In case you missed it, there’s a serious problem that can come up if you damage or have the TouchID sensor on your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, or iPhone 6s Plus replaced by a third-party repair service. We recently talked about the dreaded Error 53 that comes with that territory, and now the issue is making its way to court. A Seattle law firm, according to ars technica, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The lawsuit has not yet been granted class-action status by a judge, but it claims that preventing iPhones with damaged TouchID sensors from working normally otherwise is “abusive,” and that Apple did not adequately warn consumers of problems that could ensue from a damaged or replaced Home button. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that “more than 62 million units” have been affected by the problem in the U.S. as of November 2015.
There is a technical explanation for this error code. It’s a security measure that Apple says is designed to prevent a fraudulent TouchID sensor from being used to gain access to the device. Every TouchID sensor is uniquely paired to the iPhone that it’s installed in, and violating that “Secure Enclave” renders the device inoperable. This is designed to keep fraudsters from getting access to your iPhone, collecting fingerprint information, or getting to your Apple Pay transaction data.
The problem here is that the entire iPhone is rendered useless until the TouchID sensor is replaced by Apple. When the button is removed or replaced, any new software updates will fail to install without an error code, and your iPhone will go into a reboot loop that can only be ended by replacing the original TouchID button.
What would make much more sense in this situation would just disable TouchID and Apple Pay until a sensor could be properly paired with the device by Apple. It does make sense to require the TouchID button to be paired with the iPhone, since that heightens the security of the device, but rendering the entire handset useless because of a damaged sensor is overkill.
As for the class-action lawsuit, we will definitely continue to follow the story and report back if it moves forward.