Apple releases minor software update to fix devices bricked by Error 53

By , Feb 18, 2016

Touch ID technology iPhone 6

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


  1. Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Force restart your device.
  3. Try to restore your device again.
  4. 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.

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  • Ángel Javier Esquivel

    Well, these are really incredible news

    *Edit: Grammar

  • Merman123

    I wonder if this glitch can be used for a jailbreak.

  • My iPhone6+ just DFU’d out of the blue while charging. I had just updated to 13D15 last week so it surprised me that it was downloading 2GB update yet again.

    Seeing a new build number 13D20 without a change in version number freaked me out: why recycle the version?

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Probably because it only affects certain devices, and not all.

  • droid3000

    unbelievable. im literally going through this right now

  • DopamineAddicted

    About the date and time bug, why is it non of these tech site are telling people that all they need to do is disconnect the battery and plug it back in to reset the cpu and it’s not bricked beyond use? Youtube how to do it or take it to a phone repair shop as opposed to having an expensive paper weight. Your welcome

    • Burge

      If the device is in warranty and you open it up you void the warranty. Also if someone does that and breaks anything are you going to pay for it to get fixed.? Don’t base what you can do is what others can do.

      • DopamineAddicted

        True. Next thing, they should educate the public that if they let the battery die it will reset the cpu and the device will boot. Don’t get rid of your precious iDevice so easy

  • Kenneth Delgado

    No OTA update?

    • Anthony Bouchard

      How are you going to use OTA update on a bricked iPhone? 🙂

      • Kenneth Delgado

        Well, my iPhone is not bricked.

      • Anthony Bouchard

        This update is intended to fix ‘bricked’ iPhones only. You don’t need it if you’re not seeing Error 53.

      • Kenneth Delgado

        Where’s the OTA?

      • Anthony Bouchard

        There will not be an OTA update for this build.

      • Morgan Freeman

        No update for you, Kenneth. Forget it exists. Just because some people need it, doesn’t mean you do. I understand… It’s something ‘new’ that you don’t have, and you want it. But you’re not gonna get it. 😛

      • Antzboogie

        What if he repairs it in the future he should update.

      • Anthony Bouchard

        Even so, it won’t be OTA. This is not an OTA update.

  • philip Mills

    won’t 9.3 be out soon

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Yes, but since Apple was facing a class-action lawsuit over this, it was on their “must fix immediately” agenda.

      • AS they should’ve done way before that lol.

  • Jerry

    With how cheap it’s gotten to repair your phone at Apple why go to third parties? I’ve never seen anything third party that craps out early or gives constant problems. I’d be more then happy to pay alittle more for no headaches and oem hardware.

    • 5723alex .

      There are hundred of countries where there is no Apple Store.

      • Adan

        And ever if there are, your nearest store could be hundreds of kilometers away. It’s not all about YOU, Jerry!

      • techfreak23

        You can also do mail repair service… I believe they will send you a loaner phone in the meantime. Once you get that, you place your phone in the box and send it back to them to get it fixed.

    • Manuel Molina

      Apple wanted 125 for a screen for my 5S, got one for 50 on Craigslist and someone did it for me. Still no issues a year and a half later. iPhone 6S screen is 150 at Apple; craigslist is 80 with someone doing it for me. They mess up, they give me a new phone. Which offer are you going to take? OEM hardware is used as well.

  • Manuel Molina

    “Why all the trouble? – Because Apple cares about security, and it’s a huge security risk…”

    This should be changed to “Why all the trouble? – Because Apple wants your money!” I don’t see how you are in right to disable a feature like Touch ID after I paid my money for phone that comes with the feature. Me buying the part from someone voids my warranty, but my warranty has nothing to do with you disabling my Touch ID. And you giving me an update to for the phone is not part of the warranty either.

    • techfreak23

      What’s worse for Apple: disabling Touch ID until you get a legitimate part and get some flack for it from the community, or have people get angry at them when their personal information is compromised because of a modified sensor (probably not that likely but still)? Even though YOU decided to go through a third party. Either way, Apple loses so they would rather just protect your information than have the possibility of data breaches.

      • Manuel Molina

        Let’s be honest, if I’m using a third-party part on Touch ID, I should know the risk behind putting in a part that may or may not break down the road. But Apple disabling something for my own security reasons when I’m not asking to do sounds like BS. You disabling something is controlling what I do with my device which I brought and own. Sounds like Apple is doing some of the personal control with your phone and, untimely your information. They’re compromising it by shutting it off not me.

  • Elias Chao

    Is there any chance that TouchID could be re-enable with a jailbreak tweak?

  • Dao Sasone

    I guess the lawsuit workd lol

  • Cody Cutrer

    I’m pretty sure it’s always been the case that if you replace your Home Button on a 5s or newer anywhere but the Apple Store, Touch ID will not work. That’s not new with this particular build.

    • Anthony Bouchard

      The difference is that now your device will not only lack Touch ID, but it will become ‘bricked.’ Today’s update fixes that.

      • Cody Cutrer

        Right. 9.2.1 gave you Error 53. 9.2.1 “attempt 2” doesn’t give you Error 53. But a 3rd party replacement home button will not have working Touch ID in 9.2.0 OR 9.2.1 “attempt 2”. It’s no worse than 9.2.0. The article implies that with 9.2.0 and earlier, a 3rd party home button will have a functional Touch ID, which isn’t true.

      • Anthony Bouchard

        At what point does the article imply that? To my knowledge all iOS 9 builds cause problems with third-party Touch ID buttons.

      • Nano.m

        How can i fix the problem ! What can i do to avoid the error 53 message .. I’ve downloaded the new software but this message still

  • Antzboogie

    Happy to hear Apple fixed this issue!!

  • Tim

    Where are all the people who cried, “It’s a security risk the iPhone must be bricked blah blah.” We told you apple just wanted your money.

    • Anthony Bouchard

      I’m not sure what you mean. Apple proves a legitimate point in what they have done – third-party Touch ID sensors have a huge security risk, especially with them allowing you to log into your bank apps, etc.

      Now, you can use the Home button again, but you can’t use Touch ID until you get a legitimate sensor for security reasons.

      Apple has successfully retained their security promise while still allowing users to “use” their device.

      • Tim

        I’m arguing the point that bricking a $700 device wasn’t neccessary, they were pretty much forcing you to throw away your device and buy a new one. Daylight robbery if you ask me. If you don’t understand that maybe you just have too much money laying around.

      • Anthony Bouchard

        As they mentioned, it was a factory test gone wrong. “Bricking” wasn’t intentional as you’re insinuating.

        On the other hand, I will argue that I agree with Apple that third-party Touch ID sensors do pose a security risk because you never know if they’re ‘phoning home’ somewhere to get into your personal information.

      • stylesbeyond

        the touch id was never going to work anyway just as if you replaced it on your 5s we already knew this! at least you can still restore and use the button phycially still most don’t use the touch id like myself anyway, apple was just out to make money sure if you want touch id working then send to apple but some just need their phones to work in the mean time a quick fix

  • jayanta dey

    The update is not for users who update their iPhones over the air (OTA) via iCloud. If you update your phone that way, you should never have encountered Error 53 in the first place. If, however, you update via iTunes or your phone is bricked, you should be able to plug it into iTunes to get the update today, restoring your phone’s functionality.

  • I wonder How much they charge to replace the touch ID.

  • ali

    Where’s my last post

  • ali

    My phone was bricked 6 months ago
    I m v v v v happy to see it alive again with this release of 9.2.1
    I m the luckiest…

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    Plugged in my iPhone 6S Plus running 9.2.1 into iTunes just now and it asked me if I wanted to update to 9.2.1 (newer build). Hit cancel, didn’t want to render my phone useless if I just put my phone sideways.

    • Anthony Bouchard

      I updated my iPhone 6 Plus, it seems to be fine.

  • Nano.m

    Sorry can anyone help me !! The error 53 message still and i can’t update my iphone 6

  • Thomas Wagner Thomsen

    OTA update, not possible either if the home button was replaced, it was not able to verify the update, so dont think any one have a OTA update with third party home button.
    But now we are all happy

  • Paklan

    Good to hear this.

  • Andrew Tatsak

    Will this fix the GPS issue that a lot of people are having? Where the GPS just stops working. It works on and off but majority of the time we are experiencing a problem with GPS not working. And it’s on all the map apps…Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.