While folks are worried about this fall's iPhone dropping the headphone jack, next year's model could present an even more jarring change. A new report claims that the smartphone's iconic Home button will go away in the 2017 iPhone, likely in favor of a touch-sensitive button.
This news comes via a Bloomberg report that focuses mostly on a Japan-specific iPhone made to ease the process of using public transit. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Gareth Allan, "Apple is already at work on a major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display by removing the Home button, according to a person familiar with the matter."
Why would Apple remove the Home button, one of the few things that's stayed the same in the iPhone's history? If a June report from the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Apple wants the front of the phone to "appear like a single sheet of glass." In addition, previous rumors point to the company looking to release devices with Home buttons that provide haptic feedback in favor of physical clicks.
An iPhone without a physical home button could also prove more water-resistant, as getting rid of the moving part removes yet another avenue that liquid can enter the device's interior. Water-resistance is rumored to be a possible feature of the iPhone 7, which might explain the potential loss of the headphone jack.
Another reason Apple may be planning to release a drastic iPhone redesign in 2017? Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the original groundbreaking iPhone, which debuted in July 2007. The company could add all of the software tweaks it wants, but a device that eschews the home button and offers a clearly different look could challenge the claim that Apple's designs have stagnated as its devices mature.
Rumors have also pointed to future iPhones losing the Mute button, and if all of these come to pass, it's fair to assume that just about any of the iPhone's physical buttons may be on borrowed time as Apple gets experimental.