Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the TidBITS Content Network for Apple consultants.

Apple Issues New iOS 9.2.1 to Fix Error 53

We’ve been following the saga of Error 53, the mysterious error message that’s been rendering iOS devices unusable. Last week, Error 53 was traced to mismatches between the Touch ID sensor and the Secure Enclave coprocessor, caused by repairs performed by technicians not authorized by Apple (see “What “Error 53” Means for the Future of Apple Repairs,” 15 February 2016). Thankfully, Apple has now issued a fix for affected users.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple explained itself:

We apologize for any inconvenience, 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.

To address the problem, Apple has issued a new version of iOS 9.2.1 specifically for those with this issue. Unless you force a restore in iOS, you will not receive this update, nor do you need it.

If you’re seeing Error 53, try restoring your device via iTunes by connecting it to your computer with a USB-to-Lightning cable, opening iTunes, clicking the iPhone (or iPad) button, and then clicking Restore iPhone (or iPad). Check Software Update to be sure you have the latest version of iTunes before restoring.


If you see an error message when you try to restore your device, a new Apple support article recommends performing a force restart on the iOS device, by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons until you see the Apple logo. After that, try restoring with iTunes again.

While this fix will make an Error 53-afflicted device operable again, Touch ID will not function, as it shouldn’t, given that its pairing with the Secure Enclave has been compromised. If you saw Error 53 after Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider repaired your device, contact Apple Support for a free repair or replacement. However, if your device was repaired outside of official Apple channels, you’ll have to pay Apple the out-of-warranty repair price to restore Touch ID, which should run between $109 and $149.

We hope this fix makes its way into the upcoming iOS 9.3 as well, so users who have had their screens or home buttons repaired by independent technicians will be able to update in the future without worrying about Error 53.

 

PDFpen and PDFpenPro 9 add 100+ enhancements to improve your PDF
editing experience, with annotations, Tables of Contents, and more
export options. For PDF reviewing, editing, signing, redacting and
exporting, PDFpen has you covered. <http://smle.us/pdfpen9-tb>
 

Comments about Apple Issues New iOS 9.2.1 to Fix Error 53
(Comments are closed.)

B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-02-23 08:25
Wow! This was a factory test and was not intended to affect customers? Well, isn't that just swell. Instead of being an on-purpose security update that had unintended consequences because Apple didn't warn anybody about it, it was an accidental update that shows just how incompetent Apple has become. This would also explain why they didn't warn anyone—it took Apple as much by surprise as it did their customers.

I've said this before, but Apple doesn't do quality control any more, not even for their premier, best selling product.

Thanks Josh for publicizing the possible fixes for error 53 impaired iPhones. But has anyone tested any of these fixes to see if they actually work? Up till now it's been reported that iPhones bricked by error 53 would not respond to attempts to reset them. What's changed in that equation?

I hope you will continue to cover this story as it is obviously not over.

I'm also concerned how this will affect Tim Cook's credibility as he battles the FBI over providing access to that terrorist's iPhone. If he's oblivious to how badly Apple's quality control has deteriorated, is he really competent to defend Apple on anything? It seems to me he's way too out-of-touch to be a believable spokesperson. He really does need to put some clothes on before he steps out in public again.