Images surface of a prototype iPhone 15 Pro Max before Apple scrapped a major change

Images surface of a prototype iPhone 15 Pro Max before Apple scrapped a major change
While this was one of the rare times that TF International's Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was wr-wr-wr-wrong (read in Arthur Fonzarelli's voice), only one month after the iPhone 14 line was released, Kuo said to expect a lack of mechanical buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models. Instead of pressing a physical button and eventually wearing down the mechanical parts, Kuo said that Apple would equip the 2023 Pro series with haptic buttons that would react to touch and respond with haptic feedback.

Apple is reportedly planning to use capacitive buttons for the upcoming iPhone 16 series

Kuo was almost right as Apple built prototypes with the new buttons, but technical issues forced the company to ditch the idea and return to physical buttons. Apple is reportedly considering the solid-state buttons for the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max models. Back in January, Apple supposedly tested four button configurations including a unified volume button with a small Action Button, a unified volume button with a large Action Button and a Capture Button, and separate volume buttons with a large Action Button and a Capture Button flush with the frame.

Thanks to a collector of Apple prototype devices, AppleInsider was able to obtain images of an iPhone 15 Pro Max prototype that includes the solid-state power and volume buttons. The design with the new haptic buttons was known inside Apple as Project Bongo. The device that was the subject of the photos was an EVT prototype which is a running prototype tested to verify that the design meets certain specs and design targets.

Later prototype versions of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max swapped out the haptic buttons for the mechanical kind. The Action button, which runs a pre-selected task with the push of the button, always was mechanical and the only change made was to make it rounder and wider.

The haptic buttons that were being tested for the iPhone 15 Pro series were designed for the user to feel feedback and hear a clicking sound when the button was pressed. Because the haptic feedback was also felt when the button was released, the user felt as though he was using a mechanical button. As long as the phone had enough juice to display the charging indicator, the user could still feel the feedback from the button.

You might ask why would Apple design a haptic button that felt like the mechanical button that it was to replace. The answer is that mechanical buttons get worn out from repeated use. Apple did use a solid-state home button on the iPhone 7 although this button did not move like the haptic buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro Max prototype.

Will the new Capture button be capacitive or mechanical?

The haptic buttons worked by using gauges to detect pressure which caused the resistance in an electrical circuit to change. Changes in the resistance were measured to determine which part of the unified volume button was pressed so that the device could respond to a request from the user to raise the volume or lower it. When the button was pressed a signal would travel to the main logic board.

The Capture button being added to all four new iPhone 16 models this year, which has the capabilities of a shutter button and more (users will allegedly be allowed to swipe on the button to zoom in or zoom out) is rumored to be capacitive and will be found under the power button. According to Economic Daily as recently as May, Apple placed a large order with Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) for capacitive buttons that will be used to replace the mechanical buttons on the upcoming iPhone 16 series. 

I don't know how you feel about using haptic buttons and for many, it probably won't make any difference. Most iPhone users probably trade in their old devices before the buttons become unusable. We will surely find out what Apple's intentions are in September when the iPhone 16 series is unveiled. Believe it or not, that is only two months away.

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