So many of iPhone 6 users claim that they have been left holding almost worthless phones because Apple’s latest operating system permanently disables the handset if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician.
The problem is known as "error 53" and a few people of outside the tech world are known of this problem and have appeared in Apple products before, but if it happens to you, you will know about it. And according to one specialist journalist, it “will kill your iPhone”.
The issue appears to affect handsets where the Touch ID home button, which has been repaired by a non-Apple Engineer the system is able to detect the non-standard component. This could potentially compromise the security of the iPhone, and Apple 'bricks’ or disables the device completely to protect users from any abuse. The problem could also arise if a component such as the display, which works in conjunction with the Touch ID, is replaced. To recall, when the Touch ID sensor is replaced by an Apple representative, the company ensures to revalidate the new component and the device. It has also reportedly affected customers whose phone has been damaged but who have been able to carry on using it without the need for a repair.
As we learned last week, iOS 9 generates "Error 53" when it detects that an iPhone has been repaired by a third-party. But the problem only arises when the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, ios 9, is installed. Indeed, the phone may have been working perfectly for weeks or months since a repair or being damaged.
Kyle Wiens of iFixit 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.”
Freelance photographer and self-confessed Apple addict Antonio Olmos says that a few weeks ago this happened to his phone after he upgraded his software. He had previously had his handset repaired while on an assignment for the Guardian in Macedonia. “I was in the Balkans covering the refugee crisis in September when I dropped my phone. Because I desperately needed it for work I got it fixed at a local shop, as there are no Apple stores in Macedonia. They repaired the screen and home button, and it worked perfectly.”
He says he thought no more about it, until he was sent the standard notification by Apple inviting him to install the latest software. He accepted the upgrade, but within seconds the phone was displaying “error 53” and was, in effect, dead.
When he says that he has spent thousands of pounds on Apple products over the years, took it to an Apple store in London, and the staff told him that there was nothing they could do, and thus his phone was now junk. He had to pay £270 for a replacement and is furious.
“The whole thing is extraordinary. How can a company deliberately make their own products useless with an upgrade and not warn their own customers about it? Outside of the big industrialized nations, Apple stores are few and far between, and damaged phones can only be brought back to life by small third-party repairers.”
“I am not even sure these third-party outfits even know this is a potential problem,” Olmos says.
Apple has confirmed that the error message is a "security measure" taken to prevent fraudulent transactions.
"We take customer security very seriously and error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device's other components," it said in a statement.
"If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used.”