The iPhone 16 ‘Capture Button’ May Do Much More Than We Thought

iPhone Ultra Concept Credit: 4RMD
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One of the most significant design changes to come to last year’s iPhone 15 Pro lineup was the addition of a new multi-function Action button that replaced the classic ring/silent switch. However, it looks like that was just the tip of the iceberg; Apple has much bigger plans for buttons on the iPhone.

Even the iPhone 15 Pro had to be scaled back from Apple’s original plan, which was supposedly to move to solid-state buttons, with a single, unified button for volume control and possibly even a haptic side button.

Sadly, manufacturing problems delayed these to the iPhone 16 lineup, leaving the Action button as the only sign of what might have been. However, if these solid-state buttons make the cut for this year’s iPhone 16, they’ll likely appear alongside yet another special new button that’s been dubbed the “Capture Button.”

We first heard reports of the Capture Button shortly after the iPhone 15 lineup debuted, and it was a big enough deal to have its own code name: “Project Nova.” At the time, MacRumors predicted it was “likely to be one of the main selling points of the ?iPhone 16? lineup,” which sounded a bit hyperbolic for a mere button.

Even at the end of last year, another report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman referred to it merely as a “new dedicated button for taking video.” If you don’t think that sounds like a game-changer for the iPhone, you’re probably right.

After all, as handy as it would be to have a dedicated button for taking pictures — especially if it was optimally placed — it’s still just a button. However, now we have a follow-up report that suggests that “Project Nova” may be much more than a simple button.

Last week, The Information’s Wayne Ma echoed the earlier comments from MacRumors that the button would be a “key selling point” for the iPhone 16 lineup, adding that it’s designed for taking videos and photos while holding the iPhone horizontally.

Apple is testing a new button on prototypes of the iPhone 16 to help people quickly take videos and photos when they hold the device horizontally, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. Apple has envisioned the new camera button as a key selling point for the device, these people said.

Wayne Ma

Ma goes on to say that the button is designed in response to “individual video content creators and mobile apps that host user-generated content” like TikTok, that have “increasingly shift[ed] their attention to horizontal videos” since these play nicer on larger screens like televisions.

However, the key point in Ma’s report is that this “Capture Button” will do more than take pictures and start and stop video recording.

Instead, sources say the touch-sensitive “Capture Button” will also support a range of gestures, allowing users to do things like zoom in and out by moving their finger along the edge of the button.

Interestingly, the button may not be capacitative. According to The Information, it will be mechanical with a touch-sensitive surface on top, perhaps similar in concept to the Touch ID button found on Apple’s non-Pro iPad models. It will also be pressure-sensitive, allowing it to work more like a traditional shutter button on a digital camera. For example, users will be able to focus with a light or partial press and then push all the way down to capture a photo or start a recording.

Since the Capture Button is intended to assist with horizontal photography and videography, Apple reportedly plans to put it on the right side of the iPhone, below the power button, where the user’s left finger would naturally rest on it when holding the iPhone sideways to take photos or record video. To facilitate this, the mmWave antenna on US models will need to be moved to the left side, where the SIM card slot used to live before Apple eliminated it in the US iPhone 14 lineup.

Of course, as with all such rumors, take these with a healthy dose of salt or your favorite sodium alternative. While there are enough corroborating reports to suggest Apple is working on a Capture Button, the company has yet to finalize the design of the iPhone 16, and even when it does, just like last year’s saga of the solid-state buttons, there’s no guarantee the “Capture Button” will make it into the final product.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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