Apple Suddenly Decides That Error 53 Is No Longer A 'Security Feature'

Apple Suddenly Decides That Error 53 Is No Longer a 'Security Feature'

After weeks of insisting Error 53 brickings were the result of bad repair jobs, Apple is now saying that it was a big goof and that the brickings were never supposed to happen. Come on Apple. To recap, some users were reporting an "Error 53" would occur after having their phones repaired by a third party. The phone would slip into a boot loop. When connected to a computer the Error 53 would pop up in iTunes. Earlier this month Apple told Gizmodo this was a security feature designed to keep third-parties from replacing the Home Button and using TouchID to access devices.

Now the company is changing its tune, and offering a fix for people whose phones have been bricked. Here's the statement given to 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 apologise 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.

So your phone bricking after you pay a dude working out of the back of his van to repair it? Definitely not the "security feature" as Apple originally alleged. It's actually the result of a software check occurring when it shouldn't occur.

AJ Forsythe is familiar with Error 53. He's the CEO of iCracked and like many iPhone repair services, they have been aware of the problem for over a year now. Forsythe told me that only "maybe 1 per cent of repairs" have experienced a Error 53 bricking in the last year, and that's out of a sample size in the "hundreds of thousands". Most third party repair agencies have learned to live with the quirk and have standardised their training of repair agents to accommodate this specific issue. (The companies that didn't are the ones likely leading to the majority of brickings).

This new announcement won't really change too much for agencies in their day to day operation. TouchID will continue to remain disabled on phones that have experienced the error because those phones feature a third party Home Button, which while convenient, is not secure.

This is a major win for third party repairs. Disabling an entire product because of one third party component is insane. Disabling that one feature to keep the device secure? Right up Apple's alley.

Given the error has been around for at least a year, it's about time Apple provided a fix.

[TechCrunch via Wired]



    So Apple Realised it wasn't going to get away with this after all.

    With the ACCC breathing down their necks and the lawyers gearing up, they realised hmm maybe it would be better if do a about face on this as the backlash is not going to be small.

    yes some repairers are dodgy and yet maybe the part suppliers should actually mention and list this as a potential issue? The company i worked at exited the mobile phone repair business before touch Id came into due to undercutting from backyarders. Who wins for most people? the cheapest repair price usually.

      No - the touch ID still doesn't work with a 3rd party repair according to the article. Just the phone isn't bricked.

    Back peddle. Back peddle.
    Amazing how the story changes when litigation is launched.

    "Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement."

    So wait... Apple charged customers to have their phones replaced due to this issue, but it was a known factory testing module built into the phone?


      What about this re you not getting? Apple didn't create "Error 53" to brick repaired phones, it created it to ID phones with dodgy/fake touch ID sensors. Presumeably it is one of the many automated tests that a phone has to pass before it leaves the factory. It checks the sensor is valid and apparently returns an error that indicates there is a component mismatch in the security chain. It also seems that when they created iOS 9, someone decided that hardware errors in security constituted a critical vulnerability that should be addressed, or changed the way they are addresssed. When iOS 9 started bricking phones that return Error 53 on startup because they have been repaired out of warranty, apple stores didn't have a coherent policy so they applied the old standby of "You violated the warranty, so your problem" and made you buy a new phone if you wanted a replacement. That created a PR nightmare for them - for good reason because it was their fault not the users - so they have fixed iOS 9 so that error 53 doesn't brick the phone and are refunding people who they charged for a new phone. If you get a new Touch ID sensor, it will still generate error 53 and your new sensor will stop working as a security measure, but the rest of your phone will still work ok. If you break your phone and have invalidated your warranty and the issue is not Apple's fault, you will still have to pay for a new phone. Got it now?

        I know what Apple's story is, I'm not ignorant. I'm also not naive. Believe what you like, and I too will believe what I like.

    I'm no fanboi, but I'm glad they're sorting something out. Although part of me can't help but think that if they develop software updates for their hardware and the owner has decided to change the hardware, it's not entirely their fault.

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