Will the iPhone 16 Get Solid-State Buttons?

iPhone 16 concept 6 Credit: Ali Sayed Ali
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One of the biggest rumors about last year’s iPhone 15 lineup that never panned out was that some of the new models would gain solid-state buttons. There’s every reason to believe that Apple was working on the idea, but apparently, it couldn’t make it work and was forced to scrap the new button design before moving the iPhone 15 Pro into mass production.

As a result, by the time the iPhone 15 lineup was released in September, nobody was expecting the new buttons to appear. However, at least one analyst suggested that Apple hadn’t abandoned its plans entirely but had merely pushed it off to the iPhone 16 instead.

The story from Apple’s supply chain wasn’t that the concept had failed but rather that Apple simply ran out of time to deal with some “unresolved technical issues.” In the end, Apple decided it was better to return to the standard mechanical button configuration than risk delaying the release of the iPhone 15 or ending up with a shorter supply.

This all happened about five months before the release of the iPhone 15, during a period known as the Engineering Validation Testing (EVT) phase. This is the point at which Apple needs to commit to a final design and the last chance to make significant changes to the iPhone before it moves on to preparations for mass production.

The solid-state, or capacitative, buttons ended up being largely forgotten after that. Despite rumors that Apple would revisit them for the iPhone 16, we’ve surprisingly heard almost nothing about them this year. There are lots of reports about the new Capture button that’s supposedly coming to all four iPhone 16 models, but there is no word on what form the side button or volume controls will take.

However, a new report from Economic Daily News (via MacRumors) suggests that Apple’s plans for solid-state buttons are back in full swing.

According to the report, Apple recently ordered a significant number of components related to capacitative buttons, including modules required to tie into Taptic Engine motors on both sides of the iPhone. Taiwan’s Advanced Semiconductor Engineering is reported to have been the winning supplier for the order.

solid state side button sensitivity custom iphone 15 pro

The Taptic Engines are the best indication of the move to capacitative buttons, as they’re required to provide the necessary feedback that lets a user “feel” the press like they would for a mechanical button. This is the same technology used for the capacitative Home button in the iPhone 7 and later Touch ID models. The Home button on those phones doesn’t actually click, but it feels like it when you press on it, thanks to haptic feedback.

However, as MacRumors points out, there’s a strong possibility that these new components are actually designed for next year’s iPhone 17. Like last year, the iPhone 16 models should already be in the EVT phase at this point, which means Apple should have been lining up suppliers for these components long before now. Economic Daily News also indicates that these components won’t enter volume production from the supplier until the third quarter of this year, which seems a bit eleventh-hour for Apple’s iPhone production plans.

Combine that with the lack of other rumors that Apple is switching to capacitative buttons this year — some reports suggest even the Capture button will be mechanical — and it’s best to take this one with a healthy dose of skepticism.

[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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