Apple has apologised and issued a fix for the iPhone Error 53 bug, which saw thousands of users left with unusable phones after using a third-party repair shop to replace faulty Touch ID home buttons.
The fix comes after weeks of complaints from customers and a class action lawsuit filed by a Seattle–based law firm.
In a statement, Apple said: “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 apologise 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.”
Error 53 occurred after users enlisted the services of third-party repair shops rather than official Apple Store staff to tackle problems with the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner-enabled home button.
Initially, Apple said making an iPhone inaccessible in these circumstances was necessary in order to protect customer security.
However, while the fix makes affected iPhones usable again it does not mean that Touch ID sensors on affected devices will work.
That’s because the fingerprint scanner creates a unique code which is not accessible by Apple.
The highly encrypted data handed over when setting up an original Touch ID sensor, could easily be breached by a non-verified third-party replacement.
While Apple may have been wrong to ‘brick’ phones which featured third-party components, its security claims for using its own repair service does stand up to scrutiny.