‘Error 53’ fury mounts as Apple software update kills some iPhones ‘fixed’ by non-Apple repair shops

“Thousands of iPhone 6 users claim they have been left holding almost worthless phones because Apple’s latest operating system permanently disables the handset if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician,” Miles Brignall reports for The Guardian. “The issue appears to affect handsets where the home button, which has touch ID fingerprint recognition built-in, has been repaired by a ‘non-official’ company or individual. It has also reportedly affected customers whose phone has been damaged but who have been able to carry on using it without the need for a repair.”

“But the problem only comes to light when the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 9, is installed. Indeed, the phone may have been working perfectly for weeks or months since a repair or being damaged,” Brignall reports. “After installation a growing number of people have watched in horror as their phone, which may well have cost them £500-plus, is rendered useless. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable.”

“Tech experts claim Apple knows all about the problem but has done nothing to warn users that their phone will be ‘bricked’ (ie, rendered as technologically useful as a brick) if they install the iOS upgrade,” Brignall reports. “Apple charges £236 for a repair to the home button on an iPhone 6 in the UK, while an independent repairer would demand a fraction of that.”

MacDailyNews Take: Wrong. The link that Brignall supplies takes you to Apple UK’s iPhone repair page which clearly states: £79 to fix “accidental damage” for those with AppleCare+ coverage. It costs £256.44 for those without AppleCare+ warranty.

“Freelance photographer and self-confessed Apple addict Antonio Olmos says this happened to his phone a few weeks ago after he upgraded his software. Olmos had previously had his handset repaired while on an assignment for the Guardian in Macedonia. ‘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,'” Brignall reports. “When Olmos, who says he has spent thousands of pounds on Apple products over the years, took it to an Apple store in London, staff told him there was nothing they could do, and that his phone was now junk. He had to pay £270 for a replacement and is furious. ‘The whole thing is extraordinary. How can a company deliberately make their own products useless with an upgrade and not warn their own customers about it? Outside of the big industrialised nations, Apple stores are few and far between, and damaged phones can only be brought back to life by small third-party repairers.'”

MacDailyNews Take: You should have had AppleCare+, Antonio. You take your iPhone to cover a crisis in the Balkans and you don’t have proper insurance coverage? Or proper backup? No sympathy. If your iPhone is so important for your work and you know you are going to an area without proper repair services, maybe you should take along a backup iPhone? You know, like a smart person?

Instead you go whining to the media, trumpeting your own ineptitude and glaring lack of preparedness in your work. Have some effing personal responsibility, will you? It’s not Apple’s fault you’re a butterfingered klutz without even a wisp of a backup plan.

Some people have to learn lessons the hard way.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Security first. Back up your iPhone and you won’t lose any data if you’re an international photojournalist or otherwise prone to breaking your iPhone, who has no backup and is therefore likely to panickedly resort to getting it serviced in an insecure way by an unauthorized technician, and therefore ultimately have to get a new one.

Apple’s statement:

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

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Sarasota” and “Dialtone” for the heads up.]


Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.