The iPhone 15 could be the phone that makes the switch from Lightning to USB-C, but also the one that introduces other new concepts to Apple phones. At least on the Pro model range, Apple plans to ditch physical buttons altogether, according to information published by Taiwanese analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple will implement physical buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro body, but only in form, they will be completely static, as we’ve previously seen on the HTC U12+.
The iPhone 15 Pro could be the first iPhone without physical volume buttons
These “solid state” buttons would be the next step towards a completely “sealed” iPhone, with no points for air, water or dust to get in. The company will, however, simulate button presses via Taptic Engine, its advanced vibration system. A similar strategy was adopted for the Home button on the iPhone 6S, 7 and 8, and is still being used on the iPhone SE.
Basically, the Home button on these models was completely static, but the button press was simulated by vibrations. The button could also “feel” the pressure with which it was pressed, to avoid accidental presses. This is how the new buttons should work, but with the addition of two new Taptic Engine vibration motors for each side. One will control the volume up and down buttons, and the other will control the Power button.
Kuo expects that after Apple makes this move to “solid” buttons, we’ll see other phones in the premium device area that tackle similar technologies.
After the negative user response to the HTC U12+, manufacturers have stayed away from such haptic-responsive buttons. In the meantime, however, advanced vibration systems have become standard on premium phones, and Apple always has a different view on implementing technologies in its devices. Presumably if its version proves successful, other manufacturers will try to “copy”. The “standard” iPhone 15 models will not use these buttons, keeping the classic “click” versions.