For me personally, I have little interest in whether the buttons are mechanical or solid-state, but I would very much like that Action button …
The solid-state button reports
When our 3D render artist Ian Zelbo examined iPhone 15 Pro CAD drawings last month, he concluded that they pointed to Apple dropping its mechanical buttons and mute switch, and replacing them with solid-state buttons.
New CAD drawings point to the iPhone 15 Pro volume control being a single rocker-style button, rather than two separate ones for up and down.
Additionally, the moving mute switch may be replaced by a button, as Apple makes a switch from mechanical controls to solid-state ones.
This was supported by a leaker who got Dynamic Island details right on the iPhone 14 Pro.
It was also consistent with Apple’s fondness for switching from mechanical movements to solid-state ones with haptic motors to simulate the feel of movement. The company first did this with MacBook trackpads, and later with the Home button on the iPhone 7.
There are a number of benefits to solid-state buttons. With no need to allow clearance for physical movement, the devices can be better sealed against the ingress of water and dust – and with no switches to wear out, they offer greater reliability and longevity.
iPhone 15 Action button
But to me the most interesting part of the reports was the confirmation from the anonymous Dynamic Island leaker. He said that not only was the mechanical mute switch being replaced with a solid-state button, but that this was being referred to within Apple as an action button.
This suggested that it would be user-programmable, like the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra. Many people keep their iPhones muted at all times, relying on vibrations for alerts, so may wish to use the button for something else.
This appealed to me because I’d love a dedicated button to switch on my iPhone and open the Camera app, so it’s immediately ready to take a photo. This would be a significant improvement on the long-press on the camera button on the lock screen.
Others wanted to map it to other things, while Macworld’s Jason Snell hoped it might be contextually controllable, to have different functions in different apps.
As my colleague Benjamin Mayo punned, the button reports are not yet in a solid state. The first source to cast doubt, Jeff Pu, said that Apple “may” not make the change, due to the complexity of the haptic motors required.
Ming-Chi Kuo says that he believed the decision was close to a done deal, but that there was still time for Apple to change its mind. So it appears Apple hasn’t yet pressed the button on the decision.
But if Apple does abandon the solid-state plans, what about the Action button? Does it mean that Apple would revert to the existing setup, including the mute switch? Or is there still the possibility of replacing it with a mechanical Action button?
That would be my hope – but not, sadly, my belief. While I can accept that we’re still early enough for Apple to postpone a decision on whether or not to go ahead with a planned change, I’d very much expect the fallback position to be “keep things as they are.”
What’s your view? Is there still hope for an Action button, even if Apple doesn’t make the switch to solid-state? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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