Should you be afraid of the iPhone iOS 9.2.1 upgrade and 'Error 53'?

Yes, no, maybe - annoyed possibly.

Posted by Malcolm Hollingsworth on

There is a lot of media surrounding the latest iPhone update which has caused some phones to stop working and display an 'Error 53' message.

Here are the currently known facts.

  1. Only affects Apple devices
  2. iPhone 6 models only
  3. Began appearing when users upgraded to iOS 9.2.1
  4. It ONLY affects phones if;
    • They have been repaired
    • But not performed by Apple or an authorised repair service

If you have upgraded to iOS 9.2.1 and not needed a repair for your iPhone then you have no problems. Feel free to go about your business - nothing to see here.

You actually are seeing 'Error 53'

As far as Apple is concerned then you must have required a repair and chose not to use Apple themselves or one of their many authorised repair services.

The reason for this 'bricking effect' (your phone becomes as useful as a brick) is for your own protection. More accurately this is for the protection of the TouchID facility.

So the integrity of the TouchID hardware can be maintained, any changes to the the hardware or even detected repairs by someone without authorisation will cause this problem.

A spokesperson for Apple has clarified;

"We protect fingerprint data using a Secure Enclave, which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor."

What do you do now?

You can try and throw yourself on the mercy of the Apple staff in the distant hopes that this will change things. However; this has not proven to work in reality.

You are now the proud own of an expensive paperweight.

Is this fair?

Possibly yes, possibly no.

Apple maintains the reason you must use an authorised repair service is due to the phone not simply being a bundle of stock parts anymore. Think of your iPhone more like a modern car engine - so much of it is electronic that the days of tinkering at the weekend are long gone for most of us.

Lawyers in many countries have decided it is time for yet another class action lawsuit. The common argument being that restricting repairs to only those businesses authorised by directly by Apple would be a restriction of trade.

However as many industries have the same restrictions for similar reasons - it will be for the court to decide who is correct. Expect that answer to arrive around the same time as an iPhone 9 is launched.