Apple's iPhone has had a ring/silent switch since day one. That's 16 years of the most useless and mostly ignored feature in mobile technology, and I'm ready to see it go.
When Apple unveils its iPhone 15 line on September 12 at its huge Apple event (unless we are all catastrophically wrong and Cupertino instead unveils a new line of iBreakfast cereal), Apple will introduce a lineup of smartphones (iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, iPhone 15 Ultra) that no longer have that archaic, physical slider. It will reportedly be replaced by the Action button.
This new button will live up to its name and let you launch any number of actions that may be defined by how often, how hard, or how long you press the button. That sounds, at least, useful and certainly a better option than the ring/silent slider.
Perhaps it's just me but I use that toggle switch, which resides on the left side of your iPhone 14 right above the dual volume buttons, so infrequently that I forget it exists. Sometimes, my thumb brushes over it and then I stare at it in wonder and think, "Why?" and "What does this do again?" It does, obviously, do something.
First, it's probably the quickest way to silence rings. A switch to one side, revealing the slider's thin orange band, puts your phone in silent mode. However, if, as I do, you live in silent mode, then you have it set that way all the time and never use the switch. If you've looked at my phone at any time over the last decade or so, you may have noticed my iPhone's tiny orange accent.
I am simply not one of those people who proudly and auditorially plays their treasured ringtone at full blast on the train, in restaurants, and while I'm walking in the street. I wonder how dead some people's nerves must be that they can not feel a phone vibrating on their leg or even in their bag and therefore must have the clarion call of their phone's Welcome to the Jungle ring tune.
The ring/silent switch also mutes notification pings and dings. If you aren't already doing this all the time, you're a monster. Okay, I kid. But seriously, if you have a lot of incoming iMessage texts and Slack notifications, and you allow your phone to "ding, ding, ding, ding" away incessantly then you are at least not the most considerate person. If you're alone and you need all that noise, fine but in public spaces, why?
Even if Apple doesn't remove the ring/silent switch from iPhone 15 or all models, it will eventually disappear. Apple is reportedly moving toward a physical button-free iPhone, one with no moving parts (eventually, no charge port, either). This finely crafted meta switch will have no place on that metal and glass slab.
Losing the ring/silent switch will be like losing nothing, at least for me. That dusty old switch gets very, very little use and I can only wonder why it's taken Apple so long to replace it. It's not like the Touch ID Home Button. Its removal with the iPhone X and replacement with Face ID on virtually all iPhones caused a bit of an uproar; people used that button every day and all day.
I think there may be some similar concerns about the anticipated swap of the Lightning port for a USB-C power port on iPhone 15. However, I think people are more ready for that than they were for the loss of their beloved home button.
As for the ring/silent switch, there may be some sad faces, those who will miss a piece of iPhone history. But if we're all being honest with ourselves, this is an obsolete piece of hardware whose time has come and gone.
I say goodbye switch and hello, Action.
More iPhone 15 stories
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A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.
Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.