Apple iPhone users need to read up on ‘Error 53’, especially before they decide to hand the iPhone over to a regular non-Apple repair person, in case they have issues with the Touch ID. Because ‘Error 53’ will brick the iPhone, aka disable it, and so far there’s no one fix for this, other than getting a new phone.
Now Error 53 is nothing new, and Apple’s discussion forums have seen the issue get raised back in 2014, when the iPhone 6 was first launched. You can follow the full discussion on the Apple Support forums here.
What is common to the discussions is this: When error 53 flashes on your iPhone, it’s game over for your device, no matter how old or new. So why is it news now? DailyDot has first reported about the same in April 2015, but recently a Guardian report posted about the issue and how it has rendered many iPhones useless for customers in the UK, who are unable to get a new device either.
Apple has now responded to the Guardian’s report saying that the error occurs when the iPhone is repaired by an unauthorised technician, and that the phone is locked to protect the device’s security
In a statement to the Guardian Apple said, “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.”
Now while Apple says that the security issue is only when someone tinkers with the original Touch ID sensor, as the DailyDot report’s author Mike Wehner, notes he faced the issue even though nobody had actually repaired the iPhone.
The DailyDot article also points out that Touch ID problem is a serious one because each iPhone is linked to a specific Touch ID, and if the original fails then your device won’t work as it is meant to, although re-installing the original button seems to help. In his case, since the phone had not been repaired or tampered, he was given a new device.
The article indicates that the phone with error 53 does not get repaired, and is just shipped back to Apple. Interestingly ‘Error 53’ not even listed on the official known number of Apple errors.
Additionally the discussion forum on Apple’s thread also gives some insight into Error 53. One user KDM666 describes the reason and says,
“The problem is in Touch ID 1000%. If it is not original button for this particular motherboard or your touch id ribbon cable is damaged or not connected to your motherboard (at least it can be fixed)
The problem has no software solutions. At least until that moment when this topic will have thousandths of complaints about error 53. And apple will do something.”
For a lot of iPhone 6 users encountering ‘Error 53’ after their warranty period has expired, will pose a problem. Apple won’t replace a device, where the warranty has expired. Unless of course, you are one of those people who got AppleCare with the device, and have an extended warranty.
The best bet right now with an iPhone giving the Error 53 alert is that you don’t try and fix or repair it on your own, and take it straight to Apple hoping for a replacement.