Image Source: Apple

The iPhone could not be restored. An unknown error has occured (53)—if you’ve been unlucky enough to have seen this message when updating your iPhone, then you know the horror! Error 53 can cause your iPhone to become more of an iBrick as it renders your phone completely useless.

What Causes an Error 53?

An error 53 on the iPhone is said to be linked to the Touch ID, specifically, Touch IDs that have been replaced by 3rd parties. Each Touch ID is paired with the phone when manufactured, so if your phone is repaired by a third party and the Touch ID is replaced, the phone notices a mismatch in parts. You won’t notice any difference at first, until you update your software; the Touch ID parts not sourced from the original iPhone will cause it to fail the verification check during software updates.


This message isn’t seen when updating via iCloud, but your phone may simply tell you that it was unable to install the update. When you plug your phone in and sync it with iTunes to update the software, that’s where the problem occurs. Your phone will cycle into a recovery loop, prompting you to recover your phone, but now allowing you to do so. There’s nothing you can do; you can’t use your phone, you can’t sell your phone… it’s best purpose is an expensive brick.

Apple sites this as a security measure, saying that error 53 prevents malicious Touch IDs to be installed that may be used to access the Secure Enclave (where your fingerprints are stored).

Solving the Error 53 Problem

The problem has caused such a commotion that one Seattle-based law firm decided to take action! Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala (PCVA) has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple, asking for working iPhones for all affected customers as well as millions in damages.

So what can you do right now when this happens? Check out Apple’s guide to restoring an iPhone or iPad with an error 53. If that fails, it may be time for a stop at your local Genius Bar!