Error 53 – New Update Bricks Repaired iPhones

Error 53 is the new nightmare for iPhone users. Wondering what it is? Read on!

Being the profitable organization Apple is, it seems like they just cannot get enough of it. Right from proprietary connectors to home-brewed applications (Apple music against Spotify), Apple is trying to milk money out of everything. In spite of Apple being a great device maker, it is hard to see any kind of customer loyalty from them.

The latest feature added to Apple’s new update is the ability to brick some iPhones with a pleasing Error 53 message. Antonio Olmos, a freelance photographer along with many others fell victim to this new “feature” that irrecoverably bricked his iPhone, the only reason being that it was repaired in a non-authorised repair shop.

Antonio was also pleasantly surprised to find out that all the data he lost could not be recovered unless he already has a cloud backup (which is kind of pointless, if he already has a “backup”, why would he need to “recover it”). Upon taking the handset to the authorised service centre, Antonio found out that the only way to own an iPhone again would be to buy a new one.

Error 53

As with all the things Apple does, it takes pride in its new feature and has constructed a beautiful statement filled with jargons and euphemism which basically implies: “Buy parts from us or you’re screwed!”. Here is the actual statement:

“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure… When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”

The Honest Bottom Line

The Error 53 message is just another one of those Apple jargons. The very fact that a generic “error” message is displayed instead of a detailed statement with a choice indicates that Apple has lost its style. It is pretty much possible that this is a breakage in functionality instead of an intentionally implemented one, which Apple covered up with a jargon-filled statement.

Buying an iPhone is in itself a huge feat for many and topping that off with additional charges for repairs is just borderline greedy. Most users opt for non-authorised service centers because they cannot afford to pay $200 to get a simple home button repaired and locking them out of their own device is adding insult to the injury. Repair that home button four times and you have effectively paid the entire price for the handset all over again.

As pointed out by The Guardian, why is it not legal for automobile manufacturers to insist their parts and service on their customers, but it is perfectly fine for an organization like Apple to do the same to their devices?

The Touch ID logic is flawed as well. Apple could have just moved the processing and storing part to a different location from the home button. It also begs the question, if the Touch ID is really all that “secure”, it shouldn’t be easier for third party to access the enclosed information. After all, if you lose an iPhone, the Touch ID goes with it too. How can Apple ” re-validate” the pairing (as mentioned in their statement) without the actual user’s fingerprint? Maybe their Touch ID is not all that secure after all.

If this is not a wake-up call to all those loyal Apple fans, we do not know what is. In the interest of our readers, we advise you to hold off updating your device to the new and shiny iOS at least until this issue is resolved and if your phone is already bricked by this new “feature”, it might not be a bad time to jump boats.