TechIs Apple finally ditching physical buttons with the iPhone 16?

Is Apple finally ditching physical buttons with the iPhone 16?

iPhone 16: visualization of prototypes
iPhone 16: visualization of prototypes
Images source: © MacRumors

5:12 PM EDT, April 24, 2024

The discussion around an iPhone devoid of traditional, clickable buttons resurfaces periodically. Yet, it appears Apple is steadfast in exploring this innovation.

A reminder is due that, based on reliable sources, Apple planned to forgo clickable buttons for the iPhone 15 Pro model unveiled last year. However, due to "unresolved technical issues," the idea was shelved. The concept's remnants included splitting the volume down and up buttons and eliminating the notification switch.

Apple seems to have not entirely discarded the concept but simply postponed it.

Will the iPhone 16 Lack Mechanical Buttons?

Economic Daily News reports suggest that the Taiwanese company Advanced Semiconductor Engineering has secured a substantial order from Apple for components essential for capacitive buttons in future iPhone models.

Production of these components is to commence in the third quarter, leaving it uncertain if Apple’s order targets this year's iPhone 16 model. Should the supplier's production lines lag in efficiency, Tim Cook might postpone introducing these innovations to subsequent iPhone iterations.

Experience with an iPhone without Traditional Buttons

The initiative entails adopting capacitive buttons that react to touch without needing to be physically pressed. Taptic Engine motors would be installed on either side of the iPhone's frame to simulate clicking.

This approach was previously applied to the Home buttons of the iPhone 7, 8, and SE models, but aiming to eliminate all physical buttons marks a more audacious step. Apple is purportedly crafting a specialized integrated circuit to detect pressure even when the device is off, or its battery is dead.

What is the motivation behind such innovation? Eliminating conventional buttons could enable a more sealed design, enhancing resistance to water and dust. Nonetheless, this may also render repairs more challenging and expensive.

Predictions state that the iPhone 16 will retain the power switch, action button, and volume controls and introduce an extra button for camera functions. Users could, it’s speculated, adjust zoom with a finger slide, set focus with a light press, and capture photos with a firmer press.

Apple is not pioneering in this realm. HTC ventured into this territory with capacitive buttons in their U12+ model back in 2018, albeit with mixed success.

The unveiling of the new iPhone 16 series is anticipated in September.

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