There were rumors that the power and volume buttons on the iPhone 15 would be touch-sensitive, but a well-known analyst called that into question.
What the heck is going on with the external buttons on the iPhone 15? Even though there were many leaks and reports that the premium iPhone 15s would get rid of physical buttons and get new touch-based controls like a trackpad, the Cupertino company may have made a last-minute change that threw all of that out the window, angering some of its major suppliers in the process.
Longtime industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote on Tuesday night that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max wouldn’t have “solid-state” buttons “due to unresolved technical issues.” Solid-state buttons are the long-rumored flatter touch-sensitive design that’s supposed to be more waterproof.
Even though his report didn’t have many details, he did say that some investors were hoping that the new button style would help Apple suppliers like Cirrus Logic and AAC Technologies make more money.
Based on what we thought we knew about the iPhone 15, the next version of Apple’s smartphones was almost certain to have “haptic” feedback buttons instead of the usual mechanical ones. These buttons work almost like tiny trackpads.
Even though Kuo’s latest analysis was short, it caused Apple suppliers on the U.S. stock exchange a lot of worry on Wednesday. By early afternoon ET, Cirrus’s stock had dropped by 12%, according to CNBC. Around the same time, the AAC, which is based in China, also dropped by about 15%.
Just last month, a video made the rounds on the Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin. It showed a metal mockup of the iPhone 15 Pro, which seemed to have thin volume and mute buttons, indicating that the phone would have touch-sensitive controls.
Apple usually gives companies that make iPhone cases the dimensions of the device early, so the dummy model could be real. If Kuo’s most recent predictions are right, this would mean that plans have changed very quickly.
CNBC said that Apple is Cirrus’s biggest customer and that Apple was responsible for about 88% of the company’s revenue in the most recent quarter. In a letter to shareholders from February of this year, the company said, “Our relationship with our largest customer remains excellent, with strong design activity continuing across a wide range of products.”
But even if Kuo is right, the hit to the stock of Apple suppliers puts too much weight on what is, in the end, just a small change in how some iPhone users would control their phones.
It was thought that these more recessed buttons would make the phone last longer, but no one outside of Apple has been able to test this.
Maybe we’d all be as surprised as we were when Apple put a trackpad on the first iPod, but maybe not, especially since the feature would only work with controls on the outside.
Apple could be taking back its touch-based external controls for more than one reason. The people who made the case would have had to figure out a way for people to use the solid state buttons.
Some makers might have had to make holes in their cases so that users could reach the thin taptic-based buttons, which could have weakened the cases. There are also problems with access for people who can’t see.