Apple has finally acknowledged the existence of “Error 53” and has since apologised for the issue. Apart from that, the company has since released an updated version of iOS 9.2.1 to fix the problem. Many iPhones have been rendered useless from “Error 53” and it’s probably the worst problem any Apple user could face.
“Error 53” affects iPhones and iPads that have had their Touch ID-enabled home button fixed by a non-Apple repair provider. These repair shops usually replace the connector between the Touch ID sensor in an Apple device’s home button, and that’s when “Error 53” will prevent the device from starting up.
To fix the issue, Apple has published a support page for those who have fallen victims to “Error 53”. The company has also released an updated version of iOS 9.2.1 for users to update their devices through iTunes. Take note that this update is not for users who have updated their iPhones over-the-air (OTA) via iCloud – these users wouldn’t get “Error 53” in the first place.
By installing this update, users will be able to restore their Error 53-bricked phones and tablets and also prevent them from being disabled (if their cable gets replaced by a third party repair shop) in the future. The update, however, will not re-enable Touch ID.
Touch ID data is stored in what Apple calls a “secure enclave”, which cannot be accessed by the rest of the iPhone – or Apple itself. The phone generates ephemeral keys in order to access this information when Touch ID is activated to check its security information. Apple’s original patch was originally issued to prevent malicious repair shops from installing a component that could read the data as the phone processes it. In other words, Apple is right for disabling Touch ID; but it is also wrong for it to not notify its users regarding the issue.
Users should get their home buttons replaced by Apple if they want to regain (or retain) Touch ID functionality. However, if the repair doesn’t fit the budget, users can still get the button fixed elsewhere without the worry of bricking their device.