Everything you need to know about iOS’ crippling ‘Error 53’

By

Error 53 makes gold iPhone  worth s***.
The dreaded "Error 53" can turn an iPhone into a shiny brick.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple is in the midst of an all-new controversy, thanks to the mysterious “Error 53” message that is bricking iPhones without warning.

The problem can hit DIY types or anybody who has ever had a Touch ID sensor (or other iPhone hardware) replaced by a repair shop not authorized by Apple. When they update iOS, the device locks down, displaying the cryptic Error 53 message and rendering the iPhone virtually worthless.

Apple says Error 53 is actually a security feature of iOS 9 that keeps your personal information secure, but customers aren’t convinced. Cult of Mac talked to iPhone repair and and parts experts to find out what exactly is going on. The truth is that Error 53 has plagued many iPhone owners, not just those who have replaced Touch ID — and it’s not totally clear why.

What is Error 53?

Error 53 is an unfixable error code displayed by iTunes when restoring an iPhone that is found to have an unidentified or unexpected Touch ID module. The error message is terse — and almost always terminal for the device in question.

Which devices are affected?

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus definitely. It’s still not clear if the 6s and 6s Plus are vulnerable, too, because they use a different cable design than earlier models. iPads with Touch ID can get the error, but the iPhone 5s is not affected, even though it has Touch ID.

What causes Error 53?

Apple’s official statement is that Error 53 occurs in devices that have had Touch ID, or other components related to the fingerprint-recognition feature, replaced by an unauthorized party:

If your iOS device has Touch ID, iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor matches your device’s other components during an update or restore. This check keeps your device and the iOS features related to Touch ID secure. When iOS finds an unidentified or unexpected Touch ID module, the check fails. For example, an unauthorized or faulty screen replacement could cause the check to fail.”

Apple claims the reason it locks down the entire device is so a malicious Touch ID sensor can’t be installed on your device that could potentially provide unauthorized access to your fingerprint data in the iPhone’s Secure Enclave. The Secure Enclave is an “advanced security architecture” developed by Apple to safeguard passcode and fingerprint data used for Touch ID. Apple describes the Secure Enclave like this:

Fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave. Fingerprint data is used only by the Secure Enclave to verify that your fingerprint matches the enrolled fingerprint data. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of the chip and the rest of iOS. Therefore, iOS and other apps never access your fingerprint data, it’s never stored on Apple servers, and it’s never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. Only Touch ID uses it,

So why is Error 53 a big deal?

It’s kind of like if the door handle on your Tesla broke and you got it fixed at a local repair shop, then Elon Musk decided to lock down your car’s engine in the name of security because you didn’t pay Tesla to replace the part.

Aside from rendering perfectly good devices worthless, it’s a dick move by Apple. They could simply make it so you can only use your PIN to login; instead, Apple is locking up devices. There’s supposedly no way to fix Error 53.

Can other hardware problems trigger Error 53?

Yes. Contacts in the repair industry say the Error 53 problem affects more than just Touch ID: Even devices that have undergone unauthorized screen repairs can be bricked by Error 53.

“Apple’s statement that it’s just TouchID is bullshit,” said one repair expert, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s not just Touch ID.”

iPads with Touch ID can also be affected. We first received reports of Error 53 in September 2015, when a U.K. shop replaced several iPad Air screens. The iPads worked fine until Apple released iOS 9. When the iPads got updated, they were bricked. The repair shop didn’t replace the iPad’s Touch ID hardware — just the screens.

Some people have received an Error 53 even though their devices were never repaired or opened up. Mike Wehner reported last April that his iPhone 6 got hit by Error 53 after having display and Touch ID issues for months. He never had the LCD or Touch ID replaced, but got the error message during his update to iOS 8.3. When he took the phone to the Genius Bar, they were practically clueless and just swapped the device for free.

Does anyone know what’s really going on?

No one is totally sure, but there are currently two major theories in the repair community on why Error 53 is happening.

1) It’s a mistake. Error 53 is caused by a bug in Apple’s hardware-verification process. When the device starts up, a built-in hardware checker ensures all the hardware is genuine and working properly. A replacement Touch ID button should still work as a Home Button whether it’s genuine or not, but for some reason the checker disables the Home Button, Apple Pay and the entire device.

2) It’s an effort by Apple to fight counterfeit LCDs. There’s a shortage of genuine Apple replacement parts, especially LCD screens, and the market is flooded with counterfeits. Error 53 might be an anti-counterfeit measure. But of course, Apple won’t admit to this — there are all kinds of antitrust legal ramifications. Class-action lawsuits are already being planned against Apple in several countries.

How many devices are affected?

It’s impossible to nail down a specific number, but it looks like a lot of devices have been bricked by Error 53. iFixit says its Error 53 support page has been viewed more than 200,000 times. The topic has also been discussed extensively on Apple’s Support forums over the last year.

How can I avoid Error 53?

If you’ve ever had a part replaced by anyone other than the Apple Store, don’t update your iPhone’s software. Only Apple Stores have hardware capable of re-establishing an authentic connection between the your Touch ID and your iPhone’s Secure Enclave.

Can I fix my iPhone if it gets an Error 53?

Maybe, but it’s not easy. Reinstall your original home button and any other parts that got replaced if you still have them.

If you don’t have the genuine parts anymore, you’ll have to buy a new iPhone.

That sucks

Take it up with Tim Cook.

Deals of the Day

  • Ron Kramer

    I SO SICK of security in my computers. My MAC and my PC – my iPAD and my iPhone – drive me nuts with f’ing security. I don’t care if my data is secure. Turn on the firewall, but anyone sitting in my home is welcome to log into any of my devices. And it seems ITS ONLY ME! And I’m darn sick of clicking OK GIVE ADMIN permission when I already logged in with an admin account. It’s not fort knox people. It’s a frigg’n phone.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      it’s not just someone logging into your computer remotely. The issue is, what happens if you lose your mobile device? How many people lose their smartphone, tablet or computers each year? Once someone gets physical access to your device, how are you going to prevent others from getting to your system, and all of the account information? There are many different aspects of security at play. I can’t tell you how many people i’ve run into that have either lost, had a device stolen. I had my laptop stolen from me. Thankfully I didn’t have much data on it as it was a secondary computer for me and Apple’s pretty secure, at least from the idiots that stole it. But some people have some very valuable data on their computers. For some, security is a big deal, and for others it’s not. But they have to cater to those where Security is a big deal. It’s just how things are.

      • Jessa Jones

        right, but know that the touch ID is already disabled the moment the original home button is damaged or disconnected. No aftermarket home buttons have a fingerprint sensor at all. And even swapping over another OEM Apple fingerprint sensor from another phone—Touch ID is still disabled. Bricking the device? Unnecessary and punitive

    • iamacat

      The only people who appreciate annoying security measures are the ones for whom it’s already too late. If high resolution digital captures of your fingerprints, it’s not like you can call a bank for replacement by next Friday. Someone who secretly installs a modified sensor that downloads/replays your fingerprints could cause you a lot of trouble.

  • Kelvin

    That’s a crappy analogy to the Tesla handler.

    • Kelvin

      Please disregard this because it’s an incomplete post.

      • Kelvin

        No but seriously it was crappy. Fuck everyone

  • Kelvin

    That’s a crappy analogy to the Tesla handler. The more correct one would be that the handler of your Tesla happens to also be the keys to all of your personal data including starting of your car as well as all of your credit card information. That’s exactly what the TouchID provides. You loss all the security data on your phone as well as potentially the actual finger print data.

    • kennywyland

      Yes, this. Crappy analogies are the crappy. It’s not just a cosmetic door handle, it’s the keys to your entire database of sensitive (often financial) information.

      • MP Drie

        You don’t lose any data if you have a (iCloud) backup. As far as security meassure goes, it’s effective.

        My wife’s iPhone was stolen not a couple of days ago. She couldn’t believe she got all her data back after a restore on her new iPhone. It’s also a satisfying feeling that the stolen iPhone is of no use to anyone it might end up with.

      • ventolin63

        What it’s with all you guys anyway? Can’t you be at least more original when you lie about something? I’ve read like 20 times already ‘my wife’s iPhone was stolen, yada yada…’ It’s ALWAYS the wife/girlfriend’s phone that gets stolen and never YOUR phone :)

        And for what? To make a point about iCloud nonetheless, a service that anybody with half a brain knows that it’s about as secure as…putting your house key under the door mat and drawing a huge black arrow pointing towards it? You don’t remember how a bunch of starlets found their naked pictures posted all over the internet last year and you have the cheek to call iCloud a SECURE BACKUP? LOOOL, man you made my day!

        Who are you anyway? Tim Cook (or some other Apple stooge paid to boost up a service that has been plagued with data infringement since day one). You know what Doulci is, my man?
        Please stop idolizing Apple and try to gain some credibility first, BEFORE you start about how Apple is your good good goodie friend. They may pay you a salary (so that you can write for them) but they’re definitively NOT your friend. Otherwise they would not have so many pending judicial actions against them, more than any other company, except for maybe…BP :)

      • Serge Winters

        hahahahaa best reply ever!! lool gf always… same story XD

      • Edward Blodgett

        There’s always someone that offers nothing to the conversation but dribble. Thanks for being that guy.

    • Undivided

      Everyone commenting that the car analogies are crappy just do not get the point. The point being that I am legally allowed to replace oem parts with 3rd party ones. Apple has no right to disable my phone to the point it’s a bricck for any reason. Error 53 occurs even when a simple led screen swap is made. BS that this causes your device to brick because the owner did not pay Apple for the repairs. Apple should be rendering the Touch ID useless and reverting the home button to just a home button. But that’s not what they did. They disabled the device and is a dick move. Anyone defending Apple in this case should be considered just as devious as Apple. It’s not about security, that is the lie from app,e, otherwise this would only be affecting Touch ID replacements. But it is not. That argument falls by the way side.

      • BusterH

        Exactly. My apologies that the analogy of the door handle (the thing that opens your car) and the home button (the thing you open your iPhone with) was a bit too spot on. Change door handle to starter, spark plugs, seat belt or any other part and the analogy still stands. You should be able to fix your iPhone without it turning into a brick.

      • Edward Blodgett

        I don’t agree, because the button doesn’t just open your phone. if that’s all it did, then I would say you were close to a good analogy, but still just ok. The car key is closer because it would allow you to steal the car just like a compromised Touch ID would allow the person to steal your you pictures/media and all your data. For some, their money, life, and identity. So even the keys would be a little lacking for an analogy.

      • Jessa Jones

        It is only affecting touch ID replacements. However, you’re right it is overkill. The device is already disabled for Touch ID the moment the original sensor is gone. The sensor, and with it Touch ID is dead. Only Apple can plug in and program a new touch ID–which is reasonable.

        Going the extra mile to actually brick phones that were perfectly functional the day before, albeit with disabled touch ID? That’s why error 53 is so outrageous.

      • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

        “The point being that I am legally allowed to replace oem parts with 3rd party ones”

        Agreed, but you’re making the assumption that Apple bricked your phone because someone else repaired it when it’s more likely it’s because they repaired incorrectly. If the repair was done right, your phone should be just like new. Here’s a better car analogy – if you take your car in for a repair and then it doesn’t start, blame the mechanic not the manufacturer.

      • Jessa Jones

        Sure, but the car did start. It just has a non-OEM part because the manufacturer refuses to allow access to the OEM part. The car starts and drives just fine, except that a convenience button to press to start the car automatically is now disabled–perhaps rightfully so. Id argue that you have the right to give up the convenience start button feature of the car to save money and get the thing working again. When the manufacturer later seizes the engine over this, then I blame the manufacturer, not the mechanic.

      • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

        It doesn’t really matter. If the phone wasn’t bricked and only Touch ID was disabled – if anything is wrong with the phone after a third-party repair – Apple’s going to be blamed and sued. No one’s bothering to sue Repair Kiosk, Inc.™

      • Jessa Jones

        Then the heart of the argument is that Repair kiosk does not have the option to install and program a new sensor if they accidentally damage the original during repair. Mistakes can happen, and for any other part, a replacement is available. Bork the connector on the board? Send it out for microsoldering. Rip a power flex? Put it a new one.
        Damage the fingerprint sensor? But customer a new phone.

        I think, though, that it is not so cut and dry to allow independent repair access to a fingerprint sensor reprogrammer and sell the things on eBay to anyone. THAT may actually be a viable security argument.

        I can’t imagine Apple losing any case where they would be required to grant every Uncertified repair guy access to a fingerprint reprogrammer.

      • Undivided

        No, you are dead wrong. Do some research. The phone is bricked because Apple claims security reasons. Siting that the security enclave can be compromised. This is BS, as the error 53 occurs even if you take a working ID touch sensor from another iPhone. It gets bricked. Search macrumors for proof of this. The 3rd party part works just fine on ios8 until the unsuspecting person upgrades to ios9, which renders your phone a brick. The part has nothing to do with it. It is Apple disabling your phone and punishing you for not taking it to Apple.

      • Edward Blodgett

        They have to have some checks to be able to determine if the part belongs there. Microsoft has been doing this for years in Windows. Change some core parts and it will “brick” the whole installation. Until you can give definitive proof that these check are invalid, then what you say is invalid. I agree Marcintosh, It’s known that “kiosk” and other repairs use cheap crap and not original units because they make more MONEY. They are just mad that they can’t. You get what you pay for. If the Touch ID ever got because of some cheap China crap, then you would hear it was Apple’s fault for not protecting their phone. Hater going hate.

      • iamacat

        Someone who replaces the sensor without your knowledge can steal your fingerprints even if you touch id does not work.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      The problem that Apple faces and I completely understand why they would want to have some safeguards.

      1. There are independent break/fix people out there that are not Authorized Apple Service Centers. IFixIt isn’t one, and a lot of these other places aren’t either. You know, some of the kiosks outside an Apple Store at a Mall that has some YoYo replacing screens, etc. acting like they are some rogue Apple Genius. We all know what I’m talking about.
      The thing is that Apple designs various aspects of their devices. Screen technology, Fingerprint ID sensors, ARM processors and possibly other aspects of their products. They do use some more off the shelf components, but they use specific spec’s, have their components tested to meet certain test requirements. And all of it combined comes together to make an Apple product. The second you replace one component with something that didn’t come from Apple, makes the unit different and it may not have the same specs and the component may not be able to work the same as the one that was originally in the device. Plus, if someone cracks open these units and replaces something that’s not a user replaceable component, then there might be a violation of the warranty and Apple might have a problem being able to support the unit on any level since it’s been modified.

      2. Between Apple Service and Independent Authorized Service, they have access to Apple training, diagnostic tools, genuine Apple replacement parts and any of the bad components get sent back to Apple where they can figure out if it was a specific supplier that they need to deal with to get better quality components that are failing prematurely, or maybe their outsourcing partner used the wrong component, or maybe a bad trace in the circuit board, or something that can be traced back to figure out how to fix the problem and to see how they might have to deal with the issue if it’s a big batch. Etc. I had an old MacBook where there was a bad batch of motherboards where the headphone jack was intermittent. I didn’t know about this because it wasn’t heavily publicized and because I didn’t use the headphone jack, I had no idea about the known issue. I sold my computer to a friend and had some AppleCare warranty left on it. So when my friend came back to me a little upset that the headphone jack didn’t work. I called Apple, they mentioned they knew about the problem and it got fixed, no questions asked and while they fixed the motherboard, they replaced the keyboard (as the keyboard was kind of worn) and they replaced the screen as it was a little worn as it was a 2 1/2 year old laptop.
      But what I’m getting at is that if you take an Apple device to a 3rd party that’s NOT Authorized, then whatever bad part they replace doesn’t get sent into Apple for them to figure out what the real problem is and to figure out a way to resolve it on a global level, or if it’s just isolated.

      The other thing is a lot of sites, like IFixIt or these rogue service techs that THINK they know how to fix Apple products, may actually not know how to really fix them. Yeah, people can take screws out, and yeah people can detach a connector, but there might be certain things that they don’t know that’s part of the repair process, and these people don’t have access to Apple’s diagnostic tools and other things that simply allow for a proper repair. And what replacement parts may actually not be the right part.

      iPhones, iPads are highly integrated devices, even Macs are highly integrated and Apple just doesn’t go out to Fry’s or some store like NewEgg and gather a bunch of generic parts and stick them together and throw an OS on top. That’s NOT how Apple designs their products.

      I mean, people don’t go out and buy a Ford and then take their car to a Chevy dealership and have things replaced because the Chevy might have a cheaper part that might kinda work, sorta. The Fingerprint ID sensor is designed by Apple and it’s integrated part. An off the shelf look alike sensor isn’t the same sensor and it might not work properly, even though the lookalike might be cheaper and look identical, it’s still NOT the same thing. So Apple has every right to have their internal OS test this shit and brick the fucking phone.

      We are told to back up data prior to sending in for repair. We are told to back up the data prior to performing the OS update and if a phone gets bricked and you didn’t back your data, then guess what? You just learned a lesson the hard way. Welcome to the age of computers.

      Also, if it comes up with an error because you brought your phone to a NON_Authorized Service Center or you stuck your cotton picking hands inside when you shouldn’t, then guess what? You just learned a valuable lesson.

      Samsung, and other smartphone mfg are the same way with their warranties and how they conduct business. I just think most people that own iPhones are taking their units into these idiots that aren’t Authorized repair centers OR performing their own repairs because they watched a video on YouTube or went to the IFixIt site, they think they are qualified service techs. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s the problem and unfortunately people blame Apple, when the person to blame is PROBABLY the user and/or the people that serviced their product.

      If you brought you phone to an Authorized Apple Service Center, then they would have to fix or replace your phone if they did something to cause it to brick. At least that’s what it sounds like if the Error 53 comes on when someone uses a part that’s not the correct part.

  • Ecko Vas

    All this could be avoided by just going in to Apple and getting your products repaired. It costs more money to get your products repaired by a third party vendor and they don’t use apple certified replacement parts, which can cause more problems later like multitouch issues or malfunctioning cellular antenna. Be logical, your products cost a lot of money, have the creator repair your products. Apple won’t lose this fight, it’s about security. We all know how this is going to end.

    • James Dunham

      Except Apple Stores are not by any means everywhere and always easily accessed.

      For instance how does a journalist get their broken screen fixed in Syria?

      Just one of MANY examples.

      Simple solution is to buy a Galaxy and never deal with I-Deviousness or I-PredatoryPractices again

      And they most certainly will lose the fight.

      It is about ‘Consumer Rights’ not ‘Security’ in this case.

    • Jessa Jones

      Reputable independent repair companies warranty their work–so you often end up with a warranty better than what you’d get at Apple.
      The problem is the misconception that Apple services their products at all. For phones, aside from a simple screen swap or battery replacement, they really don’t. For an out of warranty phone with any one of dozens of repairable problems, Apple will just sell you a new phone at a discount if you turn in your old phone, with that discounted cost often exceeding the value of the phone if you simply bought another in good condition elsewhere.

      It is a shame for the customer and the environment to toss an iPhone 5s in need of a $50-$100 repair that Apple simply doesn’t do.

  • Apple

    People could just stop trying to go to non-apple autharized places to get their devices fixed. ONce you do that it’s voided and we don’t know what will happen. So stop trying to be greedy and save a few dolalrs and go to ARS, or Autharized service provider rather than Joe’s repair shop

    • BusterH

      That’s not always easy if you don’t live in a major metropolitan.

    • Tqwt

      There is a difference between having a warranty voided, and the manufacturer intentionally bricking the device. This is apple saying, you can’t use the device that you own any more, tough.

      Apple’s behaviour here is illegal in many countries, and I can see them loosing a lot of money and customers over this.

      • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

        Intent is at the heart of a case like this and I don’t think it can be shown here. Apple isn’t intentionally bricking phones.

      • Jessa Jones

        Maybe not, but once aware of a problem, the failure to address it with an effective solution, or prevent further customer harm is in the least negligent.
        I’d be surprised if there is really nothing they can do about it. And if so, admit it. “Guys, we messed up. We didn’t see this coming down the pipe, there’s nothing we can do about it and we’re sorry. We can’t offer everyone with error 53 a new phone because you can trigger error 53 intentionally and we’d lose our shirts” would go a long way.

        If there is a way to address error 53 at software level, then do it.

    • Domino67

      “So stop trying to be greedy and save a few dolalrs”……..you’re kidding right?

    • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

      People who don’t read blogs like this have no idea whether a shop is authorized or not. They’re just going to the nearest or cheapest repair shop.

    • Jessa Jones

      What is voided exactly? A limited warranty that was already voided the moment your phone is 1 year and 1 day, gets a screen crack, or hits water?

      Nearly all the phones that we see in independent repair are already ineligible for in-warranty service, and out of warranty replacement will cost more than just having it repaired.

  • aardman

    Error 53, wrapped in a thick cloak of mystery and rumor.
    Error 53, Area 51.
    Is the resemblance in nomenclature intentional, or mere eerie coincidence?

  • John Muirhead

    So you wouldn’t sue Apple if they allowed non authorised repairs which subsequently allowed someone to steal the data off your phone and/or make ApplePay purchases which you couldn’t disclaim or any other service you use your phone to authorise? i’m sure you wouldn’t

    • Sarah

      Can you sue them for something you did to your phone? They can’t control what you do with their product, just like it’s not their fault if someone commits a crime using their products.

  • Chris Minasians

    No one has covered this – but what if you change the hardware, then jailbreak it to bypass the “software” 53 error?
    Is that something that’s possible or even anyone has tried?

    • Jessa Jones

      Error 53 is triggered by updating/restoring the phone, which would erase any jailbreak–so no, not possible.

      • Chris Minasians

        But if you were to hardware change the home button, then get the 53 error and THEN jailbreak to an older version of iOS?

      • Jessa Jones

        You can only jailbreak certain versions of the iOS. you can’t downgrade to older versions of iOS

      • Chris Minasians

        Right I know, but back to the original question: Do you think it could get rid of the 53 error by jailbreaking? As far as I know, no one has tried

      • Jessa Jones

        It isn’t possible. By definition, error 53 is occurring during the middle of
        an update to an iOS (the current version) that has no jailbreak.

        You can’t “jailbreak to an older version of iOS”. The heart of jail breaking is that you can never update your phone past the iOS that has the exploit that the jailbreak uses. The only phones that could still be jail broken today are those still running iOS 8.3 or whatever was the last JB iOS version….or earlier. If you update those phones to the current iOS (and trigger error 53) you lose the ability to JB.

      • Chris Minasians

        Makes sense, thanks for sharing – was really curious about it :)

  • Tqwt

    You made a mistake with the last line. “you’ll have to buy a new iPhone.”

    Whilst this is all wrapped up as a security feature, it is in effect a means to sell more iPhones.
    If a company treated me like this, intentionally bricking an expensive device, I would never give them my money again.

    • DrMuggg

      If I made an expensive product and you took it to a cheap shitty repair place and changed a lot of parts of it into counterfeit stuff… I would not like to have you as a customer.

      You can try change the key system on a modern car.

      Or the mirrors – every part is reporting in encryption level signing to a “main computer” in the car. Your mirror will fit – but electrical moving of it or the defrost in it will not work.Not until you put a original part, installed at a proper garage.

  • DHF

    In 2015/2016 a law went into effect in California that requires the user to be able to lock and or brick a phone if stolen (?). Each company does it differently. Wondering, since the 5s was an “older” production model if that’s why it isn’t affected by error 53. Of course, it that’s the reason, so much for Apple’s statement on electronic security. Just a thought.

    • Tux

      You’ve been able to do this with third party apps on many phones for years I believe so Apple are actually a bit late to the party on this one.

    • Jessa Jones

      Error 53 is completely separate from the iCloud activation lock which renders a device useless if stolen. This is part of why the idea of error 53 as “a security
      measure” is weak. Any phone without the original fingerprint sensor is already disabled for Touch ID, and protected by passcode and iCloud activation lock.

      Intentionally bricking a working phone in the name of security is not reasonable.

      My guess is that error 53 = bricked phone is just an unanticipated consequence of a reasonable security check. The thoughtful approach would be “we detect a fingerprint sensor error, do you wish to proceed?”, if no–update fails or Touch ID just continues to be disabled at software level.

      Since error 53 is kinda sorta related to security, it made sense to Apple to spin their response to imply that this unanticipated consequence was a planned effort to protect you. Too bad it doesn’t hold water.

  • http://www.inbrockton.com Dave

    Hey, um… I don’t recall reading phrases like “dick move” or “bullshit” in the Boston Herald… If I want to read gutter language, I can go to Reddit any time. What’s professional about that kind of talk from a reputable news source?

    • Tux

      If you’re referring to newspapers or TV news stations I actually don’t know many which are very reputable actually. :-D

      And yes it was very arrogant and unfair of apple to add ‘security’ in this manner.

  • coolassdora

    If your agree too what apple is doing you stupid lol….example: I mean that’s like your car manufacturer saying we going shut your car off render it useless because you didn’t take it too us too fix whatever the problem was…js that goes for any product

    • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

      More like your car manufacturer saying if you take your car to an independant shop and they do a lousy job or use crappy parts your car might not start. I don’t believe Apple would intentionally brick phones as punishment.

  • Tux

    One of my colleagues used to design fingerprint scanners for door entry systems and computer logon, bloomberg had a keyboard with a fingerprint reader over a decade ago, years before the iphone. When I shows my friend this article he was laughing. These devices are relatively simple and rely on technology similar to a digital camera with a capacitive sensor for each pixel scanning what is essentially an image of your fingerprint. It would require a hacked sensor being able to scan your fingerprint, keep a copy of it in its own flash memory independent of the iPhone’s where your data is stored, (that it would be impossible for it to access) and send it’s own stored image of your real fingerprint to the processing software run by the ios software at the request of the hacker. All of this would require the hacked fingerprint reader to have its own flash memory large enough to store the fingerprint image, cpu (probably another ARM) to be able to access the flash, (read and write to it) and a serial peripheral interface bus link to connect this separate ARM CPU to the fingerprint reader input on the Apple A9 System-On-Chip. Even today with SmartWatch Sized chips with built in ARMs and spi buses it would probably be very tricky to integrate this functionality into a fingerprint reader for circumventing security and would probably require the hacker access to the phone a second time after installing the hacked reader. If I remember correctly the fingerprint readers are paired to the iphone anyway meaning there is probably some unique code in the iOS firmware or on the A9 SOC meaning that if the codes need to match as of this software update otherwise the error will occur even if the new reader is manufactured by Apple and obviously is genuine. I’m guessing an apple tech must now reprogram the iOS software or code on the SOC to match that of the new reader in order for it to work. Even innit were easy or feasible Apple could have simply asked the user to use a pin code instead of fingerprint access and disabled the fingerprint reader for security until a genuine fingerprint reader is installed not that I think they aren’t genuine components in all of the devices with the error which have been fixed by aftermarket vendors.

  • Fucking hell guys

    This is a highly opinionated article.

    Apple doesn’t have to verify their phone or OS will work with shitty counterfeit parts. Don’t expect your device to work if you put in the wrong fucking parts.

  • Jessa Jones

    I know a heck of a lot about error 53, and do nothing but fix iPhones at motherboard level all day every day. Error 53 can only be caused by missing original fingerprint sensor or its electrical pathway to the CPU. Swapping a screen can not cause error 53 by itself—only if the screen came with a pre-installed new home button. No other parts are affected. It is funny how information spreads in this day and age, I think that one repair advocate generalized a case of the home button long flex (i.e. part of the electrical pathway from sensor to board) and made a remark “and other parts” to a pretty large internet audience. This has blossomed to imply that any part of the phone can trigger error 53. That’s simply not true.

    • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

      Well, Apple’s official statement says “For example, an unauthorized or faulty screen replacement could cause the check to fail.” so it’s not like the idea that a replacement screen could throw the error is coming out of thin air. But I get what you’re saying, the error is more specific than people are being led to believe .

      • Jessa Jones

        Right, they mean “a screen replacement service where someone doesn’t bother to transfer your original home button, tears it accidentally-and has no option other than using a replacement button with no sensor, or uses a convenience screen with an aftermarket button with no sensor”.
        But that would be too long to say :)

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    What about Authorized Service Centers? They can service Apple products as they are authorized. It’s the UN-Authorized service centers.

    • https://twitter.com/marcintosh marcintosh

      Correct. Authorized shops can get OEM parts from Apple or, worst cast, send the device to Apple to have them fix it. Unauthorized shops are probably using counterfeit or used components for some repairs.

      • Jessa Jones

        Counterfeit implies knowingly deceiving someone. Independent repair tries hard not to fail to transfer the original button, but it is delicate and mistakes are sometimes made. Without access to aftermarket buttons with fingerprint sensors, and the ability to reprogram the phone to accept the new sensor, a repair shop would install a new aftermarket button that does not have the sensor–with full disclosure to the customer.
        Quality shops would consider accidental tearing of the button a big deal since the phone now will lose Touch ID function and be susceptible to error 53. Most would offer to suck it up and process and out of warranty swap for $299 on the phone at Apple since that is in the best interest of the customer.

    • Jessa Jones

      Actually some (if not all) authorized service centers also can not get their hands on the OEM replacement buttons either. They have to either do the same as independent repair and transfer the original button or send it to Apple for a new screen/new button and leave you without your phone for a week.

  • amarioguy

    Error 53 has existed ever since Touch ID is out, and no one complains till now?

    • ventolin63

      it existed waaaay before that…I got that thing first on an iphone 3gs running ios 4.2.1, if i recall correctly. But I was using a Dynex cable to restore from iTunes. Once I changed the stupid cable for an original ‘Apple Made’ one, I never had that problem again. At the moment I thought it was a problem of connectivity (it sure looked like one, it appeared right at the moment when the OS was transferred into the iPhone.

      Maybe they’re right, maybe is in that booting sequence, when it recognizes everything that’s attached to it. It’s just that , if the electronic signature is in fact unique and cannot be reproduced even by THEM…well, needless to say that will have a huge impact on the viability of the product! Who would buy a phone that can be neutered completely by a perfectly LEGAL update, just because some time before, your screen was shattered to bits and you end up changing it at a local repair store instead of paying more than twice as much at the Apple Store?

  • Palash Ghag

    lol iphone sucks

  • GaelicSoxFan

    Does anyone else want to know what causes errors 1-52 :D ?

  • Greg Woods

    Security is security. If you want it to protect your ID, Credit cards, Social security, passwords, etc. etc, etc. You want it. The Tesla analogy was terrible, you should have added that once installed by a third party hacker, the door handle would give you access to the car, your life, your friends etc.

    I remember the old days with windows “Security”, all you had to do was pop out the hard drive and put it in a new machine, and bang, you had access to everything on the drive. That security model proved worthless.

    I do agree that there ought to be a way to have someone “officially recognized”, check for your ID, etc, to be able to turn off Error 53,

  • me

    The touch ID has always been a gimmick with serious security limitations. (And now seemingly, a way for apple to fsck it’s customers once again)

    While the fingerprint scanner is enough to keep other people out of your phone, it does not protect you from government searches. You can be legally forced to unlock your phone using your fingerprint under the 5th amendment, while you can’t be legally forced to divulge a password.

  • Andy Beak

    Having an Apple product is a way to show that you can afford it. The whole point of dragging out the newest iPhone is to tell people that you’re wealthy and hip. Complaining that Apple is price gouging you by preventing competition amongst repair people is kind of lame. The whole point of owning an Apple product is to prop up your image, it’s like buying a prefaded pair of designer jeans and then complaining that they don’t look new.