Apple has released an updated version of iOS 9.2.1, exclusively for Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads. The new version, installable only via iTunes, addresses the “Error 53” message that some iOS users received after having their iPhones repaired by third-party services with aftermarket parts.
Users who had their iPhones repaired at unauthorized service centers reported receiving the “Error 53” message following repairs. the error was due to non-matching components that were used in the repairs, causing the device to fail a Touch ID validation check.
When the Touch ID validation failed during the iOS update or restore, the iPhone was automatically disabled, in a sense, “bricking” it, to protect Touch ID and the related security enclave that stores customer fingerprint information.
When the issue was first reported, Apple explained the error was intentional, as a way to prevent the use of a malicious Touch ID sensor. Affected customers were not happy with Apple’s explanation, and a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple over the issue.
The update issued today will restore iPhones and iPads affected by the “Error 53” issue to full working condition, and should ensure the devices will not be fully disabled in the future by similar repairs. However, Touch ID will not be accessible.
An Apple Support Document explains how the “Error 53” problem can be fixed:
If you see error 53 or can‘t update or restore your iPhone or iPad
Follow these steps to get help updating or restoring your iPhone or iPad.
If your iOS device has Touch ID, iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor matches your device’s other components during an update or restore. This check keeps your device and the iOS features related to Touch ID secure.
When iOS finds an unidentified or unexpected Touch ID module, the check fails. For example, an unauthorized or faulty screen replacement could cause the check to fail.
If the check on Touch ID fails, your update won’t finish. You’ll see a Connect to iTunes screen on your device or a message like this in iTunes on your computer: The iPhone [device name] could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (53).
Follow these steps
- Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes.
- Force restart your device.
- Try to restore your device again.
- If you still see error 53 when you try to restore your device, contact Apple Support. If the restore won’t finish and you see a different error code, learn what to do.
If you got your screen or other parts replaced
If the screen on your iPhone or iPad was replaced at an Apple Service Center, Apple Store, or Apple Authorized Service Provider, contact Apple Support. If the screen or any other part on your iPhone or iPad was replaced somewhere else, contact Apple Support about pricing information for out-of-warranty repairs.
Apple issued the following apology, via TechCrunch.
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.
Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
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.
The updated version of iOS 9.2.1 is available only through iTunes and is not for customers who update their devices over the air. The update can be downloaded on the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2, and iPad Pro.