iPhone 16 leak reveals Apple may have ditched bold design change for more of the same

iPhone 15 Plus review
(Image credit: Future)

Ahead of its anticipated launch in September next year, we’ve just been given our first look at what could be Apple’s next best iPhone, the iPhone 16. 

We’ve heard a few rumors and leaks already about the prospective design of the iPhone 16, but this looks to be our most significant design leak so far. As shared by MacRumors, the iPhone 16 is expected to get “modifications to the buttons and the camera layout.” 

The outlet shared details of several early pre-production designs and the changes Apple has considered. The earliest iteration of the iPhone (left) reveals Apple’s “earliest known button design with an Action button, unified volume button, and ‌iPhone‌ X-style camera bump.” According to the report, this was Apple's earliest (and boldest) stab at the next iPhone. The second iteration (middle) features the same Action button, but separate mechanical volume buttons and a camera that is oriented vertically rather than diagonally, but not unified like the iPhone X. The final design MacRumors is “expecting at this point” (right) features a larger Action button and Apple’s new Capture button

iPhone 16 pre production models side by side

(Image credit: MacRumors)

iPhone 16 — to not boldly go 

From these reports and the leaked renders, we can see Apple started out with a very bold and distinctive iPhone 16 design that would have been a real head-turner and a welcome refresh from the current iPhone 15, which was a great design upgrade over the iPhone 14. However, while Apple still looks set to make some key changes, it won’t be nearly as drastic as it could have been, which is a real shame based on these renders. 

As the report notes the big changes are the vertical camera configuration, which “has so far remained constant throughout different development stages,” the Action button from the iPhone 15 Pro, and the new Capture button. The big omission is the unified volume button, which the report says was also scrapped for the iPhone 15 Pro. 

According to these renders the iPhone 16 Capture button will sit on the right-hand side of the device below the Lock button, matching the former’s design. The button is reportedly capacitive and “will feature a force sensor.” Given how early in the design these leaks have come, this, along with some of the other aforementioned changes could get the chop if they prove too difficult to manufacture or Apple changes it mind. At the business end of the iPhone, the display, there are no changes to speak of depicted here. 

Despite Apple’s current iPhone lineup only being a couple of months old, the leaks are sure to whet the appetite of those who skipped this year’s models in favor of the next iteration, or of customers who aren’t serial iPhone upgrades. While the next Apple event is expected to take place in March, Apple’s September iPhone event has become a mainstay in the company’s yearly schedule, and there’s nothing to indicate that this will change next year. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9