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iPhone 15 Action button and capacitive volume buttons seem so exciting in this leak

Published Apr 17th, 2023 8:28AM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro on a throw
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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We probably know just about everything there is to know about the upcoming iPhone 15 series, as most reports have told the same story. But a few days ago, something unexpected happened. Two analysts, including reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, claimed that Apple has postponed the switch to solid-state buttons until next year. Moving to capacitive buttons, including an Apple Watch Ultra-like Action button, was the big iPhone 15 Pro design change we all expected. It’s also something I am personally excited about.

In the wake of these reports, a relatively new leaker insists that the capacitive buttons, including the Action button, are still planned for this year’s iPhone 15. The person has further detailed the behavior of the Action button. Apple will apparently give it plenty of additional features in addition to just muting the handset.

Separately, a leaker known for his accurate iPhone leaks posted new iPhone 15 dummy units that seem to indicate the capacitive buttons are also coming to the non-Pro models.

@analyst941 is the mysterious Twitter user who leaked accurate information about the iPhone 14’s Dynamic Island last year. A few weeks ago, before Kuo said the button design change was postponed to 2024 or later, the leaker described their functionality.

Since then, he took to Twitter to reveal some of the big iOS 17 features, including support for sideloading. In more recent tweets, the leaker claimed that all of the iPhone 15’s buttons will be capacitive.

Furthermore, the leaker detailed the functionality of the iPhone 15’s Action button inside the Camera app, and its inclusion in powering down the iPhone.

If the information is accurate, you’ll press the Power button and the Action button simultaneously to restart the iPhone. The Action button will replace the Volume Up button for this functionality.

Inside the Camera app, the force-sensitive Action button will supposedly have these features:

  • Light press: auto-focuses the camera
  • Hard press: captures photo
  • Hard, Long-hold press: captures/records video

Using the Action button inside the Camera app is even more interesting. Apple and developers could give the Action button different features depending on the app on the screen. This would make the iPhone’s mute switch a lot more useful than it is now.

While the Action button is a great upgrade for the iPhone, I think the overall switch to capacitive buttons is even more important for the future of the iPhone. As I said before, Apple is working on a “perfect” iPhone design.

The perfect iPhone would have no screen cutouts, physical buttons, or ports. But Apple will slowly introduce these big design changes, and the move to capacitive buttons with the iPhone 15 seems like the first logical step.

That’s why the recent rumors about Apple postponing to switch are puzzling. In addition to @analyst941, we also have more evidence that indicates the iPhone 15 will get capacitive buttons.

Hit-or-miss leaker Sonny Dickson posted photos of purported iPhone 15 dummy units made of metal. The images show a device with an Action button on the side, and what appears to be a long Volume button. The dummy unit seems to have a Dynamic Island notch at the top. But it also features a strange cutout next to the buttons. “IP15-6. 7P” appears to be printed on the display side.

Does that mean we’re looking at an iPhone 15 Pro Max design? Not so fast. The same leaker posted the following image, which seems to come from the same source. We’re looking at the mold of what’s clearly an iPhone 15 or 15 Plus. The two-lens diagonal camera gives it away.

It’s unclear when these photos were taken relative to Kuo’s most recent claims. But they seem to indicate that not only will the iPhone 15 Pros feature capacitive buttons, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will get them too.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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