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What is the iPhone 16’s mysterious Capture button?

Published Sep 26th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro profile shows the Action button.
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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Most iPhone 15 buyers are still getting used to the new handsets, but we already have the first iPhone 16 rumors out. One of the most puzzling ones claims that Apple is looking to add another button to the iPhone. The iPhone 16 will get a mysterious Capture button that will work just like the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro.

If the Capture button works as intended during testing, Apple will add it to all iPhone 16 models. Currently available only on the iPhone 15 Pros, the Action button is supposedly coming to all 2024 iPhones next year.

The new button is known internally as the “Capacitive Button,” or “Project Nova.” The button will supposedly be one of the main selling points of the iPhone 16. That’s according to MacRumors’ sources who have detailed the new capacitive button.

The Capture button will be a capacitive button rather than a mechanical one. It’ll give you the impression you’re pressing a button, thanks to vibrations from the Taptic Engine. The button could also detect pressure and touch and, therefore, support various types of commands.

The Capture button will sit under the iPhone’s power/standby button on the handset’s right side. The addition of a new button to the iPhone would be the first such design change since the introduction of the iPhone.

iPhones always had a mute switch, volume rockers, and a power button. Moreover, the iPhones featured a Home button under the display until the iPhone X’s all-screen design dropped in 2017.

iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max: Camera systems.
iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max: Camera systems. Image source: Jonathan Geller for BGR

MacRumors previously detailed Apple’s purported “Project Bongo” for the iPhone 15 Pro series. Apple wanted to replace the volume rockers with a single capacitive button. It also wanted to turn the power button into a capacitive button.

However, Apple had to cancel the project early during development. The blog cites “unsatisfactory test results and a significant number of hardware issues” as the reasons for the cancellation.

The report says the Capture button will be available on all four iPhone 16 models. Moreover, it’ll be available on eSIM-only and SIM models. However, Apple is also designing iPhone 16 versions without Capture buttons in case the project fails.

That said, there’s no clear description of the purpose of the Capture button. As the name implies, the button might be related to the camera, one of the core features of the iPhone. But that’s just speculation from this longtime iPhone user, however.

Apple is apparently redesigning the Action button to turn it into a capacitive button:

Along with the new Capture Button, the ‌iPhone 16‌ lineup is expected to gain a capacitive Action Button. Known as ‘Project Atlas,’ the haptic Action Button uses a design similar to the Capture Button, using strain gauges and reluctance motor to provide the necessary haptic feedback.

Like the Capture button, the new Action button should be available on all four models. The Action button is already an interesting iPhone 15 Pro feature that can be used to add powerful shortcuts to a simple button press.

MacRumors cites other changes coming to the iPhone 16 series. The base models are going to get a new vertical camera arrangement that we haven’t seen on iPhones since the iPhone 12. The handsets will also feature larger displays, going up from 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch to 6.3-inch and 6.9-inch, respectively.

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.