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article imageApple confirms third-party repairs will leave iPhone 6 dead

By James Walker     Feb 5, 2016 in Technology
Apple has confirmed that getting a third-party repair shop to replace the home button or Touch ID sensor on an iPhone 6 will 'brick' the device and leave it unusable. Owners have reacted angrily to what Apple calls a "security feature."
The "bricking" only began when Apple launched iOS 9. Users were advised to upgrade to the new operating system but found their device dead to the world once installed. If the software detects the fitted home button or Touch ID sensor isn't the original part for the phone, it locks itself down and displays an "error 53" message.
Many owners had been using their phones for months before the update. Third-party repair places often charge considerably less than authorised Apple resellers, making them a popular way to fix a broken iPhone.
People who have had third-party attention to their iPhone's home button have been left with an effectively worthless device after updating iOS. Currently, there is no known method to enable the system once "error 53" has been triggered. iOS locks itself down and refuses to start.
In November 2015, phone repair service iCracked published an article on the problem. Writer Reuben Esparza asked Apple store employees for an explanation but got none. They explained "there was no part they would replace, no software fix, and no way to access the phone's memory." The only suggested fix was to buy a new iPhone.
Today, Apple confirmed the existence of error 53 to The Guardian, explaining it is designed to protect against Touch ID or Apple Pay becoming compromised. The user's identity is stored in a secure enclave paired to the Touch ID sensor. Without the pairing, it would be possible to fit a substitute Touch ID sensor and gain access to the phone.
This has the unfortunate consequence of making repairs to the sensor or home button impossible without visiting an Apple Store. Repair shops don't have access to the technology used to re-validate the Touch ID pairing after fitting a new button or disconnecting the cable, forcing users to visit Apple.
Apple said to the Guardian: "When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support."
Inevitably, this hasn’t gone down too well with users or DIY phone repairers. The move could force small repair firms out of business and leave owners unable to go anywhere but a costly Apple Authorised Repairer. Failure to do so results in a completely useless device that can’t even be sold on.
The Guardian established that taking an iPhone 6 to a UK Apple Store for a home button repair would cost £236, an extortionate amount that could be used to buy a new phone. A local repair shop would likely offer a while-you-wait service for well under £100.
The repair community still hasn't successfully cracked the error 53 code. Kyle Wiens, responsible for running popular tech repair website iFix, told the Guardian that the relevant page on his site has over 183,000 views, indicating the scale of the problem. Wiens confirmed that the vast iFixit community hasn't yet found a way to get past the error, saying "there's no way that I know of to bring it back to life."
More about Apple, iPhone, iphone 6, Repair, touch ID
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