In a letter to shareholders, a familiar Apple supplier said it would begin supplying a new component to the smartphone industry next year. According to business analysts, this could well mean that the physical buttons on next year's iPhone will be swapped for haptic ones.
But first, let us go back to September 2016. That's when Apple announced the iPhone 7. Like its predecessor, this one had a home button containing a fingerprint scanner called Touch ID. What was new about this was that the home button was not a button. It looked like one and clicked like a button, but it was not a button. Thanks to a sensor, the iPhone 7 recognized that you pressed it. The Taptic Engine then simulated the feel of a pressed button.
It sounds a bit cumbersome, but fewer moving parts means less wear and tear. Plus, this helps make it more waterproof. The home button is now gone, but the iPhone still has buttons. For example, to control the volume and to turn it on and off. Perhaps those await the same fate as the home button of the iPhone 7.
At least that would appear reading this letter from Cirrus Logic to shareholders. It expects to deliver a new HPMS component for a smartphone by 2023. HPMS stands for High-Performance Mixed-Signal, a technique used for haptic feedback. Apple uses this in its Taptic Engine.
Several Barclays analysts suggest that Apple may use these components in the upcoming iPhone 15 series. There have long been rumors that Apple would like to avoid using physical buttons. Earlier, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple would use solid-state buttons instead. But only for the iPhone 15 Pro models, the standard iPhone 15 will get "normal" volume buttons.