APPLE could be working on a major design change to the iPhone.
Industry insiders suggest that Apple is secretly developing a new button design for next year’s iPhone 15.
Specifically, Apple is reportedly working on replacing the physical volume buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro.
In their place would be “haptic feedback” pads that vibrate to make it “feel” like you’re pressing a button.
That’s according research firm Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O’Malley in an investor note seen by MacRumors.
They say that a new chip could be added to the iPhone to manage these haptic buttons.
“To be clear, the company hasn’t said much here other than that the chip is mixed signal and not in the power domain,” the Barclays analysts wrote.
“When looking at potential use cases, the largest change in new iPhone models next year is the removal of the buttons.
“Which would require additional drivers for the haptics engine, making it the most likely use case for new content.”
It follows a similar previous claim by well-respected TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in October.
He said that we would see an iPhone 15 Pro with “solid-state” haptic volume and power buttons.
The two devices would feature two bonus Taptic Engines that simulate a button-press.
But there would be no actual movement.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Apple had used this kind of haptic trick to simulate a button.
Apple has used a Taptic Home button on several iPhone models, including the iPhone 8 and recent iPhone SE devices.
They use a vibration and a sound effect to simulate a button-press, even though no actual movement has occurred.
This is also how Apple’s Force Touch trackpads work on recent MacBook models.
Sadly, it’s looking unlikely that the change will come to the regular iPhone 15 models.
Instead it will only be available on the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro devices, according to the insiders.
Haptic buttons can improve waterproofing, and reduce device wear by limiting moving parts.
It’s unclear if Apple will follow through on these plans however, so take all rumours and leaks with a pinch of salt.
When is the iPhone 15 out?
Apple tends to stick to the same rough release schedule each year.
The big launch event always takes place in September, and generally falls early on in the month – on a Tuesday or Wednesday, typically.
For 2023, the most likely iPhone 15 reveal dates would be either Tuesday, September 12 or Wednesday, September 13.
The Wednesday might seem likelier, if only to put a bit of breathing room between the iPhone launch and September 11, an important day of remembrance for the 9/11 World Trade Centre tragedy.
Then we’d likely see iPhone 15 pre-orders going live on Friday, September 15.
This would probably be followed by the rollout of the next iOS software update (iOS 17?) on Monday, September 18.
Next we’d suspect that iPhone 15 reviews would drop on Wednesday, September 20.
And finally, the iPhone 15 release date would likely fall on Friday, September 22.
Of course, Apple could shift this entire process one week earlier (like it did for the 2022 release), but the rough format will almost certainly remain the same.
Sadly it’s impossible to say what Apple’s exact iPhone 15 plans are.
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