Recently, we’ve seen a whole bunch of articles in the news about how iPhones that have been repaired by third party service providers and that Error 53 means your phone is bricked. Though a part of this is true, there is a lot of noise around this and having building a company around repairs and service which help our customers, I felt its my duty to write out the facts from the fiction – and also give suggestions on what to do if you are stuck and what to do, so you can avoid being stuck in this situation altogether! So if you’re stuck with Error 53, here’s what you need to know and do right away:
Some Basics & Background
Apple makes the iPhone 5s (onwards) with the fingerprint sensor integrated home button – known as the Touch ID. All future models carried this feature and it was meant to integrate, authenticate your personal identity with security of the your data, transactions and more in the future.
Unfortunately, in the process what they did (and I’ll explain more on this later) is that this Touch ID was paired with the motherboard of that particular iPhone. Which meant that if you were to, say, interchange the Touch ID of 2 iPhone 5s phones, it would not function since it would not authenticate with the hardware it is paired with.
Now this wasn’t so much a problem since in the iPhone 5s, one could replace the home button cable (which was the whole clicking function of going back to the home screen etc.) fairly easily and that meant when people wanted to change the screen or home button, we could reuse the Touch ID part and all would be well.
Things got a little complicated with the iPhone 6 (onwards). Apple makes beautiful hardware inside and outside – and in the process integrates many of the parts to make it more compact, sometimes making it harder/more expensive to repair independently (read all about the changes from MacBook Pro to Retina).
This wasn’t so much an issue until, a while later, when the internal mechanical home button started going bad and people tried changing it with an aftermarket part (since the initial part is paired and cannot be easily separated from the Touch ID like in the 5s). Now, what happened next was unexpected (like the iPhone 4s Wi-Fi Greyed Out Issue which some of you may recall was caused via iOS updates). During an iOS update, the iPhone authenticates with the Touch ID and if your Touch ID only (not Screen or LCD) has been repaired or replaced, it fails to do so and causes the notorious Error 53.
This is unfortunate because the only way around is to, somehow, get back your older Touch ID, refix it and do the update. Else try to get it repaired from another vendor (it’s hard but not impossible – we’ve had some success in fixing this hence can speak from experience).
Apple avoids this issue since they can reprogram the Touch ID to work with the new hardware or they replace your phone altogether with a refurbished one hence no question of the error coming in the picture. Of course, that comes at a higher cost for the convenience.
TL;DR Cheat Sheet
Let me summarize what you can do and what’s not recommended so you are not stuck with an iPhone (or an iPad) that shows up with Error 53.
- If your Screen or LCD is damaged and you take it to a third party repair service (we change plenty everyday), just make sure your old Touch ID is reused and is not replaced. As simple as that.
- If your Home button isn’t working, an alternate is to use assistive touch on your device so you can have the home button functionality. Its not as seamless but is better than having a bricked phone.
- If you do end up changing/repairing your Touch ID, make sure to keep the old part with you in case were to need it in the future. Keep it safe!
- Ideally, do not change your Touch ID part altogether.
- If your home button stops working and you really do want to change the Touch ID part, then make sure you do not update your iOS to the higher version. Stick with the current one.
- This applies only to iOS devices with the Touch ID functionality.
- Older iPhones (5, 4s etc) and iPads (3, 4 etc.), which do not have the Touch ID feature, are not impacted by this.
- If you do end up getting stuck with this issue, as mentioned earlier, we have had some level of success in fixing it and can give it a go. Doesn’t always work but since it’s stuck anyway, no harm trying.
Generally Apple frowns upon third party service providers who repair devices and there are always things like this that keep coming up to discourage people from doing so. But remember, you own the device and have the freedom to do what you please – just be aware of the facts and choose the right set of folks you get your device repaired with. From our part, we shall always try to keep educating you as a consumer can make an informed choice. Hope this helps!