Recently there have been lots of reports of iPhone 6’s mysteriously bricking themselves when upgrading to iOS9 and above – they all seem to be generating a mysterious “error 53” and all share one thing, they’ve all received non-Apple repairs.
Whats the deal with Error 53?
In a nut shell, Error 53 is invoked when a user that has previously had an iPhone 6 or 6+ home button replacement by a 3rd party, upgrades to iOS9.
Because quite a number of iOS’s inbuilt features rely on the Touch ID sensor to verify that the user is who they say they are, and maintain absolute security. When the upgrade to iOS9 takes place if the phone cannot see the touch ID sensor then the phone is rendered inoperable (for reasons of “security”).
This effectively means that if you have your phone repaired by a 3rd party or unauthorised repairer (i.e, anyone who isn’t Apple) who replaces either the home button, cable or in some instances the screen on your device then they unit will be rendered inoperable by this update.
I find Apples decision to implement “error 53” absolutely ludicrous. Apple are effectively driving 3rd party repairers out of business whilst forcing customers to use their own premium repair service. It is also technically against the law – in the UK it will come under The Criminal Damage Act 1971. If this was such a security issue then, if I were Apple, i’d just grey out any option that required the Touch Sensor to be working, such as Apple Pay.
The PCVA website (A law firm pursuing a class action lawsuit over this) sums it up nicely:
Think of it this way: Let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself.
I’ve been an Apple power user for the last 6 years, I do most of my work on a MacBook Pro, own an iPad 4 and an iPhone 5s. I’ve supported Macs in commercial and home environments and I’ve even picked up a ACSP qualification on the way. However, the lack of repairability, the locked down, closed nature of both the OSX and iOS and their arbitrary, almost dictatorial decisions on how, if and when end users can repair their devices means I’ve thoroughly fallen out of love with Apple.
The irony is that my mobile contract was recently up for renewal and I was pondering about upgrading to an iPhone 6, but i’m glad I’ve stuck with my venerable 5s for the time being. I was also considering investing in a 27 inch 5K iMac as a nice all in one workstation to run portions of my homelab – but that’s off the cards now.
iFixit have released a video on YouTube with the only known resolution to Error 53: