Apple has made a statement to TechCrunch apologising for the Error 53 issue and admitting the presentation of the problem was a bug. The checking of hardware to ensure its integrity is intended as a factory test and not something that should have affected iPhones in the wild.
Furthermore, and contrary to what Apple was saying a week ago, it is possible to restore the iPhone and get your data back. A software update has been issued that deals with this issue. And if you paid for an out-of-warranty replacement for an affected iPhone, it seems you’ll also receive a refund.
iFixit reports that the update issued by Apple works as promised,
There’s also an Error 53 support page, specifically dedicated to this issue on Apple’s website. However, it’s not yet been updated to reflect the statement made to TechCrunch although it’s worth checking back if that has now happened.
Here’s the statement made to TechCrunch (that, curiously, is not on Apple’s press release website).
Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.
Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
We apologise for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.