The problem occurs when your home button with fingerprint detection has been replaced by a non-official technician and is then upgraded to the latest iOS 9 firmware.
After installation a growing number of people have watched in horror as their phone, which may well have cost them £500-plus, is rendered useless. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable.
Kyle Wiens from iFixit explains. “The ‘error 53’ page on our website has had more than 183,000 hits, suggesting this is a big problem for Apple users,” he told Guardian Money. “The problem occurs if the repairer changes the home button or the cable. Following the software upgrade the phone in effect checks to make sure it is still using the original components, and if it isn’t, it simply locks out the phone. There is no warning, and there’s no way that I know of to bring it back to life.”
A spokeswoman for Apple said: “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.”
She added: “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.”
It's unclear how Apple plans to address this problem. If you've contacted Apple Support about this issue, let us know what their response has been in the comments...
Please follow iClarified on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or RSS for updates.