iPhone Error 53 – Don’t worry, we’re still friends

by bold-lichterman

Dear clients, lifeguards, followers and others, 🙂

I believe that even today, I received over fifty articles about the famous iPhone error 53. This error code that detects a non-original Apple part.

In Save, we repair around 250 devices per hour and in Europe. About half a million units per year. I think there is no technical challenge that we have not encountered and resolved.

In fact at Save, we are very surprised to hear about this story only now. We’ve known about error 53 for a long time, since the release of touch ID on iPhone (since iPhone 5S). So it’s been almost 3 years.

Apple tells us, “We created this error code for security reasons. We are very aware of the importance of phone data and the fact that it must be tamper-proof. Our mission is to protect them and that is the interest of error 53. ” And they are right! Remember, today your fingerprint is your credit card! (see Apple Pay)

Important: the code of your fingerprint is not saved in your motherboard. It is saved directly on the Touch ID chip. This means that if there was no such security, we could take two iPhones apart, swap the Touch IDs and have access to the data on the other iPhone.

Apple totally locks the phone with error 53 in 3 cases:

If the touch ID installed on the iPhone is not exactly the one paired with the motherboard.

If you disconnect the Touch ID while the phone is still on. (In most of the cases)

If the touch ID is damaged during disassembly of the device.

Does this mean that Apple is able to detect a component which is not original on the iPhone?

Yes quite!

But this is nothing new. This has already been the case for several years. Some components are completely paired with each other. The battery, the screen, the motherboard, the Touch ID …

We do not even talk about the originality of the components or not. They even detect the component coming from another iPhone.

For example, we could take two iPhones out of their boxes, swap the screens and Apple would detect it.

Are they then able to block them?

Yes quite!

With just one iOS update, they could destroy nearly a hundred million iPhones. Will they do it? Of course not. When I see the bad buzz of Error 53 that they are going through, it would be shooting themselves in the foot. Especially on such a major product which costs more than 600 euros each.

Would they at least have the right?

Not really.

There are many laws that help protect the consumer of electronic products. Having the right to repair your device yourself or have it repaired by a third party is one of them. You must have full disposal of the product when you buy it and you have full disposal of electronic components.
In markets more mature than smartphones, we have already seen this kind of fight. In the automobile, for example. When you buy a car you can repair it yourself if you want and with parts that are not necessarily stock parts. And you can of course have it repaired in a garage other than the manufacturer’s.

There even came a time when car manufacturers were making completely enclosed cars using computer technology. What happened? Consumer associations have risen to sue them. You must take full advantage of the good you have bought. One of these rights is to modify it as you see fit. The manufacturer can only cancel the product warranty explaining that it only guarantees the “normal” use of the car.

It’s exactly the same with electronics … and iPhones.