Why iPhone 16 might dump physical buttons for capacitive ones


Closeup of iPhone 15’s new Action button.
No more traditional buttons like these. iPhone 16 could use capacitive ones instead.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The upcoming iPhone 16 series will have no traditional buttons at all, according to information leaking out of the company that will supply the capacitive buttons that will supposedly replace them.

If true, the change would make the iOS devices more durable and waterproof.

Capacitive buttons could come to iPhone 16

Rumors that physical buttons will be removed from iPhone surfaced back in 2022. But it didn’t happen with the iPhone 15 series after Apple reportedly couldn’t work bugs out of the tech.

The problems have apparently been fixed because Economic Daily reports that ASE Investment Holdings will make capacitive button modules for the iPhone 16. These reportedly will go on both sides of the handset, so there will be no physical buttons at all.

Capacitive buttons register the user’s touch but don’t move. A previous unconfirmed report indicated that Apple would add two Taptic Engines to the iPhone to make it vibrate to indicate that a button has been “pushed.”

Why capacitive buttons in iPhone 16?

Those questioning the need for such a change should consider that any moving part wears out. And even the best-designed ones are inherently more fragile than a solid piece of the same general shape.

iPhones famously last for years and years, and moving buttons can become worn over extended use. Capacitive buttons in the iPhone 16 would help make the product’s useful life even longer.

Plus, the openings around the current buttons are a potential way for water to enter the handset’s interior if the device is accidentally submerged.

Perhaps iPhone 16 Pro only

Monday’s report by Economic Daily says the new type of button is coming to the iPhone 16 without being more specific. But it’s possible the change will come only to the Pro and Pro Max versions of the handsets.

Apple makes a habit of introducing new technology in its two premier models before extending it to the two more affordable versions. That was true for the Dynamic Island and the Action Button. And the end of traditional buttons might be the next example.

Or only one button

It was previously rumored that the iPhone 16 would include a completely new capacitive Capture Button. On Monday, tipster Sonny Dickson posted on X (formerly Twitter) an image of iPhone cases that include this feature:

However, the power button shown in the pic is a traditional one, not capacitive. If the image is real, it means the Economic Daily report is only partially correct. But conflicting leaks aren’t unusual with the next iOS models still about five months away.

We’ll know for sure this autumn when the entire iPhone 16 series is expected to be unveiled to the world.


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