If your iPhone 6’s screen is cracked or the home button is broken, you may want to think twice before getting it fixed by anyone other than Apple. Seeking repairs from a third-party repair service could render your device unusable the next time it updates.

Anger is mounting as iPhone 6 and 6s users discover that third-party repairs can eventually brick their phones. The problem apparently stems from when these services use non-Apple supplied parts to fix iPhones. The next time the unlucky owner updates their device, they get an Error 53, which effectively makes it all but worthless.

This means whatever pictures, videos, texts, and other data you might have stored on your iPhone is gone and cannot be retrieved. Not to mention you’re left without a phone.

Because this error only affects iPhones with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, this error is only showing on iPhone 6 and 6s devices. Any iPhone version prior to that is apparently unaffected. However, the error can appear even if you’re repairing something other than the home button–some parts (like the screen) are paired with the home button in a way that can still trigger this error if they are replaced.

Also, the error apparently only appears when the phone attempts to perform a system update, which means that you may be able to use your phone for days or even weeks following a repair, as long as you don’t accept that software update.

Currently, Apple claims to have no fix for the dreaded Error 53, so you’re well advised to take precautions if you’re thinking of getting your iPhone fixed by anyone else other than Apple or an authorized repair person.

So, what can you do? The first most obvious thing you can do is get your phone repaired by Apple with genuine Apple parts. Just note that if your phone is out of warranty, or the problem with it isn’t covered by your warranty, that repair can cost big bucks. But it’s not worth skimping on repair costs if it means your phone will break one day.

Sure, you could get it repaired and then simply not update your phone, but we don’t recommend this. For one, Apple frequently updates iOS to address performance and security issues. Not updating your phone could leave you open to potential issues, not to mention that you could be missing out on the latest and greatest features. Furthermore, it’s possible there’s a reason this Error 53 exists–after all, Touch ID is designed to keep your phone more secure, and getting a non-Apple part installed could make your phone less secure on its own.

This is also a good time for a reminder: back up your phone.  Do it regularly. Whether you’re getting it repaired by a third party or not, it can save you a lot of headaches down the line. Anything can go wrong during a repair, so having your iPhone backed up to iTunes and synced with iCloud prior to service will go a long way to towards relieving potential headaches and heartbreak.

RELATED: How to Manually Backup Your iPhone (in Preparation for iOS 9)

We should expect the Error 53 controversy to get louder as more and more people get their iPhones fixed by third-party repair services. But to be honest, we can’t really fault Apple on this one. Repairing your iPhone with knockoff components could constitute a pretty large security threat, and while we don’t necessarily think it deserves a bricked phone, the potential for malfeasance is definitely there.

For the time being, it looks like the only “solution” to Error 53 is to take your iPhone into an Apple store or send it back. So take care of your phone, and only solicit repairs from authorized people. You’ll be happy you did.

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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