Apple supplier Cirrus Logic, a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in analog, mixed-signal, and audio DSP integrated circuits, may have leaked some pretty big news about the upcoming iPhone 15. The company hinted in a letter to shareholders that Apple would 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.
The letter said that the firm continues to “engage with a strategic customer”. Moreover, it expects to “bring a new HPMS (high-performance mixed-signal chip) component to market in smartphones next year”. Even though the letter itself is far from concrete evidence, it allows us to make connections with other clues. For instance, 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 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 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 domainWhen 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.”
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. Only time will tell.