Apple Supplier Hints at Solid-State Power and Volume Buttons for iPhone 15 Pro

Cirrus Logic, one of Apple’s suppliers, may have just confirmed solid-state Power and Volume buttons with haptic feedback for next-year iPhone 15 Pro models — reports MacRumors.

The Texas-based semiconductor manufacturer told shareholders earlier this month that it continues to “engage with a strategic customer” and hopes to bring “a new HPMS component to market in smartphones next year.” Cirrus supplies Apple with HPMS (or high-performance mixed-signal) chips, which include haptic drivers for the Taptic Engines in its iPhones.

Speaking on an earnings call this month, Cirrus Logic CEO John Forsyth narrowed down the timeline for this new component to the “back half of next year.” That lines up quite nicely with the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro series’ expected launch in September 2023.

The tip follows an October report from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicating that next year’s two high-end iPhone models may adopt “a solid state button design.” Solid-state buttons would be a major departure from the current mechanical buttons found on iPhones and virtually every smartphone.

That said, it’s not an entirely foreign concept for Apple. The tech giant ditched a mechanical Home and Touch ID button for a force-sensitive solid-state alternative with haptic feedback from the Taptic Engine for both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 lineups.

“To be clear, the company hasn’t said much here other than that the chip is mixed signal and not in the power domain,” Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O’Malley cautioned in an investor note last week.

However, Kuo’s original report from October said that iPhone 15 Pro models will feature two additional Taptic Engines to provide haptic feedback to the new solid-state buttons. If Apple is adding more Taptic Engines to its iPhones, the company will likely need better HPMS chips.

“When looking at potential use cases, the largest change in new iPhone models next year is the removal of the buttons, which would require additional drivers for the haptics engine, making it the most likely use case for new content,” the analysts added.

If Apple does make the switch to solid-state buttons, they will likely be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro lineup. The base iPhone 15 models will still have traditional, mechanical buttons (although they have been tipped for an upgrade to the Dynamic Island from this year’s Pro series).

The higher-end iPhone 15 Pro models are also rumoured to be getting a new periscope camera, Apple’s next-generation A17 Bionic chip, and a titanium chassis with curved edges on the rear. One major change expected across the iPhone 15 lineup, though, is USB-C instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.