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Brick No More: Apple Releases Error 53 iPhone Fix

If Error 53 turned your iPhone into a lifeless brick, help has arrived in the form of a software update from Apple.

Apple released a new build of iOS 9.2.1 today (Feb. 18) specifically to revive iPhones rendered inoperable by Error 53. The update only appears in iTunes. Apple also posted an updated support page that explains what to do if you run into Error 53 and why it causes your phone to enter the land of unending slumber.

Error 53 gained wide attention earlier this month after a report in The Guardian claimed that thousands of users were left with bricked iPhones after installing an iOS update.

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The culprit turned out to be a security feature Apple built into its mobile operating system. On phones with Apple's Touch ID fingerprint recognition feature, iOS checks to make sure that the Touch ID sensor matches other parts of your phone whenever you run an update or restore your device. That ensures the sensitive data stored within Touch ID — your credit card information, to name a biggie — stays locked away should someone try to hack the fingerprint sensor.

The problem typically flared up when users got repair work done on their iPhone by unauthorized service providers. Because those unauthorized repair centers didn't revalidate the pairing between the Touch ID sensors and the rest of the phone, it triggered Error 53 and a long goodnight for affected iPhones.

Note that while this new version of iOS 9.2.1 will revive a bricked iPhone, the Touch ID features will remain disabled.

In a statement supplied to TechCrunch, Apple said Error 53 resulted from a test used before iPhones are shipped from a factory to ensure that Touch ID is working properly. "We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers," Apple told TechCrunch. The company says iPhone users who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement for their phones because of Error 53 issues should contact AppleCare about getting reimbursed.