What’s Turning iPhones into Useless Bricks?

iPhone owners who use third-party repair services are finding their devices can suddenly become useless "bricks" after they update the iOS operating system. Apple confirmed yesterday that the disabling "Error 53" occurs because the company wants to prevent Touch ID-related security problems that could be introduced by unauthorized repairs.

Reports about the iPhone-killing Error 53 have circulated at least since the spring, when The Daily Dot's Mike Wehner wrote that his iPhone 6 Plus died after he disabled the device's Touch ID because of repeated problems with the feature. Following an update to iOS 8.3 not long afterward, Wehner saw this message on his phone, "An unknown error occurred (53)" and discovered his device had "breathed its last breath."

Since then, numerous iPhone users have described similar experiences on Twitter and Apple's online support forums. The Guardian reported today that complaints about the issue from iPhone 6 owners number in the "thousands." Apple confirmed the cause of the disabling Error 53 in a statement to The Guardian.

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Apple has not yet responded to our request for comment about the Error 53 complaints. However, a support page on the Apple site last updated on December 21 advised iPhone owners with the problem to contact Apple Support.

"If your iOS device has Touch ID (pictured above), iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor matches your device's other components during an update or restore," the page noted, adding that this is intended to ensure security for iOS features related to Touch ID. "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."

The support page advised iPhone or iPad owners who had their devices serviced by people other than Apple Service Center technicians,...

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