iPhone 15 Pro Action button — 5 mistakes Apple needs to fix

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As the iPhone 15 Pro starts shipping, I can't help but feeling that there's something missing. And no, I'm not talking about the lack of a charger in the box.

Apple's introduction of the iPhone 15 Pro Action button, a feature unique to the more expensive iPhone 15 models, was no doubt carefully considered before it was implemented. It blends in well with the other buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max's side rails, its settings menu is well-designed and easy to use, and the default functions offered at launch span several genuinely helpful possible use-cases. But for a feature that's replaced the ring/mute switch — something that's been present since the first iPhone back in 2007 — Apple's been a little unambitious.

iPhone innovation moves slower than it used to as Apple changes less between each generation of phones and users keep their devices for longer. The Action button has a lot of room for growth though, and I think there are at least five possible improvements Apple should make, be it in future iPhones like next year's iPhone 16, or in updates to iOS 17 or later iPhone software versions.

The current Action button limitations aren't enough to put us off of recommending the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. Both sit proudly on our best phones guide after all. But I suspect as more and more people receive their iPhone 15 Pros after launch day, this list of wanted features for the new button is only going to get longer.

Offer double-tap and triple-tap gestures

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As TG's editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer noted at the iPhone 15 series' launch, Apple's limited the iPhone 15 Pro's Action button by only letting you bind one command to it. Perhaps this was done in the name of simplicity when introducing the Action button for the first time, but until you can interact with it in more ways than just a simple press, Apple's hamstrung the Action button's potential.

Allow users to assign the power button's Siri and Wallet shortcuts to the Action button instead

iPhone users are likely used to accessing Apple's digital assistant or their payment and loyalty cards from the side button, but there's no sense in limiting user choice in this way. If they'd rather summon Siri or access the Wallet app with a dedicated button, Apple should facilitate that.

Offer a simpler custom action option alongside Shortcuts

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iOS Shortcuts is a very powerful app, but it's not something the average user is going to be comfortable with setting up for themselves. A dedicated interface that would allow a user to set up a certain app or function with the Action button not already included in Apple's pre-sets would allow more users to get more out of the action button.

Make accessing Action button settings simpler

If you decide it's time to switch up what action the Action button performs, you have to go into the Settings app to do so. This makes sense and should absolutely remain an option, but a shortcut (maybe one of those new gestures we suggested…) that would quickly open up the Action button selection menu would be much appreciated. 

Move the location

We've been hearing from curious readers that they're concerned that the Action button is placed too far up the side of the iPhone 15 Pro — particularly the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max — to be particularly useful. It makes sense for the Action button to be where it is as a replacement for the old mute switch, but it shouldn't stay where it is because of tradition. Moving the Action button to a lower spot, be that on the left side where it currently is or even to the right side under the power button, would cement the button's importance to controlling the iPhone, and make it far more convenient to use in a snap.

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.