If you love clicky physical buttons on your devices, we may have bad news for you: according to respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 15 is binning the buttons. That doesn't mean it's going to become a smooth-sided fondleslab, though: according to Kuo, Apple is going for solid-state buttons instead.
Posting on Twitter (opens in new tab), Kuo says that "the volume button and power button of two high-end iPhone 15/2H23 new iPhone models may adopt a solid-state button design (similar to the home button design of iPhone 7/8/SE2 & 3) to replace the physical/mechanical button design." By high-end models, Kuo most likely means the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra, so Apple seems to be sticking with its policy of reserving big new hardware changes for the most expensive models first.
While the buttons themselves won't move, there will be Taptic Engines underneath them so they vibrate when touched. Apple's haptic tech is really good now – I've got haptic feedback turned on in my iPhone 14, and it really does feel like physically pressing buttons – so this should feel very similar.
Big changes in the iPhone 15
Adding these solid-state buttons means some changes to the innards of the iPhone 15 models that'll be getting them: the iPhone currently has one Taptic Engine in it, but the new buttons will take that up to three. Kuo expects Android firms to take a similar approach with their own flagships.
Kuo also adds to the chorus predicting USB-C for the iPhone 15; Apple says it's happening although it won't confirm the time or the iPhone, but the consensus is that USB-C is happening on at least the Pro and Ultra models next year.
We're a long way from the next iPhone – unless Apple suddenly makes dramatic changes to its calendar, we'd expect the iPhone 15 launch date to be September 2023 – but these predictions seem sensible and solid; we'd also expect the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra to get a new generation of Apple A-series processor, a camera upgrade and maybe more RAM too, with the current iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max features moving down from the Pros to the more affordable models.