iPhone bricked by Error 53? Apple has a fix for that

iPhone Touch ID

Apple issued an update to iOS 9 today that brings with it a fix for the iPhone-bricking Error 53.

The fix included in iOS 9.2.1 will only work for users who updated their iPhone via iTunes, so over-the-air updaters are out of luck.

Error 53, you may remember/have experienced, is caused by third-party retailer repairs on iPhone Touch ID buttons and subsequent attempts by users to update or restore their iPhone. First detailed by The Guardian, the error was also reported to occur when users had a cracked iPhone screen replaced at a non-Apple Store location.

The error was intended to keep Touch ID data stored on an iPhone's Secure Enclave safe, however it ended up bricking phones that went in for repairs at unauthorized retailers.

If you've encountered Error 53, here's what you'll need to do. First, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes on your Mac or PC. Then, with your iPhone connected to your computer, force restart your phone and try restoring it again. Your phone should come back to life, but be advised: it won't restore its Touch ID function.

The leaders of tech teardowns at iFixit have also confirmed that the fix works. "Of course, if you don't have your data backed up, you'll have an empty phone, " they said, "but at least you'll have a working one."

If Error 53 still isn't going away, Apple suggests you contact Apple Support.

Apple apologized for any inconvenience caused by the error in a statement sent to TechCrunch.

"...this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers," the statement read. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement can contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.