Apple Finally Releases ‘Error 53’ Patch, Possibly in Effort to Mitigate Lawsuit

Apple Finally Releases 'Error 53' Patch, Possibly in Effort to Mitigate Lawsuit
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A few weeks ago it was reported that users were finding themselves stuck with a totally useless phone after getting it repaired by third party repair-people, with an error popping up called ‘Error 53,’ something that even Genius Bar employees couldn’t fix. Users were actually told that their device could no longer be used and that they would have to buy a new one.

Thankfully, however, Apple has released an update to iOS, called iOS 9.2.1, which essentially gets rid of the issue, restoring bricked devices and ensuring that the issue won’t happen in the future. Of course, it’s important to note that this is a patched version of iOS 9.2.1, not a new version of iOS in general. It’s also important to note that the update is not for users who update their phone over-the-air. Actually, users who generally do that shouldn’t have received the error in the first place. Instead, users will receive the update by plugging their device into their computer and updating the phone that way.


“Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory,” said Apple in a statement to TechCrunch.

The update is likely to help mitigate a class action lawsuit that has come up against Apple over Error 53, a lawsuit that popped up shortly after wide-scale media coverage of the error. Apple, of course, claims that the issue is related to factory testing of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and not something that customers should have faced.


It’s also important to mention that the update will not re-enable the Touch ID sensor on the phone. As mentioned in TechCrunch’s report, within Touch ID, fingerprint data is stored on a secure coprocessor that uses a secure boot process, ensuring that the the information is securely stored and not accessible when a third-party Touch ID sensor is installed – what this means is that if a third-party repair service installs a Touch ID sensor, then users won’t be able to use Touch ID at all.

This is actually a good thing, as it prevents malicious repair centers from being able to install sensors with the intentions of stealing user data. While disabling Touch ID is good when third-party sensors are installed, disabling the entire phone probably wasn’t the right way to go for the company.

Of course, if users do have an issue with their Touch ID home button, they can always get the home button replaced by Apple. This will, however, be far more expensive than simply going to a third-party repair service, however it will obviously retain use of the Touch ID button. As another option, users can now replace their home button by a third party service at a cheaper cost, however they will need to sacrifice use of Touch ID.

Consumer groups are very happy about the iOS update, suggesting that it really is a win for customers who previously would have feared having lost their phone.

“We’re thrilled, this is exactly what we were looking for,” said Kyle Wiens, from iFixit “The fact that they apologised is [also] exciting.”

Previously, Wiens had expressed concern over Error 53, arguing that the issue could be taken as Apple trying to cut out third party repair services, because of the fact that the error almost uniquely affected those that had taken their devices to third party services.

“I’m not ready to ascribe malicious intent to the problem, but their handling of it is certainly callous,” said Wiens in an interview with Fairfax Media. “They care more about their principles than their customers.”

Of course, not everyone believes that Apple really did install the error for device testing, with some instead arguing that the error indeed was installed to push out third-party services, but Apple saw the uproar over the issue and changed its mind.

Whatever the reason, the release of the update certainly is great for customers.

Learn More: Apple Could Be Facing Class Action Lawsuits Over ‘Error 53? Debacle

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