iPhone 7 may feature home-buttonless design, predicts analyst

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Error 53 has finally been fixed.
Error 53 has finally been fixed.
Photo: Apple

We won’t get a peak of the iPhone 7 until late next year, but when we do its biggest feature may be that it comes without it’s most iconic pieces of hardware: the home button.

Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster is infamous in the Apple community for his incessant predictions that Apple is making a television set. Now the analyst is dipping into some iPhone 7 speculation, claiming that by ditching the home button, the iPhone 7 will come in a smaller form-factor but pack the same screen size.

“3D Touch may provide Apple with a way to eliminate the home button on the phone and use the additional space to make the screen bigger or make the device smaller,” writes Munster. “One barrier to this could be Touch ID, which is integrated into the home button currently. Apple would need to move the Touch ID reader to potentially the side of the phone to remove the home button.”

Gene Munster doesn’t exactly have a great record when it comes to Apple product predictions, however there have been multiple signs that Apple is considering this. A recent patent filing revealed Apple wants to put Touch ID behind the display, rather than on the side, as Munster suggests.

Other patents have pointed to Apple actually keeping the home button and adding new technology and controls to it. Apple recently patented a way to turn Touch ID into a track pad of sorts that can tell which direction your fingerprint is moving and then display two user interfaces based on which way you swipe.

The odds of Apple going with a home button-less iPhone 7 are about 50%, claims Munster, but I’d put it a bit lower than that. He also predicts that Apple will make big improvements to iPhone battery life because the company doubled MacBook battery capacity over the past few years. Sapphire glass displays could also show up on the new devices, but after how badly things went the last time Apple tried, we wouldn’t put money on that either.

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  • Tallest Skil

    I guess if you predict it on every single model it will eventually be true. Just like Apple making a television set!

    Oh, wait, no…

  • CPUGenuis

    *peek

  • Well done to this “analyst”. I could have told you that ages ago. This is what Apple have been planning ever since they introduced Touch ID. With iPhone 6s it’s remarkably fast, the only thing left to do is to embed the sensor into the screen itself and that’s what they’ll do.

    • Tallest Skil

      But why? What makes that better? It’s worse when you don’t have a hardware escape for hanging software. What do you do then?

      • jmholmes83

        Is there anything stopping them from moving that reset from the home button to a, say, volume up + power/sleep combination?

      • abc905

        You do realize a hardware home button works just the same way as a software home button right? And 3D touch can make it feel just like a hardware button too.

      • Tallest Skil

        >>a hardware home button works just the same way as a software home button

        Except when the software locks up and refuses to respond to your touch…

        A hardware button forces a closure or shut down of software. Software… can’t do that.

      • Grayson Mixon

        I find you’re lack of knowledge disturbing. The button sends a signal to a chip that runs some software. The fact that it’s a hardware button has no special powers.

      • Tallest Skil

        The fact that it’s a separate circuit and is used to cut off unresponsive software means it does have special powers.

        When your Mac locks up, hold the power button for ~10 seconds and it will shut down. Imagine not being able to do that.

      • Grayson Mixon

        The home button doesn’t shut off the phone like that. By the way, neither does the power button because you still have to slide to power off.

      • Tallest Skil

        And yet we’re not talking about shutting anything OFF in iOS.

      • abc905

        …except a hardware button is just a software button with a hardware input. it’s not like it’s connected directly to the CPU circuitry. i’ve seen iPhone home buttons lock up plenty of times too. It all depends on the firmware. An dedicated capacitive area for the home button with detection separate from the OS could work just as well as a normal hardware button, if not better, since it won’t wear out.

      • Tallest Skil

        >>it’s not like it’s connected directly to the CPU circuitry.

        I don’t think you understand. THERE IS A PHYSICALLY SEPARATE CIRCUIT THAT CAN TAKE PRECEDENCE.

      • abc905

        Sorry, I meant capacitive button, not software button. If a capacitive button can stop working, so can a hardware button. Physically separate circuit or no. So a capacitive button would be just as effective as a home button, if they dedicated a circuit and chip to it for resetting (though obviously it wouldn’t work unpowered since it takes sensors to work)

  • abc905

    Why not just have a small circle on the bezel where the home button used to be, integrate the touch-id sensor there, and have 3d touch simulate the tactile sensation of the button?

  • Andy Brooks

    This makes total sense if you think about it. Remove the home button and leave the chin buttonless. the whole chin will be a smooth blank glass surface that uses 3D touch with taptic feedback when pressed (Like on the new trackpads), Also the glass with will still read fingerprints all along the chin so that you can place your finger anywhere along the chin to wake-up and unlock.

  • tjwolf

    Everyone who suggests this ignores that the home button not only serves as an input mechanism, but also as a quick way to orient the phone in ones hand! I bet lots of people fish their iPhone out of their pocket without looking and feel for that home button.

  • Millard Kinkead

    Uh, it’s “peek” not “peak”.

  • Grayson Mixon

    The new Nexus devices put the fingerprint sensor on the back so that you use your index finger when holding the phone. That’s a possibility.

  • EKIMMMMM

    the fact that he thinks apple will cram TouchID onto the side of the phone is absurd