Apple iOS Update Fixes iPhone-Crippling Error 53 Bug

Apple has issued an updated version of iOS 9.2.1 specifically for iPhone users who encountered the once mysterious "error 53" message that left their handsets unusable. The update restores bricked iPhones and disables the security check that could cause an Error 53 message, which Apple says was never intended to affect customers.

A freelance photographer for The Guardian first discovered the error 53 code after dropping his phone and getting it fixed at a local repair shop. The screen and home button on his iPhone worked marvelously after the repair, but once he upgraded to iOS 9, the error 53 code appeared and he was unable to use his phone. An Apple Store employee told him it was unrecoverable and that he'd have to buy a new handset.

iPhone 6s Touch ID

After news of his incident spread, Apple issued a statement saying the error 53 code shows up if an iPhone fails a security check related to Touch ID. The security check was meant to ensure that the device and all features related to Touch ID, like Apple Pay, remain secure. Apple further explained that having iPhones repaired at unauthorized shops and/or with invalid components could trigger the code. That's because screen replacements often come as all-in-one kits that include the display panel, front glass, front camera, home button, and Touch ID sensor to make repairs easier.

In a newly released support document on Apple's website, the Cupertino outfit explains the causes and possible repair steps for users encountering the error 53 message. Apple also issued a statement and apology to TechCrunch.

"We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement," Apple said.

One thing to keep in mind is that Apple's update won't restore the Touch ID functionality if there's a third-party sensor in place.