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Apple Is Fixing a Big Problem With iPhones

Feb 19, 2016

iPhones that have been rendered useless due to repairs by third-party vendors are finally getting a fix.

On Thursday Apple released an update to iOS 9 that fixes “error 53,” a mysterious issue that was disabling some users’ iPhones after they tried to get them repaired at local shops instead of going to Apple.

The issue, Apple says, is tied to the iPhone 6’s Touch ID system. The sensor for Touch ID, which lets users unlock their phones via fingerprint, resides on the iPhone’s home button. If users tried to replace a broken home button through a third party, the iPhone read this as a potential security threat and shut the phone down with the “error 53” message. The error ensures that vendors can’t install Touch-ID sensors that would help them steal user data, but it also limits customers' options for getting repairs. Apple faces a class-action lawsuit over the issue, according to The Guardian.

Now, iPhones with error 53 can be updated via iTunes and they should be operable again. Touch ID still won’t work for security reasons, but the phone can be unlocked with a passcode.

“We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers,” Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch. The company is offering reimbursements to customers who bought an out-of-warranty replacement device due to Error 53.

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