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iPhone 16 might abandon mechanical buttons but don't bet your bottom dollar on it

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

For years, capacitive buttons were present in smartphones after pushing the physical buttons away from the front panels, long before they were themselves essentially eradicated by edge-to-edge screens, even in lower-tier phones.

Now, it seems the buttons on the sides of the smartphones are next. For a long time, the iPhone 15 was rumored to completely ditch mechanical buttons and go full-capacitive instead. However, this was not the case in the end, allegedly due to “unresolved technical issues.”

That doesn’t mean that Apple completely gave up on the idea, though. A new supply chain report from the Chinese publication Economic Daily News claims, as spotted by AppleInsider, that the switch might happen as soon as this year with the expected arrival of the iPhone 16 family of smartphones.

Economic Daily News reported that Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) secured a huge contract to supply Apple with a system-in-a-package (SIP) module for capacitive side buttons. This capacitive solution—one module per side—would be supported by two separate Taptic Engine motors to provide haptic feedback.

The upcoming iPhone 16 was rumored to abandon physical buttons shortly after the launch of the current iPhone 15 family, although we haven’t heard about the plans any further this year.

ASE is expecting hundreds of millions of shipments due to anticipated demand for the new generation of iPhones. However, that’s where the report starts to get less trustworthy. These shipments should reportedly ramp up in volumes in the third quarter of 2024, which sounds quite late for the integration and on-time shipments of the iPhone 16.

As AppleInsider pointed out, Economic Daily News is a reliable source of information about Chinese suppliers. However, their predictions for U.S. customer companies are less accurate. Therefore, it is entirely possible that all the iPhone 16’s buttons—including the rumored Capture Button—will stay mechanical.

That being said, the chances of future iPhones actually ditching mechanical buttons are now much higher.

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