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.