The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, and 6S Plus don’t like it when you replace their TouchID sensors. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

In recent weeks, you may have read about iPhone error code 53, a problem related to the fingerprint sensor that can keep iPhones with damaged or replaced TouchID buttons from installing updates or brick them entirely. On Thursday, a Seattle law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It argues that preventing iPhones with damaged TouchID buttons from working normally otherwise is “abusive,” that Apple did not adequately warn consumers of problems that could arise from a damaged or replaced TouchID sensor, and that “more than 62 million units” have been affected in the US as of November 2015.
Class-action status has yet to be granted by a judge; we’ll continue to follow the story if it goes forward.
As much as it has inconvenienced some users, there is a technical reason why Error 53 exists. Every single TouchID sensor is paired to the phone that it ships with, a security measure Apple says is designed to “prevent a fraudulent TouchID sensor from being used.” If every TouchID-iPhone pairing is unique, it makes it more difficult to use a bad fingerprint sensor to get into the phone or collect fingerprint or Apple Pay transaction information. Fine.
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