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iPhone 16 button expansion: what the rumor mill thinks is coming

A render of the iPhone 16 Pro showing the rumored Capture button on the side

Apple added the Action button to the iPhone 15 Pro, but more could be on the way for the iPhone 16. This is what the rumor mill believes is on the way.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max made a big change to its selection of buttons in 2023. After years of use, the mute toggle was removed in favor of a new Action button.

That action button that could be used to perform various functions on an iPhone, not just muting the ringer. While the iPhone 15 kept the toggle, it may not be that way for long.

For the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max, Apple may take things one step further, by adding another button to the mix.

This is what the rumor mill believes Apple has planned for the iPhone 16 family in the fall. At least, when it comes to buttons.

iPhone 16 to gain the Action button

Apple often introduces features in the Pro models of iPhone, which eventually trickle down to the standard editions. This could be exactly the case for the iPhone 16.

The Action button configuration menu for the iPhone 15 Pro
The Action button configuration menu for the iPhone 15 Pro

In December, a report claimed the Action button could spread throughout the entire iPhone 16 lineup. This would mean the iPhone 16 would join the iPhone 16 Pro in losing the mute toggle in favor of the button.

This rumor does make sense, given Apple's tendency to trickle down features across devices.

iPhone 16 Pro could get a Capture button

The Action button can be used as a shutter for the camera in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but it's not quite the same as the shutter button on a proper camera.

A traditional shutter button allows for a half-press to trigger autofocus, with a full press capturing the image. This is not possible with the Action button.

A CAD render for the iPhone 16 Pro showing the Capture button
A CAD render for the iPhone 16 Pro showing the Capture button

Rumors have circulated since September 2023 and repeatedly resurfaced, with various leakers proposing the button is on the way. Unlike the Action button, the Capture button will act more like a traditional shutter button.

The new button would give users the same physical control for photography on an iPhone as a digital camera, making it much easier for users to quickly start using.

There have been claims that the Capture button could be pressure-sensitive, which would lend itself to half-press functionality. It's also been proposed that the button could have touch sensitivity, with users able to change zoom level by touching it.

A mechanical switch system has also been offered by rumors. However, Apple going down that route will make things harder for case producers.

In January, The Information cited two people familiar with iPhone 16 development in confirming the Capture button is mechanical and with touch sensitivity.

iPhone 16 Capacitive buttons

Rumors for the iPhone 15 Pro promoted the idea that Apple could use capacitive buttons instead of pressable versions. The claims included using a single long capacitive button instead of two buttons for volume controls, beyond Action or Capture button changes.

The Capture button may be mechanical, but capacitive elements could add more functions.
The Capture button may be mechanical, but capacitive elements could add more functions.

In September, the rumors continued, with the use of a capacitive Capture button as well as an updated capacitive Action button. The buttons could include pressure sensors, so that buttons are counted as pressed when enough force is applied to avoid accidental presses.

However, that report insisted the volume buttons would remain mechanical buttons rather than capacitive. The sleep/wake button would also be mechanical and not capacitive.

iPhone 16 CAD and case claims

As Apple's introduction of a new iPhone generation nears, images start to surface that hint at what the iPhones could look like. This trend has certainly continued with the iPhone 16, and it has shown off what vendors think about button changes.

For example, in April, Sonny Dickson shared dummy units for the iPhone 16 range. Key to these metal models were the addition of a button on the right-hand side, further down than the current sleep/wake button.

These metal models seemingly followed a similar button placement as others introduced in March.

Assorted prop models and cases showing the Capture button placement
Assorted prop models and cases showing the Capture button placement

With the button lower down on the right-hand side, the Capture button would be placed ideally to mimic using the iPhone as a camera. A typical camera has the shutter button in the top-right corner when held in a landscape orientation, with the camera lenses tending to be towards the top left of the rear.

The same month, supposed cases for the iPhone 16 Pro appeared on X. The images showed a hollowed-out section on the side, where the Capture button would be located.

The gap in the case seemingly means the vendor believes the Capture button will be mechanical in nature.

CAD leaks in March also supported the placements of the buttons on the physical models.

While there's no guarantee that the physical models and case leaks are completely correct, it does seem that Apple will have some button-related changes arriving later in 2024.