Apple's "Error 53" has been in the news a lot lately, plaguing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users by turning their shiny phones into very expensive paperweights when they update to iOS 9. In most cases, this error results in data being lost forever, with no recovery fix known.
Unfortunately, for those who have experienced it, their only solution seems to be to shell out the big bucks and buy a brand new phone. So what should you do to avoid it; and do you have any recourse if affected?
How Can You Tell If Your Phone is a Brick Waiting to Happen?
Though most cases seem to be stemming from users who have had their home buttons repaired, some who have had screens replaced are seeing it as well. Either way, if the work was done via a third-party, and then the owner tries to update their phone to iOS 9, it's likely they'll run into this error.
Apple says this is caused by a security feature put into place to protect users from thieves snagging their phones and using illicit Touch ID scanners. But customers are asking why this feature doesn't actually "protect" anything until an update is performed. Theoretically a thief could replace the ID scanner and use the phone continuously without updating, giving them ample time to collect all your sensitive data.
In any event, don't use third-party repairs (at least for now). Even regardless of this current issue, it's better to rely on Apple for repairs to preserve your warranty. And if you've already had an unauthorized third-party repair, it's best to avoid upgrading to iOS 9 for as long as you can.
My Phone Is Worthless?! How Can I Fix It?!
There have been some who claim a fix for Error 53 is incredibly rare. The blog iCracked details a way that you can replace your third-party parts with your original home button setup (since apparently reprogramming home buttons is not high on Apple's to-do list). You're still basically taking a chance, but the only other option is buying a new phone.
Unless, that is, certain rumors turn out to be true. In response to some major negative media attention, Apple is supposedly giving stores permission to replace unauthorized parts. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there is no official list of retail stores that are performing these repairs (the service isn't available at all locations). On top of that, the fix isn't free — it's still going to cost you the out-of-warranty price, on top of what you already paid for the third-party mend. At least it's cheaper than outright buying a new iPhone, though.
It should be noted that there is at least one lawsuit in the works. A big part of the argument is not just that Apple has made so many iPhones completely inoperative, but also that they didn't warnusers that due to repairs, a new update would make their phones worthless.
One barrister in London believes Apple's action might violate UK law. And in Seattle, one law firm is currently building a case for a class action suit, inviting any who have experienced "Error 53" to contact them. Even if these lawsuits succeed, you will not receive money for years, but it could help reimburse you down the road.
This article first appeared in DealNews