One of the biggest changes arriving with the iPhone 15 handsets could be the physical button setup – and new leaks suggest that Apple is going to switch to a unified volume button and a new type of mute button, at least on the Pro models.
This comes from both ZoneOfTech (opens in new tab) (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)) and 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), so it seems to be a rumor with some momentum behind it. The idea is also backed up by the unofficial renders we've seen appearing over the past few weeks.
Before these latest revelations, we had heard numerous reports that certain iPhone 15 models would do away with physical buttons in favor of solid-state ones that use haptic feedback to register a press rather than an actual mechanism. It does now seem more likely that this will be the case.
Almost 100% sure that the iPhone 15 Pro will LONG Unified Volume button, rather than 2 separate ones.While making our iPhone 15 Pro Concept, we’ve found that Apple uses 2 pins on each of the 2 volume buttons. The iPhone 15 Pro CAD only shows 2 pins on a longer volume button. pic.twitter.com/KzkpS9fYBBMarch 2, 2023
On the current iPhone 14, there are two separate volume buttons – one for up and one for down – on the left-hand side as you look at the screen. Just above them is a slider switch that mutes and unmutes the device depending on the position its in.
According to these new rumors, as well as switching to solid-state, the volume buttons will become one single button. In addition, the mute button will also switch to solid-state and require a press to switch between modes, rather than a slide.
If Apple sticks to its usual schedule, then we'll see these new phones – including the iPhone 15 Ultra, possibly – at some point during September 2023. Expect plenty more leaks and rumors between now and then.
Analysis: the Pro models leading the way again
There's a running theme in the iPhone 15 rumors that we've seen so far, including this one: it appears to be the Pro models that are getting the most attention from Apple, which indeed follows on from what we saw from the iPhone 14 series.
A lot of the changes supposedly coming to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max – including solid-state buttons, a special edition color, support for the latest Wi-Fi standards, and a Thunderbolt data connection – may not make it to the standard iPhone 15.
In fact, the word is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be so souped up, that it's going to have a new name: the iPhone 15 Ultra. It appears that Apple wants to create another sub-tier within the existing two-tier iPhone range.
It's a strategy that would seem to be working for Apple, pushing people towards the pricier handsets where the most money can be made. However, it does leave us wondering what exactly the point of the cheaper iPhones are at this stage.