Apple's iPhone 15 lineup is already set to get a USB-C port if previous reports are to be believed, but that isn't all that's set to change. Now, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple is getting ready to ditch all of the buttons from next year's models, at least at the top end of the lineup.
According to a series of tweets by Kuo, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will do away with their physical buttons entirely, replacing them with two new Taptic Engines.
If Kuo's information is correct, Apple will put new Taptic Engines on either side of the iPhone. They'll vibrate when solid-state volume and power buttons are pressed, giving the illusion of a physical click.
That's a similar method of faking a moving button that Apple already uses. MacBook trackpads don't actually move but feel like they do when clicked, for example. And the iPhone SE's Home button isn't actually a button at all.
Kuo goes on to say that he expects Luxshare and AAC Technologies to be the companies tasked with providing the extra Taptic Engines. He also believes that the addition of USB-C and the removal of physical buttons will be the main selling points of next year's models.
(1/6)My latest survey indicates that the volume button and power button of two high-end iPhone 15/2H23 new iPhone models may adopt a solid-state button design (similar to the home button design of iPhone 7/8/SE2 & 3) to replace the physical/mechanical button design.October 28, 2022
It's Kuo's belief that Apple's move away from physical buttons is something that Android phone manufacturers will also follow in due course.
The removal of physical buttons would likely allow Apple to remove potential water ingress points, ensuring the new Pro models will be the best iPhones yet in terms of water resistance.
Apple is expected to announce the new iPhone 15 lineup in or around September of 2023, assuming the company follows its usual annual release pattern. All four of those new iPhones are expected to switch to USB-C, ditching Lightning for the first time. Apple has already confirmed it will have to comply with an EU mandate on USB-C phone charging, but didn't specify when it would make the change, either next year or in 2024 in time for the legislation.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.