Error 53: Apple could get sued over iPhone bricking

Apple has a thing for security, and, as is the case with anything with Apple, they’ve got their own outlook on what that means. Even if it means bricking devices.

Recently, it was discovered that Apple was “bricking,” or disabling, iPhones that had unauthorized retailers performing repairs on those handsets, and replacing authenticated parts with inauthentic pieces. Fore example, replacing the Home button from an unauthorized retailer, with parts not approved by Apple, would prompt an “Error 53” code, and essentially lock the device completely.

“At least one firm of US lawyers said it hopes to bring a class action against the technology giant on behalf of victims whose £500 phones have been rendered worthless by an Apple software upgrade,” the British paper said.

The effort is to keep the secure enclave, and the information stored therein, safe, and replacing that part with an inauthentic piece not approved by Apple would put the user at risk:

“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.”

Apple Store employees reportedly told the affected customers that nothing could be done and they must buy a new handset, prompting speculation that Error 53 isn’t as much a security measure as it is an attempt on Apple’s part to force people needing a repair to their Home button to service their handset in Apple Stores, which charge a premium for an official Home button replacement.

“We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops,” said PCVA in a statement.

“There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products. Think of it this way: let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself. That is wrong,” reads a post on the PCVA website.

This result is not all that surprising, considering how widely the reports have become since first cropping up. If you’ve suffered this error, do you think Apple should face a class-action lawsuit?


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