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iPhone 16 case leak might confirm Apple’s only big design change

Published Jun 24th, 2024 11:19AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro Max Screen
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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All four iPhone 16 models will feature a brand-new button. It’s called the Capture button, and almost every iPhone 16 leak says it’ll be a camera-centric button. We’ve also seen iPhone 16 dummy units and purported cases showing the location of the Capture button. Moreover, several reports have explained how the Capture button should work. You’ll be able to open the camera with the Capture button and then start snapping photos and videos faster than ever.

Rumors also say the Capture button will feature sensors that can measure the pressure of a touch to trigger different actions. The Capture button might work like a DSLR’s shutter button when it comes to focusing. It might also let you swipe between different camera modes.

We now have a new leak showing a purported iPhone 16 or 16 Plus case, complete with the location of the Capture button. And now that the iOS 18 beta is out for existing iPhone models, I have a different perspective on the Capture button, given the design of this case. We might be looking at a capacitive button rather than a physical one, which certainly makes sense. This looks like it will be Apple’s biggest hardware design change on the iPhone 16 series in 2024.

I explained why the iPhone 16’s Capture button is a brilliant idea. It’ll give me even quicker access to the Camera app, which I want from the iPhone, considering I use it constantly. The ability to switch between photo, video, and portrait mode with a button rather than touching the screen would also come in handy.

I’d also prefer to take photos with a dedicated button rather than the touchscreen. I already do that with the Volume keys, but they don’t open the Camera app or switch modes.

With that in mind, let’s check out a video showing a purported iPhone 16 case. Well-known leaker Ice Universe posted the clip below, which shows the iPhone 16 case in question.

How do I know it’s an iPhone 16 case? Well, it has a few telling signs.

First, the camera setup indicates a vertical two-lens camera. Rumors say the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus will have two vertical cameras. The likely explanation for that change is that Apple wants the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus to support spatial photography.

Then there’s the cutout on the right side, under the power button. That’s where the Capture button will probably sit. It is the only place where we have a cutout where a button should be. This tells me that we’re not looking at a physical button. The other buttons the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus will feature, including the Action button, will be covered by protective cases. Just look at the video again.

That’s not enough to confirm that we’re looking at a capacitive button instead of a physical one. Suppose the Capture button packs various features, including support for half-press focus. In that case, it might be better to have that button exposed rather than covered with a protective material. That way, the user would get to feel it.

And, yes, previous iPhone 16 case leaks showed cutouts for the Capture button’s location. But this is where I’ll point out a new animation in iOS 18 regarding button presses. The animation shows the bezel moving inward as if pressing a physical button causes it.

This animation only makes sense if Apple is slowly transitioning to capacitive buttons. You’d want that visual feedback, combined with vibrations that a Taptic Engine would no doubt send to your finger, to register that you have indeed pressed a button.

A capacitive button would let Apple asign more features to the Capture button. That includes support for swiping on the button to change camera modes.

All of this is speculation at this time, but it’s based on how iOS 18 works and a camera leak from a trusted insider. Also, it’s very likely the Capture button is real. We’re at a point where the iPhone 16 design has been long decided. Apple will start manufacturing the iPhone 16 soon, in time for its mid-September launch. That’s why we’re getting all these iPhone 16 dummy and case leaks.

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.