Some Apple iPhone 6 users have already or may experience a previously undocumented fault code designated Error 53 after updating to the newest Apple operating system. In simple terms, it means that your expensive new phone is likely toast, and Apple has said it won’t help you. Period. Any data you have on the phone is lost forever. Let’s hope you backed up your photos, data and contacts somewhere, because you will not be getting them off the phone.
And what caused this situation? Apple decided in its newest iPhone editions to assign a unique hardware code to the cabling and fingerprint scanning home button, components that are typically replaced when a cracked or shattered screen assembly is repaired. Because Paducah and western Kentucky is hours away from the nearest Apple stores in Nashville, Louisville and St. Louis, phone repair work is done by independent shops, not unlike having your car repaired at an independent local garage.
All that worked out fine for people who dropped their phones and had new home buttons and screens repaired in their iPhone 6 or 6s or 6+. It worked out fine until the newest Apple operating system update that recently rolled out. Then users who had phones repaired at independent shops (Apple terms them ‘unauthorized’) found out their phones were nuked and could not be booted or restored. Thousands of users whose phones worked perfectly one day and were toast the next, took to the web to complain. Apple’s response? Sorry, but this is a security feature to prevent unauthorized access to high levels of hardware encryption and to prevent hacking in the fingerprint scanner. Huh?
There are already two current security guards in place. To access the phone in the first place, the user will need a pass code. And users also have the authority to remotely the lock and wipe a lost or stolen phone through their cloud account. And keep in mind, owners claim the repaired phones in question worked perfectly until Apple updated the software. Even if some shops installed an authentic, genuine home button, users say it still displayed the error code because it was not “paired” with the rest of the phone’s brain, which only Apple can do.
Another question – what happens to independent repair shops that sprung up to serve customers in rural areas in the hinterlands far from Apple repair centers. Those shops and kiosks might repair the screens for $75 to $150, while bloggers are reporting that Apple wants $250+ to install the same “genuine” Apple parts. What happens to all of the screens these shops have replaced in good faith that were working fine until the newest operating system update? Are these shops going to have to issue refunds for all of the work they have done on newer iPhones? And what about third party warranty companies like Squaretrade which also had customer iPhones repaired? And what about all of the refurbished iPhone 6 units with replacement screens sold online at sites like eBay and Swappa. Will buyers there now will be clamoring for refunds? There have been some public questions about whether consumer protection laws have triggered.
And lastly, what about customers who brought iPhones and who live hours from repair centers. If their break a screen, do they now mail their phones in and wait several days for a service turnaround?
These are all questions that are likely to be answered in upcoming weeks. Perhaps Apple will rethink its decisions, or, somehow digitally authorize independent repair centers to do the work, or, maybe it’s all a misunderstanding, as these things sometimes are. One thing is for sure, for some users, the Apple IPhone experience just got more costly if they have to spring for a new phone to replace the one they now own that Apple immobilized. It could be the ultimate customer loyalty test.
You can read more on the controversy at Mashable.