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All iPhone 16 models could get improved Action button

iPhone 15 Pro Action Button

June Wan/ZDNET

The Action button could be coming to the entire iPhone 16 line, and could itself get a technical upgrade.

If you’re an Apple Watch Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max user, you’re familiar with the Action button. On the Apple Watch Ultra, it was a new button that could be configured to do things like turn on the flashlight, and it came to the iPhone Pro and Pro Max as a replacement for the mute switch.

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According to a report by MacRumors, this button is not only getting an upgrade, but could become a feature on all iPhone 16 handsets.

Rolling this out to all iPhone 16 models — versus keeping it a premium feature on the Pro and Pro Max handsets — makes sense in terms of simplifying assembly and support. It means fewer components for Apple to source, assemble, and repair.

The mute switch has had its day, and if Apple can phase out that one component, it represents money saved on components and assembly. And if Apple can also make the button more reliable, that brings with it even more benefits — which is precisely what the report says will happen.

According to the report, “Apple plans to add even more functionality to the Action button by changing the button from mechanical to a capacitive-type button.”  

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A capacitive-type button is like a touchscreen but without the screen bit. A touch-sensitive button is likely to be more robust than a mechanical switch or button, and more resistant to the ingress of dirt and moisture. I also will enable Apple to program the button to do more than a mechanical button could accomplish.

For example, a capacitive-type button of this nature could double as a volume control, much like the one built into the AirPods — which can respond to touch, movement and pressure — thereby eliminating the need for the up and down volume buttons, further simplifying assembly, and eliminating yet more physical buttons.

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