For weeks, leaks claimed Apple’s most controversial iPhone 15 Pro upgrade had been scrapped. Now one of the company’s key suppliers has confirmed this in a thinly veiled statement to shareholders that is likely to divide opinions among iPhone fans.
The supplier is Cirrus Logic, and it provides parts for the haptic (vibration) feedback on iPhones. In November, the company revealed an expanded partnership that would bring a new High-Performance Mixed-Signal (HPMS) chip to a key strategic partner. The rumor mill exploded, and multiple leaks over subsequent months revealed plans for the replacement of the physical volume rocker with solid-state buttons on iPhone 15 Pro models — buttons the HMPS chip would enable.
Well, not anymore. In a new shareholder statement this week, Cirrus Logic wrote:
That said, among the HPMS opportunities we have discussed, a new product that we mentioned in previous shareholder letters as being scheduled for introduction this fall is no longer expected to come to market as planned. As we have limited visibility into our customer’s future plans for this product at this time, we are removing the revenue associated with this component from our internal model. While this is undeniably a setback, we are proud of our execution in this program. Our customer relationship remains very strong as we continue to collaborate on a range of technologies and products in the HPMS space.
In describing a strategic partner with a “new product” scheduled for the fall, Cirrus is all but naming Apple. It makes further hints when highlighting the “limited visibility into our customer’s future plans for this product,” given Apple’s famous secrecy around the iPhone.
Cirrus has likely been so transparent with its statement due to the volume of leaks in recent weeks claiming the iPhone 15 Pro’s solid-state buttons had been scrapped. Shareholders would have been nervous, and the statement clarifies the situation.
On the flip side, leaked CADs showed the solid-state buttons to be almost flush with the phone, making them harder to operate through muscle memory, and their need for a dedicated chip to function felt like overengineering to fix a problem no one had.
What is likely to remain, however, is the new Action button — a customizable button that will replace the mute switch on iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models. The Action button was first introduced on the Apple Watch Ultra and well received.
Beyond this, iPhone 15 buyers can expect a new Pro-matching design with a pill-shaped cutout and Dynamic Island as well as USB-C, while the Pro models will get super slim bezels and a next-gen A17 chip, as well as an optical zoom camera that will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Will this be enough to tempt upgraders? I suspect the usual pattern will continue: a lot of online grumbling about incremental improvements followed by massive sales driven by the switch to USB-C.
05/08 Update: a further leak has emerged about Apple’s plans for its solid-state volume buttons, and it appears Apple’s plans merely hit a speed bump rather than a dead end.
In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said the delay in bringing the new buttons to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models had come down to the company “wavering” due to costs and complexity, and they will now debut in the 2024 iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max.
This account differs from other leaks, which claimed Apple was not happy with the implementation due to usability issues. Whether this was down to how they function or the fact many CADs showed them as almost flush with the chassis, making muscle memory difficult, is unknown.
Either way, Gurman’s information paints a simpler picture at a time when iPhone price increase rumors are rife, and there is little pressure or expectation from Apple fans to change the existing physical volume buttons.
Moreover, history suggests that Apple rarely abandons a project completely (even AirPower is deemed not dead by several industry sources), so I would not be surprised to see it return eventually. Let the iPhone 16 leaks begin!
05/09 Update: the first dummy molds of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models have started to leak, and they align with all the major leaks.
AppleInsider obtained molds of the full iPhone 15 line-up, the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The molds are used by case makers so their cases can be ready when the new iPhones launch, meaning they are extremely detailed, with AppleInsider noting that:
The first thing that jumped out to us was the feel of the devices. The new iPhone 15 models all had more rounded edges.
They nestled more easily into your hand and lacked the sharp right angles of the iPhone 14 lineup. They aren’t as beveled as the iPhone X and iPhone 11, but in the middle.
The molds also showed a USB-C port on all models, as expected, and minimal changes to the size of the rear camera bump — something that was expected to get significantly larger for some time.
Another notable element is the shift from individual volume buttons to a single long piece of metal that rocks up or down, though they will still be physical buttons after Apple pulled the plug on its solid-state replacements, at least until next year.
The molds also show the new Action Button, which will be solid-state and replace the iconic mute switch that Apple has used on every iPhone until now. It is expected to be customizable in software, so users will be able to assign different functions. Expect a camera shortcut to be popular.
Interestingly, the super slim bezels on the iPhone 15 Pro make enough of a size difference that it doesn’t fit in a regular iPhone 14 Pro case:
“The new phone is thicker but narrower and shorter. This means that the iPhone 15 Pro fits in an iPhone 14 Pro case, but slides right out because of the smaller dimensions. It isn’t a lot thinner and shorter, less than a millimeter. When holding them both, the new phone feels smaller because of the size and the rounded bezels.
Needless to say, the molds don’t tell us anything about the internals of the new iPhone 15 range, but with leaks now coming thick and fast ahead of their launch in September, I would expect more information to emerge soon.