Apple supplier Cirrus Logic is a semiconductor designer and in the company’s letter to shareholders disseminated earlier this month, the firm hinted at one change that we could see with the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra models. The change of which we speak would see Apple replace the physical power and volume buttons with solid-state buttons. Users would still feel as though they pressed a physical button thanks to haptics powered by three iPhone Taptic Engines.
So what did Cirrus Logic write in its message to stockholders that has everyone so riled up? The firm said that it continues to “engage with a strategic customer” and expects to “bring a new HPMS (high-performance mixed-signal chip) component to market in smartphones next year.” Among the HPMS that the firm designs are haptic drivers for the iPhone’s Taptic Engine, according to MacRumors. Apple supplier Cirrus Logic might have accidentally leaked big news about the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra models Sure, this might not be a case of “we caught you red-handed” discussing your company’s contribution to Apple’s new solid-state buttons for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra, but it certainly sounds like it could fit. And if that isn’t enough of a clue, Cirrus Logic CEO John Forsyth said during an earnings call this month that the new component will hit the market during the “back half of next year.” That time frame would include the typical September release for the 2023 premium iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra models.
Backing up this theory are two analysts from the U.K. banking firm Barclays, Blayne Curtis and Tom O’Malley. The pair said that the new component that Cirrus Logic wrote about in the letter to shareholders will most likely be part of the additional Taptic Engines needed to drive the haptics for the solid-state buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra models next year.
The Barclays analysts wrote, “The biggest change to our thinking here is to model $1 of new content in the IP15 Pro (and Ultra) models. To be clear, the company hasn’t said much here other than that the chip is mixed signal and not in the power domain. 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.”
Last month, TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the pricier iPhone 15 Pro (and Ultra) models will sport solid-state power and volume buttons. And yes, it also would require the new HPMS component from Cirrus Logic to drive the additional Taptic Engines.
Top analyst Kuo also expects solid-state power and volume buttons on the pricier iPhone units next year in his tweet, Kuo said, “My latest survey indicates that the volume button and power button of two high-end iPhone 15/2H23 new iPhone models may adopt a solid-state button design (similar to the home button design of iPhone 7/8/SE2 & 3) to replace the physical/mechanical button design.”
So it certainly would seem to appear that we should expect the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro models next year to be without physical buttons that can wear down over time. They might be more sensitive to touch making it easier to adjust the volume on the handsets. It also would be used as another way to differentiate the non-Pro iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models from the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra.
Apple has been trying to get more iPhone buyers to spend the extra money on the premium models by adding certain features and hardware (like the ProMotion 120Hz display, the 48MP primary camera, and more). However, we do expect that all four iPhone 15 units next year will feature Dynamic Island. This year, the shape-shifting “notification” feature is found only on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.