iPhone 15 Pro reportedly skipping solid-state buttons — here's what we know

an image of an iPhone 15 Pro render and claimed solid-state buttons
(Image credit: MacRumors)

For a month, the iPhone 15 Pro was hotly tipped to be abandoning its physical buttons in favor of solid-state haptics. This was shot down by the analysts Jeff Pu and Ming-Chi Kuo last month, and you can now add Bloomberg’s well-connected reporter Mark Gurman to the list of dissenters.

But for Gurman, it’s not a cancellation — it’s merely a postponement.

In the Q&A section of his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman tackles the question of solid-state buttons head-on. No, they won’t be in the iPhone 15 Pro this September — “manufacturing complexity, higher associated costs and software integration issues” have seen to that — but they will apparently be heading to the iPhone 16 Pro instead.

That’s the second iPhone 16 Pro rumor we’ve heard. An earlier one indicated that Apple would be moving Face ID underneath the screen, which could nearly eliminate the notch and Dynamic Island altogether.

Gurman says that test units around Apple’s campus continue to use the haptic buttons, but they have nonetheless been removed from production models and won’t feature this year. This confusion may go some way to explaining why the iPhone 15 Ultra physical model demoed by Unbox Therapy yesterday appeared to have a volume rocker rather than the more familiar buttons.

Why solid-state buttons?

Why would Apple want to abandon tried-and-tested buttons? Aside from offering a distinctive new look, haptics do offer some advantages. Removing the cut-out space for buttons on the iPhone’s frame means fewer points for dust and water to get in. It also spells a small reduction in moving parts and therefore less chance of a phone wearing out over the long haul.

While Gurman, Pu and Kuo all agree that haptic buttons aren’t coming this year, there is at least one dissenting voice. Leaker Analyst941 — not a household name in the same way as the others, but with a few successful predictions — claims that it’s too late for Apple to change course now.

“The iPhone 15 Pro’s will still have capacitive touch buttons, contrary to rumors, the development team is working too closely with new hardware to turn back now,” the account tweeted last month. “The components are ready and it’s too late for that nonsense.”

The good thing about being an outlier is that people remember you if you’re ultimately proven right, and your predictions get a lot more credence in future. In September, we’ll find out whether haptic buttons are launching with the iPhone 15 handsets, or if it’s something for the iPhones of tomorrow.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.