Error 53: an iPhone story

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UPDATE (20/02/2016):
Apple have ‘fixed’ this issue with an update to their iOS.
Be aware that this does not fix the TouchID, so if your button has been replaced, TouchID will never work, but at least your phone is useable through the update.
Strangely, Apple have stated that this original error was a ‘testing’ error and was never suppose to be released into the public domain! Odd!

Its been a while since I’ve written anything. That’s mainly because I’m so busy at Jock IT with repairs that I simply don’t get the time to sit and write, and secondly because I don’t really have a lot to say that hasn’t already been said!

But after reading the report in the Guardian about this error, I felt I had to write about the inaccuracies of that report. I felt the report implied any 3rd party repair to any iPhone would render it useless. I had enquiries from everywhere about their repairs and all new enquiries were asking about this new error. Even iPad repairs were apparently skeptical!

So I thought I would put the record straight.
Firstly, this problem ONLY affects phones (and iPads) with the TouchID function – the home button with the ring around it (and no squircle on it). And the reason is because, quite rightly in my view, Apple have included some smart electronics on the home button which encrypts your fingerprint data as it enters the phone. And each button, and therefore the electronics, are paired with your particular phone. It makes absolute sense to do that as it is protecting some quite personal, sensitive data which is used on ApplyPay for example. Imagine the damage someone could do if they managed to copy your fingerprint data!?!

So, this error will ONLY affect you if the following conditions are ALL met:
– You have an iPhone (or an iPad) with the new TouchID function
– You have had the home button replaced with a 3rd party replacement
– You upgrade the iOS software to a newer version (and generally only version 9 and upwards)

Be aware that you need to meet ALL of the above conditions before you reach this error.
If you have an iPhone 6 for example, and you have had the button replaced, your phone will continue to operate normally, albeit that the TouchID will not function. If you then decide to upgrade the software, the phone will not proceed any further and the phone will become what’s known as ‘bricked’.

Normally, in fact almost always, when you require a screen replacement, your existing button should be transferred across with the new screen and this should not affect you. There are very few repairers who replace buttons with the screen, but you should ask.

Sometimes it is unavoidable that you need a new button. If that is the case, your TouchID will not work on the new button. I’m not even sure Apple can repair that and at a cost of £236(!), I think they might be giving away reconditioned phones. So if the TouchID is not important to you, then a 3rd party repair is fine, except when you decide to upgrade the software.

At Jock IT, in these circumstances, I will always store your old button, mark it with your name and the phone serial number and offer a free upgrade service to clients who fall into the above 3 conditions. If you ‘brick’ your phone following these conditions, you can bring your phone back to Jock IT and I will temporarily attach your old button, upgrade the software, then put the new button back on it. Your phone will be fine going forward.

Thankfully, there is some movement on this issue from Apple. Some lawyers in the USA (where else!) are thinking of taking a class action against Apple over this issue.
Some people will say that it would be fine if you just took the phone back to Apple. And yes, paying £236 for the repair is what you should accept with such an over-priced phone. But I would argue that if you buy a car from BMW, it is completely up to you where you get it serviced. Generally, you might go back to BMW for the service, but if you decide to go to Dave Brown’s Garage and get a decent job done, you wouldn’t expect BMW to then render you car useless and unusable, would you? That would be almost illegal! So why should Apple be able to do the same thing?? Its bad practice from Apple and yet another method of extracting even more money from the consumer – little more than they need too! If they developed good software, my view would be that the new software should recognise that there is a 3rd party home button on the phone and just render the TouchID useless and unusable?! Not completely brick your phone!