No good reason for the iPhone SE (2020) to be missing Haptic Touch for notifications

iPhone 7 using 3D Touch on Notifications
iPhone 7 using 3D Touch on Notifications (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Even before Apple announced the iPhone SE, everyone sort of knew what to expect from the budget iPhone. The old iPhone 8 form factor — including the big bezels and Touch ID — with Apple's own A13 Bionic chip at a reasonable price. The good news is Apple delivered on that promise. The iPhone SE is a fantastic phone for its price point; however, there's something wonky going on with Haptic Touch and notifications on the new iPhone SE.

Ever since 3D Touch was first introduced on the iPhone 6s, every iPhone has been able to expand notifications from the lock screen using either 3D Touch or Haptic Touch. The new iPhone SE can't do this, despite being able to use Haptic Touch in every other instance — it's bizarre.

3D Touch vs. Haptic Touch

Haptic Touch: The Ultimate Guide (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

I was always a fan of 3D Touch, the feel of pressing the screen with a bit of pressure felt so satisfying, and I wish that Haptic Touch hadn't replaced it, but the features essential function the same way, so it was never a big deal.

What's weird about this whole situation is the way the iPhone 8 handles Haptic Touch and 3D Touch. Since the iPhone 8 has 3D Touch, you can go into settings and toggle the feature on and off. Interestingly enough, when 3D Touch is off on the iPhone 8, it also can't use Haptic Touch to expand notifications; however, when 3D Touch is on, it can expand notifications.

This tells me that there's something a little odd in the Haptic Touch software, and how it's processing that one specific interaction. Apparently, the software works as intended, though, so perhaps it's just a weird limitation on from the old form factor of the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE, we might never know.

Not a deal breaker but a weird misstep

iPhone SE 2016 Rose Gold iPhone Xs Gold, iPhone SE 2020 Black (Image credit: iMore)

Of course, the new iPhone SE has Haptic Touch — as everyone expected — but now it doesn't work the same way as it does on the other iPhones.

When you buy an iPhone SE, you expect certain compromises. You know you're not getting Face ID or an OLED screen, but you do expect the software to work the same. While I don't think this is a big enough dealbreaker to prevent most people from buying the iPhone SE (2020), it is a weird misstep for Apple, and I don't really understand it.

What do you think?

Is not being able to use Haptic Touch to expand notifications a dealbreaker for you? Let us know in the comments down below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

  • I'm pretty sure the Xr had a similar limitation at first that was fixed later? Or am I dreaming? If intentional, this crosses the line, IMHO, of Apple holding back a feature to avoid parity with its newer phones... bordering on petty. If unintentional, then hopefully we'll see the fix soon, and everybody needs to complain or send in a bug report about this.
  • I just think it’s funny how you complain on a lower level iPhone not working the same as the higher end version of iPhone does. Do you remember the saying “You get what you pay for???”
  • I am truly amazed at the amount of noise this little issue has generated. Is it not possible, even likely that Haptic Touch for Notifications is handled by an API that is specific to 3D touch? This would explain Apple's apparent comment (via Matthew Panzarino) that it is 'working as expected' and not a bug. Perhaps there's a change in the upcoming iOS release that will address this, maybe they're changing things under the hood in a major way and had make a judgement call to make a different deadline. My bigger question is why is this such a big deal? The amount of rancor and gnashing about a relatively minor feature (one that I personally have never used but whatever) is truly amazing. If everyone who has whined about this or left a comment on a site actually bought an SE 2020, it would probably be a humongous bestseller. For the record I bought 2, waiting for delivery.
  • I don’t even know what 3D Touch is. Or Haptic Touch. I have two iPhone 8 pluses and several iPads. All I know is I touch the screen, something responds.
  • It's a failed attempt at making ios more "android" like. Giving extra options at harder press on the screen or longer. I never use it and find it annoying at times.