iPhone Error 53 Is A Deadly Security Feature - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile // Mobile Applications

iPhone Error 53 Is A Deadly Security Feature

iPhone users are seeing a new twist on the dreaded "Error 53" screens, which signals a smartphone is beyond repair. Apple reportedly notes that Error 53 is the result of a Touch ID security feature designed to protect users.

9 Biographies Of Tech Icons You Should Know
9 Biographies Of Tech Icons You Should Know
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple iPhone users with an enabled Touch ID thumbprint reader are at risk of encountering the dreaded "Error 53" screen, which indicates the device has been rendered useless, according to a report in The Guardian.

This problem rears its ugly head when a user relies on a third-party repair shop to fix the iPhone or iPad and that shop replaces the Touch ID sensor button. When the next iOS update rolls around, that's when the Error 53 screen will likely appear.

In a statement emailed to InformationWeek on Monday, Feb. 8, an Apple spokesperson noted:

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. 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. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support.

(Image: Peter Burnett/iStockphoto)

(Image: Peter Burnett/iStockphoto)

Apple user Adalegit encountered this trouble last year, for example. In a post on Apple's support community page, Adalegit said:

I have recently broken my iPhone screen and got it fixed with a different company. This is due to apple wanting to charge me almost half the cost of the iPhone six (300/350 euro), which is crazy for someone who is in college, even the people in the shop I bought it in told me fixing it somewhere else would be ok. I got my screen fixed and for some time it was working normally, however I could not update my phone. "error 53" kept showing up on my screen when I attempted to install and update and also when I connected it to iTunes. One day the iPhone switched off and all my data was wiped off my phone without any notice. the 'connect to iTunes' came up on the screen, I connected it however iTunes kept showing an error message (53). I handed it to the shop I got it from but supposedly I do not have a warranty for it anymore because I got my screen fixed elsewhere. I googled the error code online and supposedly this error pops up when iPhones notice a change in the iPhone (home button/screen etc.) . Now I am left with no iPhone or data, my phone does not turn on anymore. I don't know what to do, Apple seems to be forcing people to spend a large amount of money on a simple repair, which I simply could not afford. Does that mean my iPhone six is gone? Or maybe is there some solution?

However, over the years, the fatal Error 53 messages have popped up on Apple iPhones, iPads, and iPods for other reasons other than the Touch ID sensor, as noted by the grumblings on the Apple Support Communities page.

[Read about getting a refund for cracked or broken iPhone.]

When that happens, as in the case of the Touch ID sensor, iPhone and iPad users whose device is no longer under warranty, or whose device is still under warranty but has third-party hardware installed on it, will find themselves out of luck in getting a free replacement device. They will be required to shell out money for another device.

That's because under Apple's terms and conditions, third-party hardware on their Apple device will not be covered under Apple's warranty.

Does your company offer the most rewarding place to work in IT? Do you know of an organization that stands out from the pack when it comes to how IT workers are treated? Make your voice heard. Submit your entry now for InformationWeek's People's Choice Award. Full details and a submission form can be found here.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/8/2016 | 6:35:37 PM
Pick your poison
It's this type of vertical control that's hard to take with Apple. It's also what has kept the iPhone and other Apple devices more secure than some of their Windows and Android contemporaries. Pick your poison. 
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll