Apple has released a revised version of iOS 9.2.1 on Thursday to fix devices that have been affected by ‘Error 53,’ an issue that could ‘brick’ a user’s iOS device if it received a third-party Touch ID sensor replacement instead of one of Apple’s own replacements.
What is new in the revised iOS 9.2.1 release?
iOS 9.2.1 has been the latest software version for iOS devices for a month now. Prior to today, iOS 9.2.1 came with build number 13D15. Today’s update comes with build number 13D20.
iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20 is a firmware that users can restore to via iTunes if they’ve ‘bricked’ their devices by having a third-party Touch ID sensor installed. It’s not available as an OTA (over-the-air) update, but instead, must be installed via iTunes on your computer.
Users that have not had a third-party Touch ID sensor installed need not worry about installing the update. Any who did will need this update to prevent ‘Error 53’ from happening again. Likewise, the update need not be installed by users who updated to iOS 9 using OTA update since the error only appears to affect those who tether to iTunes for updates.
As noted by TechCrunch, Apple says the problem was related to an internal test that wasn’t meant to affect customers who had replacements installed on their devices. Apple gave the following statement
Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.
Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.
Touch ID will remain hindered
Although this update will fix your ‘Error 53’ problem and prevent it from happening again, there is a slight drawback still that you should be aware of.
If you had a third-party Touch ID sensor installed, then you’re still not going to be able to use your fingerprint to unlock your device, download apps, or log into supported apps because iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20 will disable Touch ID on the device as long as you’ve got an unsupported Touch ID sensor connected to it.
You can still use a passcode to secure your device, but unless you get an official Apple Touch ID sensor installed, you won’t be able to use your fingerprint to perform actions on the device in the future since it’s an unsupported sensor. Nonetheless, the device at least won’t be ‘bricked’ and you can at least still use it.
Why all the trouble? – Because Apple cares about security, and it’s a huge security risk to its users if they’re using a third-party fingerprint scanner since there’s no telling if it’s sending that information to third-parties or not.
Which devices is iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20 for?
Since iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20 fixes a problem that only affected a limited number of 64-bit iOS devices with a Touch ID sensor, the updated firmware is only available for the following devices:
- iPhone 6 Plus (iPhone7,1)
- iPhone 6 (iPhone7,2)
- iPhone 6s (iPhone8,1)
- iPhone 6s Plus (iPhone8,2)
- iPad mini 3 (Wi-Fi) (iPad4,7)
- iPad mini 3 (Cellular) (iPad4,8)
- iPad mini 3 (China) (iPad4,9)
- iPad mini 4 (Wi-Fi) (iPad5,1)
- iPad mini 4 (Cellular) (iPad5,2)
- iPad Air 2 (Wi-Fi) (iPad5,3)
- iPad Air 2 (Cellular) (iPad5,4)
- iPad Pro (iPad6,7)
- iPad Pro (Cellular) (iPad6,8)
If you have a different device not listed, you have no updates to install and can disregard the rest of this post.
How to get iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20
Since the update isn’t available as an OTA update, you will have to download the firmware manually to install it through iTunes. The firmware is available from our downloads page, and you should also grab the latest version of iTunes from Apple’s website.
After you’ve downloaded both, you can launch iTunes and prepare to restore to the iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20 release. After the restore is complete, you should be able to power on and use your iOS device again.
Please note that a restore will wipe your device of its contents, so you should restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup after the restore to bring back all your apps and settings you had before.
Still having issues with Error 53?
In a support document, Apple lists the following troubleshooting steps to perform if you continue to seeing ‘Error 53’ in iTunes:
Follow these steps
- Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes.
- Force restart your device.
- Try to restore your device again.
- If you still see ‘Error 53’ when you try to restore your device, contact Apple Support. If the restore won’t finish and you see a different error code, learn what to do.
How to get Touch ID working again
After installing iOS 9.2.1 build 13D20, you will have to bring your iPhone to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Repair center to have the Home button replaced by a legitimate technician. This is the only way you can ever use Touch ID on your device again if you had a third-party Touch ID sensor installed on it currently.
Although it’s more expensive, using an Apple-branded Touch ID sensor ensures that your fingerprint data and any apps that access it are properly secured and won’t be phoned home to any third-parties.
We know Apple is working on getting iOS 9.3 out to the public, as it has been in beta for a little over a month, and we also know Apple is working on a software update that will fix the recently-exploited date & time bug for iOS devices that could brick the device.
If you are facing Error 53 on one of your devices, did this resolution help you? Share in the comments.