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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.

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