For those who haven't been letting Apple care for their smartphones, the latest version of iOS 9 could prove fatal for their handsets. Error 53 is a serial iPhone killer.

Even if it happened months ago, a repair by a third-party technician can leave an iPhone susceptible to the phone-bricking devastation of Error 53. And it's not just repairs.

Even phones that have been damaged and are being used with repairs are at risk of being turned into paperweights.

It all has to do with the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. If it has suffered any damage, it'll require repairs from a certified Apple technician.

The error is generated by security checks designed to protect its customers, according to Apple.

The security inspection attempts to confirm if an iPhone's fingerprint scanner matches up with the other components in the handset, stated iFixit's Kyle Wiens.

"The problem occurs if the repairer changes the home button or the cable," Wiens said. "Following the software upgrade the phone, in effect, checks to make sure it is still using the original components, and if it isn't, it simply locks out the phone. There is no warning, and there's no way that I know of to bring it back to life."

Apple is serious about customer security, the company said in a prepared statement. When the security check can't verify that the original fingerprint sensor is installed, it disables Touch ID, Apple stated.

"This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used," stated Apple.

The problem isn't new. It has been around for at least a couple of years, but it appears to be one of those issues no one cares about until it happens to them.

While it isn't clear exactly how long this has been going on, what's apparent is that this is a huge issue.

"The 'error 53' page on our website has had more than 183,000 hits, suggesting this is a big problem for Apple users," Wiens said.

Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns | Flickr

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