iPhone 15 Pro and the new Action Button: the natural evolution of the iconic Mute Switch

iPhone 15 Pro and the new Action Button
Even though the iPhone 15 series' overall design has not visibly changed too much, there are some alterations like the Action Button, which can affect how iPhone owners interact with the phone in the future.

As usual, anything new that Apple introduces to its phone lineup first makes its way exclusively to the Pro models so, lo and behold, the Action Button is only available on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, at least for this year.

But there is a sacrifice being made here (well, at least a sacrifice for some) and that is the Mute Switch which has existed on iPhones since, believe it or not, Steve Jobs announced the OG iPhone all the way back in 2007.

So, let us see how Apple justifies this historic design change and how the new Action Button enriches the user experience on iPhone.

The iPhone 15 Pro Action Button explained

Action Button design

Remember the Apple Watch Ultra? Well, it was the first Apple device to get an Action Button. The button on the Apple Watch Ultra is programmable, meaning you can set it up to activate a specific feature supported by the watch or one of the applications you have installed on it.

However, somewhat disappointingly, unlike with the Watch Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max's Action Button does not come in a contrasting color — it is made out of the same material and has the same hue as the rest of the phone's titanium frame.

One thing we want to note here is that the placement of the Action Button can be uncomfortable for some people, especially on the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max. Most of us here at PhoneArena have to awkwardly adjust the phone in our hand to reach the button, or press it with our other hand. Hopefully Apple goes with a different placement with the iPhone 16 next year.

How it works

The Action Button on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max behaves in a very similar manner to that of the Apple Watch Ultra. One thing to keep in mind is that you do have to press and hold onto the button to activate whatever function you have assigned to it. It will work no matter what you are doing on the phone, even if the screen is locked.

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It is an easy mistake to simply quickly press it once and think you've done something (as we did despite knowing about the long press). Thankfully, Apple has foreseen this misunderstanding and added a prompt on the display right next to where the Action button is situated, telling you that you need to "Hold for [insert assigned action]."

What it can do

Of course, you are able to use the Action Button as a way to silence your iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max, just like with the Mute Switch. In fact, that is the default function when you first set up the phone. However, now that it is a button and not a switch, it can also be programmed as a shortcut to another function instead.

Here are all of the other Action Button options Apple gives you:

  • Focus — you can choose any of the Focus modes you have set up on your iPhone to have the Action Button turn on.
  • Camera — the Action button can be set up to open the camera, and you can even choose to have it directly open in for a photo, video, or in Portrait mode. There are also the options to have it default to the selfie camera, or Portrait selfie.

*Tip: If you set it up to shoot video with the camera, you can press and hold on the Action Button once the camera app opens, which will start recording until you let go. Although, we don't think that is a very usable as it is not comfortable unless you tilt the phone to the right and hold it horizontally.

  • Flashlight — you toggle the flashlight on and off, with the Dynamic Island doing a little animation to let you know in what state it currently is.
  • Voice Memo — start recording a Voice Memo immediately. This one also has an animation playing within the Dynamic Island. Press and hold again to end the recording.
  • Translate — you can set up the Action Button to immediately start translating whatever language you have picked in the Translate app. Those include French, German, Chinese, English, Dutch, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
  • Magnifier — open the Magnifier application from anywhere on the iPhone.
  • Shortcuts — assign any iPhone shortcut you have set up.
  • Accessibility — quickly access any of the accessibility features on the iPhone (you can choose only one).
  • No Action — if you want to turn off the Action Button to maybe avoid accidental use in a specific environment or situation, you can do that too by just assigning no action to it.

How to change Action Button function

To customise the function of the iPhone's Action Button you need to go into the Settings app, scroll down the menu until you see Action Button and tap it (it is situated right bellow the Control Center tab). All that's left after that is to go through the different options and choose one.


The Mute Switch is a great feature, and its clicking sound as you move it up and down to silence/turn your iPhone to ring is likely embedded in every iPhone owner's psyche. But the Action Button offers so much potential in the form of versatility that it is hard not to like this change.

In more than one way, the Action Button feels like the logical evolution of the Mute Switch. It can be especially powerful if you are well-versed into using the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, allowing for very powerful combinations. That being said, we are hoping that Apple will make the Action Button even better with time, like enabling it to synergise with the app you have opened, behaving differently depending on what app you have opened.

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