Entire iPhone 16 lineup could feature force-sensitive Action button


Closeup of iPhone 15’s new Action button.
iPhone 16's Action button could benefit from force-detection capabilities.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple reportedly will bring the iPhone 15 Pro’s Action button to the entire iPhone 16 lineup next year. It will seemingly be a capacitive button and pack a lot of additional functionality.

The new rumor indicates the iPhone 16’s Action button will use a force sensor, allowing it to detect changes in pressure.

Apple tests different sizes for iPhone 16’s Action button

Introduced on this year’s iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, the customizable Action button replaces the mute switch and puts some favorite functions at users’ fingertips. Pressing and holding the Action button can fire up the iPhone flashlight, launch the Camera app or turn on Silent Mode, among other things. And the ability to trigger a custom action using Apple’s Shortcuts app expands the Action button’s capabilities exponentially.

Still, the Action button as it exists now can only do one thing — users must designate what they want it to do. The Action button’s hardware and software limitations — as well as its size and placement — leave some people wanting more.

A fix could be coming soon. Apple apparently plans to enhance the Action button next year and expand it to the rest of the iPhone lineup, according to a MacRumors report based on an internal Apple document.

The leaked document purportedly provides insight into Apple’s plans for the Action button on the 2024 iPhones. Code-named “Atlas,” the project to boost the Action button’s functionality includes experiments with different sizes for the hardware. Some internal prototypes feature a button bigger than the one on the iPhone 15 Pro. And on some other models, the button’s size is similar to the volume keys.

“According to internal documentation, the updated Action button will feature a force sensor, which detects changes in pressure, as well as ‘tact-switching functionality,’ although exactly what the latter entails is currently unclear,” says MacRumors.

It remains unclear if Apple will reposition the Action button. (Its current location makes it hard to reach for some people, diminishing its utility.) Apple also plans to bring the Action button to the 2025 iPhone SE. If this happens, it would mean the end of the mute switch from the iPhone lineup for good.

Action button on 2024 iPhones could detect pressure applied

Thanks to the force sensor, the iPhone 16’s Action button should be able to detect changes in pressure. Presumably, this would allow the button to trigger different actions based on the amount of force applied. The report says the button will “function similarly to the Touch ID Home button on older ‌iPhone‌ models, or the Force Touch trackpad found on more recent MacBooks.”

Rumors indicate that, besides the action button, Apple plans to include a new Capture button on the iPhone 16 Pro. This capacitive key will sit on the same side as the power key, though at a lower position.

The Action button is reportedly present in all the iPhone 16 prototypes Apple is testing. However, Apple could ax the upgrade at the last minute due to technical or production challenges.


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