Users across the internet are complaining that their iPhones have fallen victim to “Error 53”, which shows up on the phone’s screen and prevents it from doing anything else. There appears to be no way of getting rid of the problem, short of getting a whole new handset.
The error appears to happen when the phone detects that it has been repaired by a third-party. If unofficial parts are put into the phone, it will detect it and then shut the phone down entirely, according to reports.
The issue appears to be limited to Apple’s most recent major software update, iOS 9. But it works retroactively, so that phones that have been repaired in the past could break as soon as they are updated to the new operating system.
The problems have been occurring since that update was pushed out late last year, it seems.
‘Error 53’ is related to repairing the home button, which also includes the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The problems appear to occur because Apple wants to ensure that the hardware — which is used to get access to everything on the phone as well as to make payments — stays safe.
The data from the fingerprint is stored within its own special area of the phone, Apple told the Guardian. With an Apple repair, the connection between the phone and the sensor will be re-checked — but third-party repairs won’t do that, and the phone will therefore shut itself down to ensure that it stays safe.
“Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave,” Apple told the Guardian. “When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.
“If the problem occurs, Apple suggests making sure that the phone is plugged in to the latest version of iTunes. If that doesn’t fix the phone, then users should force restart it by holding down both the sleep button and the home button until it reboots. Then users should try again to restore it through iTunes.