Apple has confirmed that the “Error 53” issue, reported by the Guardian this morning, was purposefully developed as a security measure.
It’s struck users trying to update their operating system to the newest version, iOS9. If a non-Apple technician has carried out repairs to the touch recognition system on the home button, the phone risks locking down.
Apple’s plan was to protect users who have had their iPhones stolen: if a stolen phone can’t be accessed by a replaced TouchID, the user data is more 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.
The problem, of course, as thousands of Apple users are now vehemently pointing out, is that Apple failed to properly inform iOS9 upgraders about this, meaning that many consumers who’d turned to third parties to repair their smartphone have now been left with useless devices, without warning.
Apple has advised affected users to get in touch with Apple Support.