Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (2023)

When it comes to Apple’s iPhone, the rumor mill is pretty much nonstop, regardless of what time of year it is. Even though the iPhone 14 series came out just a few months ago, there’s plenty of speculation about the iPhone 15 coming this year — and even with the iPhone 16 that we should expect in 2024.


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Though regulations with the European Union (EU) may be affecting the iPhone 15 by finally bringing USB-C charging to the iPhone, there are other big changes that might also be happening. That universal charging requirement may push Apple more towards having a portless iPhone instead, and another rumor suggests Apple may be replacing physical buttons with “solid-state” haptics instead. While this may sound cool at first, I see some potential issues with such a “feature.”

‘Fake’ buttons aren’t anything new for Apple

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (1)

So you may be wondering, what the heck would a “solid-state” haptic button be? According to some speculation from Ming-Chi Kuo in late 2022, it’s suggested that Apple will put a Taptic Engine array on both vertical edges of the iPhone 15, meaning the left and right sides. With the current iPhones, there is only a single Taptic Engine used for notifications, typing on the keyboard, etc.


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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.

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) October 28, 2022

With the Taptic Engine, Apple would be able to simulate the feeling of a physical click on the hardware, in this case, an iPhone. This technology already exists on other Apple devices — the glass trackpad on MacBooks, for example, doesn’t actually press down when you click. Instead, it offers vibrating feedback when you tap on it, simulating the feeling of an actual button.

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (2)

Apple has also already done this before on the iPhone with the Home button since the iPhone 7. Previous to the iPhone 7, the Home button was an actual button that would depress when you pressed it. But when it changed to a haptic button, it would simulate the feeling of a click, but it never actually depressed like previous Home buttons.

So you may be thinking, “Well, Apple did this before on an iPhone, and there was no problem then.” Yes, but that’s because the Home button was always exposed, even if you put a case on. If Apple moves away from physical volume and power buttons, things stand to become a bit more complicated.

Why a button-less iPhone makes me worried

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (3)

While it may be innovative for Apple to go this route with the volume and power buttons, I personally don’t think it’s the best way to go. I have no issue with physical buttons, and I just don’t see the point in replacing buttons with something that simulates a button press. I enjoy the feeling of the click (I also prefer mechanical keyboardsover flat, quiet keyboards like Apple’s own Magic Keyboard), and the idea of taking it away just doesn’t sit well with me.

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The idea of taking away physical buttons just doesn’t sit well with me.

I also think it’s another potential point of failure — what if your device has a defect or flaw in the Taptic Engine? How would you restart your device if you need to do that every so often because of software bugs? The average person would know how to restart an iPhone or iPad with physical buttons, and if those aren’t working because of a failure in one of the Taptic Engines, then what? I suppose one could enlist the help of Siri through a voice command, but I’m not sure if that’s a very widely known tip.

Look, as much as I love innovation in tech, I dislike the fact that we’re always moving away from buttons. For example, Teslas don’t really have physical buttons on the dash because everything is on a touch screen. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I, for one, like having physical buttons in my car. It’s muscle memory, and much easier to adjust something without having to look away from the road.

It’s the same with my iPhone — I like to be able to easily adjust the volume or double press the power button for Face ID things without having to look at my device to make sure my fingers are where they are supposed to be. I’m not sure if Apple will also be getting rid of the mute toggle, but it would definitely be harder to differentiate between the volume up and volume down buttons, for example, if they sat flush on the edge.

What about cases and gloves?

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (4)

Another concern I have with solid-state buttons is this: how would cases work? A lot of the cases that I’ve used have covers for the volume and power buttons. If Apple goes with a solid-state button design, how is that going to work with cases if you want extra protection? You’d need to leave an entire cutout to be able to access those buttons, which I think would look ugly, or make it work somehow with the sensors.

Another problem that may arise is when someone wears gloves and needs to access the buttons. If you can’t actually press down on them, and they use sensors for the Taptic Engine, how would that work with gloves? Sure, you could just take your glove off every time you need to access the volume and power buttons, but that seems less than ideal to me, especially when it’s freezing.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but as someone who always uses a case on the iPhone (I have a case of butterfingers), I’m really anxious about how cases will be compatible with solid-state buttons on the sides. Maybe it won’t be an issue at all, but it’s something that’s top of mind.

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Apple, you don’t need to remove everything

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (5)

It started with the headphone jack many years ago, and then countless Android manufacturers also followed suit. Then Apple removed the Home button, although for the better, in favor of Face ID for biometrics. Again, many Android phones also went that route with slimmer bezels and face recognition. Now there are talks that Apple may make a portless iPhone in the future, and the iPhone 15 may not even have actual buttons anymore if these rumors are true.

As much as I like Apple, I very much don’tlike removingperfectly functional things like buttons for the sake of innovation. Not only do physical buttons provide a nice click feeling when pressed, but they’re also very useful for things, like resetting your device. They just work.

Why removing physical buttons could ruin the iPhone 15 | Digital Trends (6)

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Why was iPhone button removed? ›

The screen is bigger and can show more information. And the gestures that replaced the home button have turned out to be much better for actually using Apple's software, letting users fly around the OS and between apps in a way that the punctuated pauses of the button presses never allowed.

What iPhone removed the button? ›

While Apple revolutionized the concept of the home button before it became a common fixture among Android phones too. However, the trend has died down over the past few years, with Apple ditching the home button with the iconic iPhone X.

What does change with buttons mean on iPhone 13? ›

When your turn off the option to "Change with Buttons" you're essentially locking the ringer and alert volumes in place with the sliders in Settings. The only way to adjust that again would be to back into Settings. You can see more about that here: Adjust the volume on iPhone.

How do new iPhones work without home button? ›

Unlock and get to the Home Screen

To unlock your iPhone with Face ID, glance at your iPhone, then swipe up from the bottom of the Lock Screen. Or if your iPhone is on a table or other flat surface, you can raise it or tap it to wake it. To go to the Home Screen at any time, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen.

What was the last iPhone with a physical home button? ›

The iPhone SE 2022 is the only current iPhone model with a home button.

When did iphones remove the button? ›

When Apple released the iPhone 7 it replaced the physical button with a circular spot that used haptics to mimic a physical button's action and feedback. This same faux-home button is on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, SE (2020) and SE (2022).

When did iPhone stop having buttons? ›

(Note: The first iPhone with Face ID and no Home button was the iPhone X, which was released in 2017.)

Why don t iphones have a back button? ›

Because a back button takes up space in the UI. Besides, iOS doesn't need one. To go back to the previous section of anything in an app on your iPhone, just swipe from the left.

What is the iPhone without home button? ›

During the 2017 WWDC, which is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple announced three new iPhones: iPhone X (pronounced 'ten'), iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. The screen of the iPhone X covers the entire front of the phone – eliminating the Home button and adding the Face ID feature to unlock the phone.

What is the newest iPhone button? ›

iPhone SE features the familiar Home button with Touch ID — an easy, private, and secure alternative for logging in to apps, authorizing App Store purchases, making Apple Pay transactions, and more. iPhone SE features an aerospace-grade aluminum design, with the toughest glass in a smartphone on the front and back.

What is the white thing below the power button on the iPhone 13? ›

iPhone 13 Pro Max has a similar cut out for the mmWave Antenna 2, below the power button on the right side of the mobile device. The mmWave antenna 1 is present on the stacked PCB structure and has a cut out on the chassis facing the back side as it radiates from the back of the smartphone.

Why am I sleeping through my iPhone alarm? ›

If you're sleeping through your alarm, it could be because you're turning your phone's ringer volume all the way down before you go to bed. Instead of using the volume buttons to make your phone silent throughout the day, just use the silent switch (above the volume buttons) to turn your phone's ringer off.

What is the clear thing under the power button on the iPhone 13? ›

It is an antenna for 5G ultra wide band.

Why do new phones have no home button? ›

Whether you're a die-hard supporter of the iPhone or Android phones, you'll see one thing that most smartphones coming into the market these days tend to not have a home screen button. Although it may sound slightly annoying to some users, the reason for doing this is to increase the size of the screen.

How do you use 3 fingers on iPhone? ›

You can also touch and hold a selection, then tap Cut, Copy, or Paste.
Copy, cut, or paste
  1. Copy: Pinch closed with three fingers.
  2. Cut: Pinch closed with three fingers two times.
  3. Paste: Pinch open with three fingers.

Can I use iPhone with broken home button? ›

There's thankfully an accessibility workaround, and it's simple to enable: Step 1: Open your Settings app. Step 2: Tap Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch. Step 3: Tap the switch for AssistiveTouch so it shows green.

Do iPhone users miss the home button? ›

There's no button like home. If you have any iPhone, version X or later, you may be missing the home button. Even if you know on some gut level that you don't really need the button, it's okay to want it back. But you don't have to go on without it.

What was the first phone without a button? ›

stunning, actually! The name of the phone is Meizu Zero (as in zero ports, zero buttons, zero "holes"), it's made by Chinese phone maker Meizu and it has what the company calls a "one-piece ceramic unibody" with no interruptions.

Do iPhone buttons wear out? ›

While it could be a battery issue, it could also just be a broken iPhone 5 power button. Buttons on your smartphone experience wear and tear throughout everyday use.

What's the last iPhone with a headphone jack? ›

The last remaining ‌iPhone‌ with a headphone jack, the first-generation iPhone SE, was discontinued in 2018, and the last iOS device with a headphone jack, the seventh-generation iPod, was discontinued earlier this year.

What iPhone has one camera and no home button? ›

On the iPhone X – which has no Home button – there's no Touch ID. Instead, the improved “Selfie” camera doubles as a facial recognition device, called Face ID, which scans your face, and only unlocks the phone if it recognizes you.

Can I Unlock iPhone without home button? ›

You can rest assured that even without the home button, you can still unlock your iPhone via Touch ID, iTunes, or iCloud.

What is the cheapest iPhone to buy? ›

iPhone SE. The iPhone SE is the absolutely cheapest iPhone you can buy new at $429. Despite rocking an old design that's been around since the iPhone 6, this handset features Apple's latest A15 Bionic chip.

Will iPhone 7 still work in 2022? ›

Today, both devices support Apple's iOS 15 software. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus did not get upgraded to iOS 16 when it was released in late 2022.

What does SE stand for iPhone? ›

iPhone SE stands for 'Special Edition,' not something else.

When did Apple ditch the home button? ›

Apple first released an iPhone without a Home button in 2017, replacing it with the notch and swapping Touch ID for Face ID facial recognition, but has continued to sell cheaper handsets with the old button.

When did iPhone discontinue the home button? ›

(Note: The first iPhone with Face ID and no Home button was the iPhone X, which was released in 2017.)

Why was haptic touch removed? ›

Apple began cutting 3D Touch with the iPhone XR, though the iPhone XS and XS Max did contain the technology, the iPhone 11 did not. The last Apple Watch to have Force Touch was the Series 5. The implication is that Apple did not want to pay a licensing fee for this technology and simply removed it.

Why did Apple removed Force touch? ›

Why did Apple remove 3D Touch from the new iPhone? Because 3D Touch is complicated and expensive both to manufacture and repair. Therefore by removing it from the iPhone XR it enabled them to charge less.

Is Apple killing old iPhones? ›

Apple culls iPhone's older models from its list every year after new OS update. Notably, every year, the company kills older iPhone models from its list of handsets that are not compatible with newer versions of iOS.

Why doesn't iPhone have 3D Touch anymore? ›

Guess what? Several people didn't figure it out how to use it. As a consequence, developers became less interested in supporting 3D Touch, and even Apple stopped caring about the feature at a certain point when it realized that most users wouldn't mind having the feature replaced by long presses.

Why do new iphones not have 3D Touch? ›

Apple allows application developers to leverage the pressure sensitivity of trackpads and touchscreens into their own apps. 3D Touch was discontinued with the iPhone 11 and onwards in favor of Haptic Touch. Haptic Touch is a feature on the iPhone XR (but not the iPhone XS) and later iPhone models replacing 3D Touch.

What does haptic mean on iPhone? ›

In Settings , change the sounds iPhone plays when you get a call, text, voicemail, email, reminder, or other type of notification. On supported models, you feel a tap—called haptic feedback—after you perform some actions, such as when you touch and hold the Camera icon on the Home Screen.

Why does Apple not use fingerprints? ›

Because, the Cupertino, USA giant has deselected the in-display fingerprint sensor, as is already widely used Android smartphones and may continue to use Face ID for the upcoming flagship model. However, other speculations have come that reveal that the cancellation may be for the iPhone 14.

Why did Apple stop using fingerprint? ›

When it comes to security, Apple's Face ID is regarded as significantly more secure than the 2D Face Unlock systems found in Android smartphones. While they still lag behind the high level of protection offered by fingerprint sensors, Face ID still has the edge in speed and convenience.

Is Touch ID going away? ›

Apple considered reviving Touch ID for its flagship iPhone models, but despite undergoing testing, it's unlikely that the feature will be returning to the main smartphone lineup anytime soon.


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