7th February 2016

How much did you pay for your iPhone? Well this weekend iPhone users worldwide, and we are talking thousands, have been debating how much money they will have to fork out to replace their beloved handset. The problem, known as “error 53”, has been highlighted to appear on screen after users have upgraded to the latest Apple operating system, immobilising the handset and leaving your device useless and rendering it worthless!

Now some of you are probably panicking wondering whether or not this applies to you and whether or not you should have upgraded to the latest Apple operating system, otherwise known as iOS 9, when it was rolled out in the last quarter of 2015? The answer is two fold! No you probably shouldn’t panic, but yes you should have upgraded to iOS 9 for  the plethora of app enhancements, improvements in battery life and, ironically, security enhancements it offers. Whilst 99.9% of users who have already upgraded will probably never encounter a problem, if your iPhone has been repaired by a non-Apple engineer and you have wanted to upgrade to iOS 9 you may want to think twice.

The problem has been known to arise once devices have updated to the latest operating system after the phone has undergone a replacement of the Touch ID button by a third party. The Guardian recognised that Apple is aware of the problem but has done nothing to warn users that their phone will be ‘bricked’, effectively rendering the device as technologically useful as a brick! Whilst Apple charges £236 for a repair to the home button on an iPhone 6 in the UK, who can blame Apple customers for using third parties for a cheaper, and in some instances the only available, fix! A spokeswoman for Apple outlined that, in a matter of words overloaded with technical jargon, they protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor. When the phone is serviced by an Apple engineer that pairing is re-validated, effectively securing all of your data on that device. Without that unique pairing, a malicious Touch ID sensor could be substituted, gaining access to the secure enclave and consequently accessing all of your personal data. Whilst not all repairs will be directly to the Touch ID piece of hardware, servicing other components could also affect the pairing so customers are being advised to contact Apple support.

The best advice I can give, is to back up all of your data on the phone, and to think twice about getting it repaired in the first place by a third party. Given that most devices that find a regular place in our jeans pocket or backpack are continually increasing in price, and given that the latest iPhone 6 S Plus costs close to £700 here in the Channel Islands, iPhone users should be taking better precautions to protect their devices from any dangers that may occur to them on a day to day basis in the first place, so trips to the repair shop are less of a common occurrence!