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Apple fined after bricking iPhones repaired by third-parties

Apple has been heavily fined in Australia after it was accused of disabling and refusing to repair iPhones previously fixed by third-parties.

An Australian court slapped Apple with a AU$9 million (around £5.04m), following the ‘Error 53’ controversy, which effectively bricked the iPhones of affected users.

The controversy originally came to light in early 2016. Some iPhones repaired outside of Apple’s authorised service centres became unusable, following a software update that produced an Error 53 screen.

At the time, Apple told customers they’d have to pay out of pocket to replace the iPhone in question. Apple told at least 275 customers down under they were not eligible for repairs if they used an unauthorised repair service.

Related: iPhone 9

“The mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,” the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Sarah Court said in a statement (via NYPost.

“Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action.”

The ACCC said Apple has reached out to 5,000 customers in order to remedy the situation since the investigation began. Apple did not comment on the ruling but said it had “very productive conversations with the ACCC about this.”

Reports at the time said the issue was caused by a security check performed during the software update. Apple claimed this was to protect users against potentially fraudulent Touch ID sensors being installed on the phone.

“We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers,” Apple said in a statement a couple of years back.

“iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components. If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support.”

Do you get your iPhones repaired by third-parties on the cheap? Or do you always go the official route? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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