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iPhone 15 Pro won’t get solid-state buttons, the feature I was most excited about

Published Apr 12th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro in Space Black and iPhone 14 Pro in Silver on a wood desk
Image: Jonathan Geller BGR

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Two new reports claim Apple has postponed the big design change all 2023 iPhone rumors detailed so far. The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max should have featured solid-state buttons, replacing the physical buttons you’ve been used to so far. But it appears that Apple decided to delay the implementation of these capacitive buttons due to manufacturing issues. That’s an unfortunate turn of events for one of the iPhone 15 features I was actually excited about. Apple isn’t likely to drop it completely, however.

As an iPhone 14 Pro user, upgrading to any iPhone 15 model isn’t at the top of my priorities list. The arrival of USB-C support is one reason to switch, though I can postpone the upgrade to 2024 or even later.

The solid-state buttons aren’t necessarily a reason to buy the newest iPhone. I think the feature is exciting because it paves the way for a future where the iPhone will have no ports or physical buttons. That iPhone will be waterproof and might feature a perfect all-screen display.

Turning the mute switch into a capacitive button also means the switch can support different functionalities. Like the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button. And that was one of the rumored features of the iPhone 15 Pro models.

Fast-forward to early Wednesday and a couple of reports say that Apple has abandoned plans to equip the iPhone 15 Pros with solid-state buttons. Per 9to5Mac, Haitong Tech analyst Jeff Pu learned on Tuesday that the iPhone 15 Pro would retain the physical buttons of its predecessor. The blog said they corroborated the report.

Pu said the capacitive buttons would have a complex design. Apple must place three Taptic Engines inside the iPhone to make them work. As a result, Apple decided to delay the feature until next year.

Early on Wednesday, analyst Ming-Chi Kup penned a report on Medium where he mentioned the same developments.

“Unresolved technical issues before mass production” reportedly forced Apple to abandon the solid-state buttons for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. Kuo says Apple will revert to the classic physical button design. The design change will not impact the iPhone 15’s release:

The iPhone 15 Pro is currently in the EVT development stage, so there is still time to modify the design. In addition, removing the solid-state buttons and restoring physical buttons will simplify the development and testing process. Based on these factors, removing solid-state buttons should have a limited impact on the mass production schedule and shipments for Pro models.

It’s unclear whether the mute switch can still become an Action button. But even the mute switch would require a Taptic Engine, so the user gets haptic feedback when pressing it.

This isn’t the first time Apple has delayed an iPhone feature. The 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate is one example that comes to mind. iPhone 12 rumors said that Apple was testing 120Hz displays. But Apple only brought 120Hz displays to iPhone a year after that.

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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