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Snap happy? Why an iPhone 16 Capture button could be both dream and debacle

Is Apple on the button by adding another button to its iPhone?

For the longest time, rumors claimed Apple was set to ditch all physical buttons from the iPhone, replacing them with capacitive equivalents. Yet last year, the iPhone 15 Pro gained the new Action button. Now, there are whispers that the iPhone 16 will add another button to help you capture photos and videos.

Is this a smart move or a button too far? Let’s break it down…

Action button

Only last year, the iPhone gained a new button. Will we really see another in 2024?

The good: a boon for photographers

Several camera apps, including Apple’s, already let you use the volume up button to take a photo. But rumors suggest the Capture button will offer more advanced features. It might mimic the functionality of DSLRs by allowing you to lock focus with a half press and then capture a photo with a full press. Additionally, the button is speculated to be touch-sensitive, allowing you to swipe to zoom in and out.

For pro photographers, this could be a major improvement. And even a casual user might be nudged toward taking more deliberate and meaningful shots by having such controls quite literally at a fingertip.

The bad: ergonomics and cases

Rumors suggest this button will be positioned on the same side as the lock button, but further down. That might not be ergonomic for capturing photos. (And it makes us wonder if these reports are conflating the mmWave 5G antenna or SIM tray cutout for a button…)

Also, iPhone cases can struggle to accommodate new buttons. They often leave holes for basic access, making the buttons within harder to use. With a button designed for precise control, this could lead to a frustrating user experience. And if the Capture button truly has touch-sensitive features, cases with button covers would have to choose between blocking such functionality or omitting a single cover.

Case with cutout

Cases with cutouts, like JETech’s, made the Action button harder to use. This would be even more widespread for the Capture button.

The ugly: too many buttons

From an aesthetic standpoint, Apple seems to have moved on from its rigid obsession with featureless devices. For a while, it seemed the company wouldn’t be satisfied until the iPhone was a flawless rounded rectangle of glass with seamless metal edges.

Even so, introducing a fifth button might look a bit odd. And what if Apple decided this was just the beginning? Let’s all agree right now that if the iPhone 17 adds dedicated music playback buttons – including a touch-sensitive eject button for a retro Walkman feel – that really is a step too far.