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iPhone 16’s mysterious Capture button might have an explanation

Published Dec 18th, 2023 6:50AM EST
iPhone 15 Pro profile shows the Action button.
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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The first iPhone 16 rumors dropped soon after the iPhone 15 launch, delivering a remarkable detail. All 2024 iPhones would feature two buttons. First, the Action button the iPhone 15 Pros have will trickle down to the base iPhone 16/Plus models. More importantly, all four iPhone 16 variants would receive a mysterious Capture button. This one will sit on the right side of the handset, under the power/standby button.

Considering its name, I speculated at the time that the Capture button might be related to the iPhone’s camera. However, the reports detailing the existence of this new capacitive button did not offer a precise purpose for it. Fast-forward to mid-December and Mark Gurman says the iPhone’s 16 new button will be a video recording shortcut.

The Bloomberg reporter detailed Apple’s plans for next year in a new edition of his Power On newsletter. He said that Apple will focus on everything but the iPhone next year, though the iPhone will remain Apple’s most important product.

The iPhone 16 will not get any major changes, Gurman said. That’s where he dropped the detail about the new Capture button:

The iPhone will still get an upgrade next year, of course. It’s the company’s most important product and still brings in more than half of revenue. But there won’t be major changes: Apple plans to retain the iPhone 15’s design while increasing screen sizes on the Pro version. Lower-end models will get the Action button, and there will be a new dedicated button for taking video.

Gurman didn’t offer a name for the Capture button, nor did he share more details about why Apple thinks it needs a new dedicated button on the iPhone.

Also, it’s unclear whether the Capture button will be customizable like the Action button. I first thought the Capture button could offer additional shortcuts, but I’m now reconsidering that stance.

iPhone 15 Back
iPhone 15 has a dual-camera system. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Maybe the Capture button should be just a big shortcut to the video recording mode of the Camera app. Think about it; we consume so much video via social media right now. And a lot of it comes from smartphones. More importantly, video recording will play a different role in Apple’s iPhone future.

Rumors say the iPhone 16’s camera setup will get a noticeable design change next year. Instead of the diagonal structure for the two-lens camera, we’re getting vertical camera modules again. We haven’t seen those since the iPhone 12 series.

Apple might want to realign the cameras for them to shoot spatial videos that you can then play on the Vision Pro. Currently, you can only use the iPhone 15 Pros for that purpose.

I’m speculating, but Apple might want people to care about spatial video recordings. That’s where a Capture shortcut might come in handy. The longer play might be getting iPhone buyers interested in the Vision Pro. Only the headset will be able to offer immersive spatial video access.

Gurman says Apple is still trying to figure out the key selling points for the headset “but does seem to believe it could become a big part of its financial story within a few years.” Just like the Apple Watch, it might take a few years for the Vision Pro to become popular.

The report further notes that Apple might launch the Vision Pro between late January and “sometime in” February. Use of the spatial computer has increased at the company. And, more importantly, Apple is giving Vision Pro demos to some press members, “particularly around spatial video.”

Back to the iPhone 16’s Capture button, maybe that’s what the button is. An indirect shortcut to a Vision Pro future. Even if it might take years until some iPhone users get their first spatial computers, they’d already be trained on quickly capturing video on their devices.

I’m only speculating here, of course. But, again, it makes sense that a “Capture” button should be tied to the iPhone’s Camera app.

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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