One of the significant design improvements in this year’s iPhone update appears to have been scrapped. Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims in a post on Medium today that Apple no longer intends to adopt a solid-state button design on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.
He writes, “My latest survey indicates that both high-end iPhone 15 Pro models (Pro & Pro Max) will return to the traditional physical button design due to unresolved technical issues prior to mass production, abandoning the closely watched solid-state button design.”
As far back as October 2022, rumors suggested that the Pro versions of the late 2023 iPhones would have solid-state power and volume buttons, and the theory was largely accepted as fact until this spring. (We discussed their likely impact in a cost-benefit analysis last month, for example.) In fact, it was Kuo himself who originally spun the rumor, albeit with the classic caveat “may.”
My latest survey shows that the volume button and power button of two new iPhone models of the high-end iPhone 15/2H23 may adopt a solid-state button design (similar to the home button design of iPhone 7/8/SE2 & 3). , to replace the physical/mechanical button design.
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) October 28, 2022
In other words, the buttons wouldn’t physically push inward, instead using a haptic mechanism to mimic the feel of a click in response to pressure and skin contact. It appears that this approach is proving difficult to enforce.
Apple did something similar in 2016 when the iPhone 7 launched with a solid-state home button. The idea was that eliminating a moving part reduced the likelihood of mechanical problems: in previous iterations, the home button was one of the most failure-prone parts of the iPhone. But the new design wasn’t universally loved either; We called it “weird” and “weird” at the time, and its inability to work with non-capacitive gloves was an issue with the iPhone SE.
Additionally, using a static design specifically on the power button is more difficult than the home button. Such designs need strength; For example, if you’ve turned off one of Apple’s latest MacBooks, trying to press the solid-state trackpad is like pressing a flat and unresponsive aluminum plate. Of course, the power button must also work when the iPhone is switched off.
It’s unclear if this is the “unresolved technical issue” or if the rumor was circulating from the start; the cynic might find that Kuo is quite comfortable making headlines twice, first by spreading a rumor and then by busting it. But Kuo is generally well-informed, and as he notes in the Medium post, Apple still has time to change its mind.
“The iPhone 15 Pro is currently in EVT [Engineering Validation Test] Development phase,” he writes, “so there is still time to modify the design.”
For the latest news and rumors ahead of the launch this fall, check out our regularly updated iPhone 15 Superguide, which includes comprehensive information on the Pro models, or check out our iPhone 15 Ultra rumor round-up. If you don’t want to (or can’t) wait that long, use our iPhone buying guide to find the best current model for your needs.