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'Error 53' threatens to brick your iPhone 6 without warning

An update on Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9, has been the cause of recent permanent breakdown of many iPhone handsets around the world.

A large number of people who have installed the latest software update for the OS have been welcomed with 'Error 53,' which reportedly kills an iPhone 6 for good, with no way to reset or recover. The issue is reportedly rooted in the handset's home button. If the said button, which has Touch ID recognition built-in, has been modified or repaired by a "non-official" Apple company or individual, the error message will show up bricking a user's phone for good. Owners who merely dropped their phone and had a portion of the phone damaged, and then tried to upgrade to iOS 9 without having it properly repaired were also affected.

With the error message displayed, a user can do nothing to save the phone. The error message will persist, and all the data that was on the phone will not be retrievable anymore.

Apple was reportedly aware of the problem, but has taken no steps towards fixing the problem or warning users about the roadblock when updating their phone's software.

One of the people who were affected, Antonio Olmos, a freelance photographer on assignment for The Guardian, had his phone repaired in a local shop while covering an event in Macedonia. When prompted with the update, he accepted, but realized after that the phone has been bricked, with the 'Error 53' message showing up.

When he took it to an Apple Store, he was informed that there was nothing that can be done. Olmos finally resorted to buying a replacement device, which set him back £270.

The issue seems to not be an isolated case, as doing a search online will return results of many similar cases. Issues of how a phone was merely dropped can be found, as well as having the home button repaired by a non-Apple technician. All the cases resulted to "Error 53," leading users to a dead end for their iPhones.

According to Kyle Wiens from iFixit, a company specializing in tech repair, the problem occurs when the third-party technician modifies the components of the home button. Upon the software update, the system checks if all the phone's parts are still intact. If not, it will simply lock the user out of the phone.

Wiens, in an interview with The Guardian, is exploring the idea that the error message could be a deliberate move. "All along, Apple’s view is that it does not want third parties carrying out repairs to its products, and this looks like an obvious extension of that,” he said.

An Apple spokesperson has opened up to The Guardian about the issue. She 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.”

Lastly, she stated that 'Error 53' is caused by a pairing failure within the touch ID, which is due to invalid components used for the handset. She advises users who encounter such an error when upgrading to just contact Apple to have the device checked up.

Source: The Guardian

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