Law firm moving forward with class action lawsuit over ‘Error 53’ iPhone bricking

By , Feb 12, 2016

iPhone 6 space gray Touch ID

Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertexes Amala (PCVA) has decided to follow through with plans to drag Apple to court over software safeguards in iOS which have been specifically designed to render iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets inoperable after unauthorized Touch ID and Home button repairs.

As first noted by AppleInsider yesterday, the pending class action lawsuit was filed with with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging the Cupertino firm has “gone too far” in employing the extreme measure of bricking users’ handsets without any advance warning.

PCVA is seeking at least $5 million in damages and restitution for users affected by Error 53 codes. The law firm also wants Apple to remove the drastic repair restriction from iOS with a software update.

“No materials we’ve seen from Apple ever show a disclosure that your phone would self-destruct if you download new software onto a phone,” PCVA wrote in the filing. “If Apple wants to kill your phone under any set of circumstances and for any reason, it has to make it crystal clear to its customers before the damage is done.”

“The error code 53 signals the death of the phone, and Apple’s response has been to say ‘you have no options; it’s not covered under warranty, and you have to buy a new phone.”

“We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops,” said PCVA last week.

“There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products. Think of it this way: let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself. That is wrong,” reads a post on the PCVA website.

Many users who have had their Touch ID repaired by an unauthorized service provider report being greeted with an “Error 53” message after restoring a saved backup or updating to the latest iOS version.

Web reports and a thread on the Apple Discussion forums indicate that people are enraged at lack of communication on Apple’s part regarding “Error 53”.

For its part, Apple vehemently argues these measures are necessary to secure and prevent tampering of sensitive fingerprint and payment data after an unauthorized repair.

“We protect fingerprint data using a Secure Enclave, which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor,” an Apple spokesperson told The Guardian.

“This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious Touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, Touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.”

Apple’s standard 1-year warranty for the iPhone in the United States makes it clear that the warranty does not apply to damage “caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider” or if the handset “has been modified to alter functionality or capability” without the written permission of Apple.

Do you agree with Apple’s stance on this matter?

Source: AppleInsider

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  • Mark S

    If they are even successful get ready for you .49 check.

    • Lol, funny but true, In apples case they shouldn’t brick the phone just limit the Touch ID’s use.

      • Rowan09

        No from what I understand it’s only if someone breaks your Touch ID cable and install an aftermarket one the phone becomes bricked. If you do any repairs outside of Apple or authorized repair center it voids the warranty, so I don’t see this lawsuit going far.

      • It happens when the Touch ID sensor itself is changed. The flex cable that connects it to the board can be safely changed.

      • Rowan09

        You can change the Touch ID cable? I thought it was attached to the sensor.

      • On the 6/6plus and 6S/6S plus there is an additional cable connecting it to the phone.

      • Antzboogie

        If you install a similar quality screen but dont care about the fingerprint sensor its wrong. Its a monopoly. Trust me Im a big Apple fan but their wrong on this one. I should be able to service it out of Apple and its ok if I void the warranty. I will save money if its done properly.

      • Rowan09

        It’s not about changing the screen it’s about messing up the fingerprint sensor and just putting in a home button, since the sensor only works with specific phones. I agree it’s a little harsh but I would actually like to hear Apples reason. Why aren’t people complaining that they should allow you to change to another fingerprint sensor if the old one is broken by mistake? Why because it’s more of a risk to have someone else sensor with your prints instead of Apples. I would just like to hear their reason but I agree it’s aggressive on their part.

      • iPhoneWINS


      • The Guy

        The new update has a fix for it now, although you still can’t use the touch ID, but the error is gone. But yeah, this case won’t go far since Apple has fixed the problem.

    • Todd Chapman

      I was just about to comment the same thing haha. Everyone wants a piece of the  pie

  • Me

    This doesn’t happen if you have Apple do it. There are plenty Authorized service centers for a reason.

    • Rodney Coleman

      FYI most stores charge more than what Apple charges. Cheap people get cheap results

  • Brock

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you disconnect the Touch ID and reconnect it touch is going to work the phone will request you to put in your pass code? Also, after 24 hour of not using the Touch ID and after the phone is restarted you have to enter the password to access the phone. So how is Apple considering bricking the phone protecting it? Looks like there is already measures in place that don’t consist of bringing the phone

  • jayr

    i guess apple doesnt even respect loyal followers of apple, what kind of company would intentionally brick customers phones. i dont even have an apple store nearby & many ppl dont so its no excuse for the touch id security issue to get parts replaced somewhere else or for myself to replace it. i’m saying this because this phone was provided after i got the error. i agree they should get sued & this is coming from someone who loves iphones

    • Antzboogie

      Exactly Apple is awesome but very wrong on this one.

  • Antzboogie

    They should be getting sued and this is coming from an Apple fan!! It just seems very wrong and selfish of them to force people to have to go to them for any repairs.

  • FrankensteinBlack

    In the immortal words of “Richard Watterson”; NOOOOOOOoooooOOOOOOO!

  • Ballziton Shnaps

    Basically apple wants to make more money how are we not surprised