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Apple releases software update to correct 'error 53'

A new version of iOS 9.2.1 on iTunes helps people whose phones were bricked after third-party repairs.

iOS 9.2.1. restores iPhones disabled by error 53.
Josh Miller/CNET

Apple has released a new version of its iOS mobile operating system that fixes iPhones disabled by the infamous error 53.

The error, first reported by The Guardian two weeks ago, affected users who had used a third party to fix a cracked screen or a failing Touch ID-enabled home button. Error 53 appeared as a security measure, said Apple, adding it was caused by a precaution put in place to stop the iPhone's fingerprint sensor being exploited. But it rendered iPhones unusable once the error message appeared.

"We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers," the company said in a statement earlier this month.

Phones can be fixed via an iOS 9.2.1 update available through iTunes, not via wireless download. To install on a phone affected by error 53, you need to physically connect it to a computer with iTunes and download it there.

Apple says that bringing to life an iPhone or iPad affected by this problem is as simple as restoring the device and connecting it to the computer using iTunes. If the problem persists, Apple suggests users contact Apple Support. If the restore won't finish and you see a different error code, they suggest you do this.

The update will not re-enable Touch ID, according to a TechCrunch report.

The quick fix could help mitigate some claims under a current class action lawsuit against Apple over the error 53 matter.