The iPhone 16 design might not push the right buttons

The will they / won't they iPhone 16 design saga continues with more reports of production problems

iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple isn't a big fan of mechanical buttons, and it's been trying to remove the ones on the side of the iPhone for some time now. The iPhone 15 Pro was reported to be switching from mechanical to solid state buttons by multiple sources starting in October 2022 and repeated earlier this year, but that rumour was then squashed in April with news that the iPhone 15 wouldn't be going solid-state after all. The button banishment, we were told, would now happen in the iPhone 16 instead.

So much for that plan. According to a new research note from investment firm Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu (via MacRumors), the buttons aren’t going to make it into the iPhone 16 either.

What's the problem?

Why Apple can't yet banish the buttons

The planned move to solid-state volume controls on the iPhone 15 Pro was cancelled because of production problems. According to well-placed insider Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple encountered technical issues it simply couldn’t solve in time for production. 

At the time, Haitong’s analysts predicted that the buttons would appear in the iPhone 16 instead, but they have now revised that prediction and no longer believe that we’ll see a move to solid-state switches in 2024 either.

The reason for the move is that solid-state buttons are more durable, because they have no moving parts. And they’re also better for waterproofing phones, because the casing doesn’t need to leave space for them to move around in. 

For iPhone owners, you’re unlikely to notice any difference. That’s because Apple’s got very good at Taptic feedback, which is the vibration you feel when you get a notification or, if you’ve enabled it, when you type on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard. The solid-state buttons would use the same haptic tech to provide physical feedback when you press the top or bottom of the volume control.

Jeff Pu has more bad news to share: he expects the iPhone 15 Pro Max to get a price hike. Pu has previously predicted price increases for both Pro models this year, but this time he’s specifically talking about the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That’s expected to have the long-awaited periscope lens, which adds complexity and therefore cost. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (