Apple’s iPhone 15 rumor mill has been intensifying of late, and if the rumors are true, this would be the biggest revision for the iPhone yet. Lots of reports have been doing the rounds about the state of the buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, specifically that they are rumored to have a unique volume rocker and the mute switch will be replaced by a button, all solid. . -state too.
However, the latest rumor to emerge is that the iPhone 15 Pro’s mute switch may not be replaced with a mute button. Instead, it could actually be a multi-use action button, similar to the one on the Apple Watch Ultra. If this is the case, then it will be one of the biggest changes to the iPhone’s hardware design, with many advantages… but also one major disadvantage.
An action button would benefit everyone
In fact, I love the idea of the iPhone 15 Pro having a multi-use action button. To be honest, one of the first things I do when I buy a new phone is to silence it. Alerts and notification sounds are annoying and distracting, so I prefer not to listen to them. Sometimes I leave the ringtone for emergency calls, but I also have an Apple Watch, so if an important call comes in, I usually feel the vibration on my wrist or in my pocket if my phone is there.
Once I flipped that mute switch on my iPhone 14 Pro, it practically stayed that way. I turn it off in a movie theater, just to make sure my phone doesn’t make any sound during a movie, and then turn it back on when it’s over, but otherwise it remains unchanged.
When the Apple Watch Ultra was introduced, although it took me a while to get used to the new design, I loved the idea of the customizable action button. By default, it was set to trigger workouts, but users could customize it to do other things, including triggering scheduled shortcuts from the Shortcuts app.
If the iPhone 15 Pro has an action button, I would use it a lot more than a mute switch or button. I guess the default action might be to “silence” the phone, but there are many more interesting use cases. For example, it could be used to turn on Do Not Disturb, launch the camera app, turn the flashlight on and off, lock screen rotation, take a screenshot, toggle light/dark mode, and more.
Of all those things, can we take a minute to appreciate the desirability of a potential camera shortcut? I can’t tell you how many times the lock screen camera app shortcut doesn’t work properly, and I miss a precious moment with my daughter. If she could just program a button on the hardware to access the camera app faster, that would be a blessing. But I’d also love to be able to double-press the action button to put the phone to mute or go into low power mode, for example.
While I wasn’t entirely convinced Apple would remove the mute switch and replace it with a button, I think there’s a lot of potential if it’s an action button, rather than just a mute button. I just mentioned what I would use it for, and I think many other people would do something similar. Just being able to customize what an iPhone action button can do opens up a whole world of possibilities, especially if you can link it to a shortcut you’ve created or downloaded.
It’s not always greener on the other side
Of course, as great as an action button is, it won’t be good for everyone. After having a mute switch on the iPhone since the original in 2007, many people have developed a muscle memory with the location of it and can easily mute the iPhone in their pockets. This also eliminates the need to pull out your phone and check the screen to make sure it’s silent, which can be annoying in situations like in a movie theater, during a class, or at a work meeting.
Even if the rumored action button could be used to enable/disable a silent mode, it won’t be as convenient as the existing switch. The mute switch also made the iPhone more accessible to many people, since you could physically tell by the position of the switch whether or not the device was on mute. Removing said switch and replacing it with a button makes it less accessible.
Why couldn’t Apple add a separate action button, if it is indeed going this route, or make the side button programmable for things other than Siri or Voice Control?
We’ll have to wait and see
With Apple recently announcing WWDC 2023 for June 5, the wait for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro is not far behind. Apple usually introduces the next generation of iPhones in September, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what it actually does.
Still, the idea of an action button piques my interest, and I hope Apple still makes it as accessible and convenient as a switch.