Users who have inoperable iPhones as a result of “Error 53” will not have to go through with a class action lawsuit after all. Apple has now released a fix for people whose phones were bricked after updating to iOS 9.2.1. The problem derives from Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader, which is a security feature Apple added to allow users to use their fingerprint to unlock their iPhone rather than a password.
The problem was discovered when users who had had their home buttons replaced by third parties suddenly found themselves with bricked phones. Once the phones were updated, the operating system detected that the phone had been repaired with non-standard components and acted to shut down the device, with no way for the user to restart their phones.
Thousands of users were angry at Apple for their refusal to do anything about Error 53. In fact, Apple simply confirmed that users who had work done on their Touch ID by third parties would in fact find themselves locked out of their phones. However, at that time Apple did not offer any fixes of the problem. This left frustrated users with very expensive devices that they could not use at all.
Apple’s First Response
Apple is always controlling over its software, preferring that users never modify, let alone jailbreak, the components. Apple said of Touch ID that “[t]his 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.”
Users quickly moved to sue Apple by filing a class action lawsuit in America and a watchdog organization in Australia. This apparently prompted the company to quickly issue a fix. Apple now claims that the issue was due to a so-called “factory test.” Apple patched the issue with an updated version of iOS 9.2.1. Apple’s comment to TechCrunch was that the issue “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.”
How to Fix Your Bricked iPhone
So what should users with the bricked iPhones do? Well, users can clear the error by connecting the iPhone to iTunes and installing the updated iOS 9.2.1. The phones will need to be tethered to a computer or other device with iTunes, since the update can’t be applied directly to the phone via the cloud.
Once a user solves Error 53, Touch ID still remains inoperable. The reason for this is that third-party replacement of the Home button could potentially make the phone vulnerable, allowing unauthorized access through a modified fingerprint sensor.
Safe to Update iOS 9.2.1
Last week we warned users not to update to iOS 9.2.1 if they had their phones repaired by a third-party rather than Apple. It now appears that it is safe for users to update to iOS 9.2.1, even if they had their Touch ID repaired or altered in some way. Just be forewarned that if the error does occur, you will want to report it to Apple right away to ensure that you are reimbursed and directed to fix the error.