The iPhone 15 may not be expected to arrive for almost a year, but we’re already hearing rumors about what the phone could include. The latest, from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, claims that some iPhone 15 models may swap out the standard clickable buttons with a solid-state alternative.
Kuo predicts that the design will be similar to the home button found on the iPhone SE, which first arrived on the iPhone 7, instead of the current mechanical button design. That will include taptic engines to provide feedback, and simulate the feeling of pressing real buttons.
There may not be a mechanical clicking button involved, but you do get the sensation that something has happened — rather than just experiencing the effects.
(1/6)My latest survey indicates that the volume button and power button of two high-end iPhone 15/2H23 new iPhone models may adopt a solid-state button design (similar to the home button design of iPhone 7/8/SE2 & 3) to replace the physical/mechanical button design.October 28, 2022
Interestingly, Kuo says that these new buttons will be coming to “two high-end iPhones”, but doesn’t specify which. We’ve been hearing rumors that there may be an iPhone 15 Ultra next year, and this kind of hardware would be perfectly suited for that kind of high-end device.
If that were the case, presumably the iPhone 15 Pro Max would also be in the running. Kuo himself has previously said that Apple wants to better differentiate between it and the iPhone 15 Pro — and this sort of upgrade would be one way to do that. Assuming the Ultra and Pro Max aren’t the same device, as some rumors have claimed.
Swapping out the mechanical buttons will likely enhance durability too, something Apple focussed on with the newly-launched Apple Watch Ultra. Fewer moving parts means there’s less chance for those parts to break, while water, dust and other junk won’t be able to sneak through the tiny gaps around the buttons.
The iPhone 15 Ultra has already been tipped for a titanium chassis, which would suggest there will be an emphasis on durability here, too — plus whatever else Apple can throw into the mix.
I’m also wondering whether this change could be a move towards the portless iPhone that’s been rumored for so long. While “portless” could be achieved by scrapping the charging port, concept phones from other companies took things further. Those phones adopted a seamless design free of buttons, speaker grills or any other kind of disruption to the phone’s design.
Details on the portless iPhone are unclear, and we don’t know how far Apple will take things. That said, a seamless uninterrupted design is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from an image-focussed company like Apple. And it’s likely to enhance durability in the process.
Like all rumors, be skeptical of how this pans out over the next several months. Apple may implement solid-state buttons in some iPhone 15 models, but it also may not. For now, check out our iPhone 15 hub for all the other latest rumors and leaks.
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Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.