It looks like one of the most significant design changes has been discontinued in this year’s iPhone update. In a Medium post on Wednesday, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple no longer plans to use the solid-state button design on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. However, a later report denied the claim.
Guo’s latest survey indicates that “due to unresolved technical issues before mass production, both high-end iPhone 15 Pro models (Pro & Pro Max) will abandon the closely-watched solid-state button design and return to a traditional physical button design.” His report sent shares of button suppliers tumbling. Less tested, however, was the leaguer’s tweet @analyst941 Kuo contradicted that, saying that the iPhone 15 Pro “will still have capacitive touch buttons, and contrary to rumors, the development team is working very closely with the new hardware.”
As long ago as October 2022, rumors suggested that Pro versions of iPhones in late 2023 would feature solid-state power and volume buttons, and this theory was largely accepted as true until this spring. (For example, we discussed their potential implications in a cost-benefit analysis last month.) In fact, it was Kuo who initially spread the rumor, albeit with the classic warning word “May.”
In other words, the buttons don’t physically press inward, but instead use a haptic mechanism to mimic a click sensation in response to pressure and skin contact. This approach appears to be difficult to implement.
In 2016, Apple did something similar when the iPhone 7 was introduced with a solid-state home button. Eliminating the moving part was thought to reduce the chance of mechanical problems: in previous iterations, the home button was one of the most buggy parts of the iPhone. But the new design was not universally loved; We called it “odd” and “weird” at the time, and its inability to work with non-capacitive gloves has been an issue with the iPhone SE.
Also, using a consistent design on the power button is more challenging than the home button, in particular. Such designs require power; If you’ve disabled one of Apple’s latest MacBooks, for example, trying to press the solid-state trackpad is like pressing a flat and unresponsive slab of aluminum. However, the power button can do its job when the iPhone is off.
It’s not clear if it’s an “unresolved technical issue” or a rumor started; A cynic might note that Kuo is more comfortable grabbing headlines twice by first starting a rumor and then killing it. But Kuo is generally well-informed, and as he points out in the middle post, Apple still has time to change its mind.
“The iPhone 15 Pro is currently on EVT [Engineering Validation Test] Development stage, he writes, “so there is still time to change the design.”
For the latest news and rumors leading up to this fall’s launch, check out our regularly updated iPhone 15 Super guide, which includes detailed information on the Pro models, or you can check out iPhone 15 Ultra rumors. If you don’t want to (or can’t) wait that long, find the best current model for your needs with our iPhone buying guide.