iPhone 15 Pro’s alleged solid state buttons could offer a whole lot more functionality — here’s how

iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Ice Universe / Twitter)

We’ve heard a bunch of rumors claiming the iPhone 15 Pro will have a solid state design, swapping traditional mechanical buttons for a capacitive alternative in the process. Now a new report claims to divulge some extra details about this switch — and what will happen to the ringer switch in the process.

An anonymous user posted an extensive breakdown of the rumored changes on the MacRumors forum (opens in new tab). Leaker ShrimpApplePro noted they are the same person that divulged early details about the Dynamic Island before the launch of the iPhone 14 — suggesting there may be some weight to their claims.

The main point to note is you may be able to trigger the capacitive buttons when an iPhone 15 is switched off. That’s reportedly thanks to a new micro-processor that replaces the existing “Super Low Energy Mode” in the iPhone’s chipset. 

That mode is what lets you use Apple Pay or the Bluetooth Find My tracking when the iPhone has died or is switched off. The user claims that Apple is testing the micro-processor's ability to do all this and detect various capacitive button presses when the phone is switched off.  The buttons themselves are expected to come with the ability to sense presses, holds and a version of Apple’s 3D Touch.

It’s unclear how much of this will actually make it to production models, but the micro-processor is reportedly making the cut. What it can handle will apparently depend on whether the testing can pass Apple’s notoriously high standards.

Solid state buttons can offer a lot more functionality

iPhone 15 Pro renders by Technizo

(Image credit: Technizo)

The user’s sources claim the new button technology comes with a bunch of potential possibilities. One of those involves the former mute switch, which is also being replaced with a capacitive button. A button that the user claims will be remappable, potentially letting you do more with it.

Hopefully one of those features will still let you mute your phone with the push of a button. The iPhone is the only recent smartphone to still come with a physical mute toggle, and it would be a shame to see such a useful feature be killed off for good. However, the choice to do more with the button is always a good thing — especially if the iPhone 15 Pro can register different pressures and button button-pressing combinations.

Other details noted include the speed of volume change depending on the force registered by the button, and the ability to control volume by sliding up or down the new volume sensor. The fact that the micro-processor may still be active when the phone is powered down suggests that users may still be able to press the volume and power buttons to perform a hard reset on a misbehaving phone. But we will have to wait for the release model to see what’s going on there.

While we can’t take this information for granted (especially if these features are still in active testing) it is interesting to hear what could be on the way. Particularly how Apple could be leveraging a design change to its advantage.

That’s on top of other potential benefits, including better seals against water and dust intrusion, and fewer mechanical mechanisms that can wear out over extended periods of time.

The iPhone 15 series is expected to arrive later this year, and we’ll bring you all the biggest news as and when we hear it.

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Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.