Yes, iPhone 7 Home button works fine with capacitive gloves

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There's a bit of a brouhaha happening right now over iPhone 7's Home button. Specifically, that it requires skin contact to activate, thus hampering it's ability to work in winter, maybe even if you're wearing capacitive gloves. Here's the deal:

  1. Yes, the new Home button is capacitive. We've known that since the September 7 event. It uses the same ring as Touch ID to detect finger (or any capacitive) contact and turn on. That's to save power.
  2. This has led some people to worry it won't be useful in winter, when they're wearing gloves. More to the point, there have been some claims that capacitive gloves, the kinds people have been wearing for years to use the iPhone screen in winter, somehow don't work with the new Home button.
  3. It's always possible to miss the ring when you jab it with a capacitive glove, especially the dinky ones with capacitive blobs on them, or that the capacitive coating has worn away in the spot you're jabbing with, but otherwise it should work exactly the same for the Home button as it does for the screen.

I don't typically wear gloves when I use my iPhone in winter, and I've lived through nine -30c winters as an iPhone user. I do have a bunch of capacitive gloves — thanks, family gifts! — and they all worked fine in my tests. My colleague, Serenity Caldwell, tested hers and they worked fine too (see the video, above.)

As for non-capacitive gloves, you can't and never have been able to use those on the iPhone's screen, which means no apps, no taps, no swipes anyway. It's why capacitive gloves exist.

Of course, there's still a physical power button on the side you can use to turn your iPhone 7 on or off, if you just want to check out lock screen info, or better still, iOS 10 Raise to Wake.

Touch ID won't work with capacitive gloves, because they cover your fingerprint, but you can still press to bring up Passcode, then tap it in.

To recap: iPhone 7 Home button may be virtual, but as long as you use a finger or some other capacitive touch, it works pretty much the same as the physical Home buttons of past iPhones.

Enjoy your weekend!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I LOVE the new home button. It feels perfect and I use setting number two. I don't think I'd like to go back to a actuating home button ever again. Virtual is awesome! Sent from the iMore App
  • What a concept eh? Virtual buttons. Such revolutionary concept from Apple.
  • Lol. People don't get out much Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Not quite the same as Android's "virtual buttons" which take up a part of your screen and work the same as anything else on the touch screen. The new iPhone home button still requires pressure so you don't accidentally tap it and provides haptic feedback, so in a way it is actually revolutionary, to have something which still feels like a button but won't break nearly as easily
  • It's also useable by people with low or no vision.
  • It's way different than any Android phone I've had Android phones. In fact l, I've had Android since the days when I came out with G1 and I had that on the first day. I've had Nexus devices in numerous amounts, but when the iPhone SE came out and then now the iPhone 7, it just suits my needs better than the Android. I like flagship in a smaller package and seems like if you want to get a really good Android phone you need to get a big phone. That's not me. To each their own right? There's different flavors for everyone. That's the beauty of this industry. Sent from the iMore App
  • Wait, Bob, you mean people who prefer other platforms *don't* have to feel threatened if someone else has made a different choice? Huh! I'm looking forward to a 7 Plus when I've saved up enough Apple bux. And maybe a Note 7 (the fixed version, of course) or 8 some day.
  • I never understood why iPhone users have to hate Android users or the other way round. There are some things I really like about Android, and there are some things I really like about iOS. I'm more to the iOS side, which is why I have an iPhone, but I'm happy with whatever people choose, it's their life, and their phone choice. It's not impacting on anyone else
  • Haters will hate.
  • Hey Rene, I knew there was a good reason you've got the grit to put up with all the trolls around here and keep publishing such a great Apple-centric site: you have to deal with frigid weather every winter like we do here in the Land of 10,000 (actually, about 20,000) Lakes. Keep up the good work!
  • Yep read about it on 9to5Mac. Bound to happen Rene. Some troll must find an 'end of the world' issue at each new iPhone launch. Next move is too keep noise about it and get everyone worked up. Wonder how long it's going to take to get it on the morning tech news and there you have it '_____gate' for this years iPhone. Jokers all. Just like you Rene hardly use gloves and when I do have gloves and it's truly cold out I just take em off if I have to access touch on the home screen. Sent from the iMore App
  • It puzzles me why no other manufacturer has licensed / copied the tech used by Nokia years ago that allows one to use a touchscreen with any gloves. I remember it on an early Lumia and it worked brilliantly.
  • There's nothing unique about Nokia's base tech, far as I can remember. All multitouch screens can detect outward from the display, but different companies do different things with that potential. So far, Apple has used it to map your hand and determine not only how many fingers but which fingers you're using on the display, which they believe tremendously boosts accuracy. Apple could use it the same way as Nokia and some Android vendors, it's simply a matter of trade-offs.
  • I just ran into a related issue this morning, while I was on a run. My iPhone was in its armband, and I wanted to switch from my running app to the Podcasts to choose another podcast to listen to. Normally, I would do this by double-pressing the Home button and then selecting another app. But since the new Home button isn't actually a button, this doesn't work anymore. I guess I'll have to use Siri from now on. Otherwise, I'm really loving the new Home button!
  • Good point! Apple is definitely trying to transition users to Siri for those sorts of commands (see AirPods), but I can see how that'd be a pain.
  • That's all good if Siri worked as well as google now. Half of the time it doesn't get what I'm saying but OK Google gets more than 90% of the time. I wish I could say ok Google to wake up my iPhone instead of not so great Siri. Sent from the iMore App
  • You could turn rest to unlock then you just raise and rest finger on home button without pressing Sent from the iMore App
  • I tried that on my 6 Plus, but it doesn't work reliably. In fact, it worked at first and then stopped working.
  • Rene, thanks for the update. I am surprised, though, that you didn't mention the very simple "Hey Siri" hands free method that works regardless of the type of gloves?
  • Actually, I just used my "capacitive" gloves on my iPhone 7 Plus for the first time today and was surprised to find that my home button was rendered useless when I was wearing the gloves, which caused me to google search and find this article. The screen itself responded fine to the touch, as with previous iPhone versions. I'm curious as to how you made the determination this broad statement was completely accurate?