It's been a big few days for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. We'd seen the phones leak once more thanks to what appeared to be dummy units shared to the Chinese version of TikTok. But the real story was just around the corner.
And it might just have become boring as a result.
Here today, gone tomorrow
We'd been hearing rumors of solid-state buttons for months of course. The idea was a good one — ditch the clicky volume buttons and replace them with something that didn't move at all. They were meant to vibrate using tiny Taptic Engines so as to simulate a click, and I was very happy about that.
I was even happier when I heard about the mute switch.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love the mute switch. I like that I can put a finger on it and know whether my iPhone 14 Pro Max is muted or not. I don't even need to look at it. And I'd miss that if it went away.
But life is about compromises and I was willing to lose the mute switch to get something even better. An Action button.
An Action button, like the Apple Watch Ultra, would let people press a configurable button and have almost anything happen. It'd be pretty great, and it would perhaps be the biggest change to the way we use our iPhones in some time.
But it isn't happening. At least, not according to new reports today. And that sucks.
Those reports tell us that Apple has suffered from "unresolved technical issues," with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying that Apple hasn't been able to resolve them in time for the 2023 releases. So the buttons are staying, apparently.
Where's that leave us? Well, we'll still be getting the USB-C ports and the titanium construction is still coming as far as we're aware. But that USB-C port is also coming to the iPhone 15 and really, what new features do a change in the metal offer?
Buyers of the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get a periscope zoom camera we believe, which is cool and all. And there will be a faster A17 chip as well.
But if I sound disappointed, that's because I am. These are all improvements of course, but in terms of changing the way we use our iPhones, it was all about that Action button. And without it, I'm not sure the new iPhones are quite as interesting as they were yesterday.
A must-buy regardless?
Don't get me wrong here, I'll be upgrading to an iPhone 15 Pro Max because I'm (un)lucky enough to need the new thing for work. And I'll no doubt enjoy every minute of it. Just maybe not as much as I would have.
For those upgrading from an older iPhone, it could still be a no-brainer of course, although that might depend on what Apple does with this year's cameras. We haven't heard all that much beyond that periscope zoom lens, so the jury is still out there. Time will tell, I'm sure.
Without the Action button, I think I might actually be most excited about the death of Lightning and the arrival of USB-C. Being able to charge my iPhone with the same cable that charges my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro just can't happen soon enough.
We're still a few months out from Apple announcing the new iPhones and there is plenty of time for things to change too. Features could still come and go as the rumor mill kicks into overdrive. And we'll only know what Apple really has planned come one September morning.
Fingers crossed for a new button.
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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.