The problem was related to Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader which is part of the home button and can be used to unlock the device rather than inputting a passcode.
If a non-Apple repairer replaced the button on a damaged iPhone or iPad a subsequent update of the operating system detected a non-standard component and shut down the device, with no way to restart it.
The fury of thousands of affected users who had had damaged phones repaired only to find they were later unexpectedly ‘bricked’ when updating the operating system was highlighted by the Guardian earlier this month.
At the time Apple said that Error 53 was a security feature to protect customers. It said: “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.”
Issuing a fix with an updated version of its operating system iOS 10.9.2, Apple told the tech site TechCrunch that it apologised for any inconvenience to customers. It added: “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 fix will let users with disabled iPhones clear the error by connecting them to iTunes and installing the updated iOS. The update can not be applied directly to the phone via the cloud, but iPhones updated in that way were unaffected.
Solving Error 53 does not re-enable Touch ID, which would be a security issue after a third party replacement, potentially allowing unauthorised access to a locked phone by modifying the fingerprint sensor.
The fix comes as the security of Apple’s devices is at the centre of a standoff between the company and the US government over access to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers.
This article was written by Jonathan Haynes, for theguardian.com on Friday 19th February 2016 06.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010