a tenth of what Apple offers in its iPhone, then the price s probably worth it.

Member
Jaguar says:
13 February 2016

Having owned one Apple product I would never ever buy one again. All Apple products are focussed on just one thing – Apple – and the customer is merely incidental to the process. Android is the way forward, which is why it outsells Apple 5 to 1.

Profile photo of wavechange
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But Android does not make phones. It is an operating system used on various brands of phones in the same way that Windows is an operating system used on most computers. My view is that competition is valuable – whatever your personal preference.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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wavechange has a point but for those interested in Jaguar, s or wavechanges viewpoint and would like a technical and detailed difference in both types go to== diffen.com/difference/Andriod_vs_iOS

Profile photo of Ian
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Having owned one Apple product I would never ever buy one again. All Apple products are focussed on just one thing – Apple – and the customer is merely incidental to the process Jaguar

That’s not been my experience, I have to say. Not only is Apple arguably the most honest of any electrical retailer, but their products are extremely well made and – for the most part – work reliably and securely.

If the customer was “merely incidental to the process” then it’s difficult to explain why Apple will replace failed Hard drives up to six years after purchase (Apple don’t make the drives, of course) or why they happily replace goods if they fail to meet their own deadlines. Yes – some don’t like what they view as Apple’s ‘closed system’ I agree, but that same system offers a degree of security certainly absent in other products.

I’ve been using Apple products since the Apple II and, while nothing is perfect, they remain – in my view – the easiest to use and most reliable domestic electrical products on the market.

Just prior to Christmas last year we replaced our Sony Bravia TV with the latest Samsung. Hooked up to the Samsung is an Apple TV and media server, Sky Box, Humax Box, Blue ray player and other bits and pieces. Only the Sky box approaches Apple for ease of use; the Samsung is astonishingly counter-intuitive to use (Which? describes its remote as ‘fiddly’) and the Samsung website is a mess.

So for me, anyway, Apple has always been about quality, ease of use and reliability. Our youngest son – a very highly paid Engineer – fell out with the original iPhone and opted for Samsung instead. After a year he returned to the iPhone, the iPad and Apple computers. Part of his reasoning was security and part of it was simply that Apple stuff was ‘superbly engineered’.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Ian – I hope that Samsung smart TV isnt too smart as last year Samsung announced a television that would listen to everything said in the room its in–and in the fine print literally warned people not to talk about sensitive information in front of it (reference supplied if required ) . In any case if your TV is connected to the Internet all your viewing info is collected and used to target you through third parties .

Profile photo of Ian
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Yep: we’re already onto that and the Mic has been disabled. Never use the internet facility on it, anyway, but of course Google does exactly the same thing.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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For all users of Android the latest malware with rooting abilities can wipe your data -it canmake your phone into a crappy box .Discovered by Heimdel Security its called the Mazar Bot ,it directly sends you SMS/MMS messages they contain the Android app file APK which has an infected link -click on it it downloads automatically when run users are asked to install another app called MMS Messaging —it sends -send_SMS/ Receive_boot_completed/internet/ system _alert_window /write_SMS/access_network_state/wake_lock/get_tasks/call_phone/receive_SMS/read_phone_state/ read_SMS——AND !!!— erase_phone .AS you can see it takes over your phone completely andc can KILL it. It also does a lot of remote phone/internet connections so Do NOT click on a link sent via SMS/MMS as Android are quite vulnerable and the latest security devices wont work only 3 out of 54 showed any response -turn OFF Settings>Security>Unknown Sources >allow installation of apps from sources other than play store . I hope I am writing this not in vain as it is DEADLY –you have been warned !

Member
Greenspecs says:
15 February 2016

Standing from the outside (I haven’t got an Apple phone) a couple of things strike me:
1. If Apple can repair a phone with eg a broken screen and reset whatever security stuff there is inside it so that ‘error 53’ does not occur, then they should make that facility available to 3rd parties. Their current stance is simply monopolistic.
2. The situation is very similar to what used to happen in car servicing – to keep your warranty intact you had to use an authorised dealership. The EU (I think) put a stop to that some time ago.

I also wonder if putting restrictive clause in the purchase contract wouldn’t be consider an ‘unfair term’.
Time for Which? to take up the case?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Well here is a iphone related malware- A hoax message says if you want to activate an Easter egg just turn back time setting to January 1st 1970 its on the entire social media -it will quote- give you the classic Macintosh theme to relive the magic —- what it really does —— it BRICKS your phone you have been warned !!!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Well here is very good good news for all you Apple device owners and especially you Ian and your foresight thinking engineer son . Tim Cook -CEO Apple has REFUSED to install a back-door -as ordered to do so by the NSA . Good on ya Tim !! If I ever buy a smartphone it will now be an Apple one , now if only MS had a bit more guts !

Profile photo of malcolm r
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My first reaction when I saw this news was to condemn Apple for not helping track down possible terrorists. This was moderated by – well, just do this one phone because we want to defeat terrorism, don’t we?. Then I suppose the consequences sank in – once software has been used to allow an indefinite number of attempts to find the PIN, it could possibly be misused by anyone. And misused for other less vital causes. “Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear” but they have of course. They have to fear losing their personal information to others, and we should all have a right to keep personal information private. Let the investigators find another way; this is taking a balance beyond the tipping point.

Profile photo of Ian
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I agree, Malcolm. I’m very glad Apple stood up to the Feds, but I suspect things could become nasty if governments legislate to force the companies to sell ‘broken’ phones. Of course, that could mean the companies affected will stop selling in the territories involved, and that could lead to a swift collapse of social media.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Ian I realise you are not a “terrorist ” whom the US government classes as anyone who disagrees with its policies. But if you feel the need for end to end encryption or even wavechange then sign up to Proton Mail ,its out in Beta for apple smartphones , I have it for emails but dont at present use it as I am not a “terrorist ” (in my eyes ) but keep it handy . You need to apply to join . It was attacked with DDoS in November by our Western hackers (official ) but they couldnt overcome it . Many $1000 were put in by crowd funding to help it get a specialist company to strengthen the servers against this . The codes were not cracked. It employs twin passwords (dont store them ) and is working okay now ,I think it does a beta for other system smartphones. Sorry malcolm the US government just wants to spy totally on its population as does the UK -the word “terrorist ” is used to stop any complaints.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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latest news — FEb.18, 2016; PM -PT (US) about error 53 will interest ALL those complaining on this subject here — Apple today RE-issued iOS 9.2.1 to FIX error 53 for those BRICKED by it .It will only be served to users who update their iphones through iTunes on a Mac OR Windows PC NOT over the air . FEb.9. 2016 12.49 PM PT – Seattle law firm -Pfau-Cochran -Vertetis-Amala (PCVA ) they are investigating a CLASS action against Apple and asked owners of iPhone 6,6 PLus and their SUCCESSORS to fill out a form if you have been hit by it . I hope this is of some help to those angry at what has happened .

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
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Hi all, an update for you. Apple has released a fix for ‘Error 53′, restoring customers’ bricked iPhone 6’s. 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. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205628

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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For all you Apple users — Apple iPhones have now been declared the most secure smartphones in normal commercial use . Security companies like- Avast- Trend Micro-Sophos all agree (details if required ) . While the worst –???? – Android -quote- cyber criminals develop an Android malware every 17 Seconds while the other security flaws make Android smartphone venerable to hackers. BUT the FBI has not given up and are applying to the US high court to gain access to an iPhone ,this is not the Back Door we are talking about but Apple,s unique software entitled –ERASE DATA ,which if you fail 10 times to access it it WIPES the data in your phone – FBI Very unhappy. A Federal Court Judge ordered Apple to comply – Tim said -NO !!!!!! IF you didnt know about “brute force ” attack by our security services AND the US ones then this is how they do it- IF Apple gave them access to Erase Data they would then use their Billion $$$$ computer to blast the Iphone with every conceivable variety of code till it reached one that opened the IPhone BUT as they dont have access it stops them dead as after 10 goes it deletes the data . This secure software COULD be fitted to Android /Google/ MIcrosoft but I am sure the intelligent posters here can work out why they dont do it -or do I need to spell it out ? This same technique is also applied to computers but as they have open doors -well most of them- to the NSA/GCHQ all they do to find the key to any users encryption is to use the “brute force ” method . They would rather have it easy as this takes time and computer CPU use .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Good news ,of a sort , the FBI has said is is not pursuing legal action against Apple for access to its programming but they say they have found a way of getting access but some think the government knew it would lose the case and didnt want a law introduced hampering it from snooping on all types of communications equipment.