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Who cares about iPhone 15 volume buttons? Apple needs to wow us again 

OPINION: Most of the iPhone 15 rumours so far are focused on one singular feature and it’s nothing to get excited about. But what else is there?

So desperate are fans for iPhone 15 nuggets that the ‘will it won’t it’ for this year isn’t focused on the display, the design, or the cameras. It’s all about the volume buttons for the iPhone 15 Pro. Yes, the volume buttons! 

Specifically, will they be the traditional physical buttons? Or will they be replaced by haptic solid-state buttons powered by a new Taptic Engine? 

The most recent reports suggest the feature – if you can really call it that – will now be held off until next year’s iPhone 16 Pro. The plan was said to be to introduce the feature for this year, but reportedly pre-production technical issues have set it back 12 months.

The question is, would this change have affected many people’s decision to upgrade to an iPhone 15 Pro (or the rumoured Ultra)? Not in my opinion. Given this is likely to influence the protective cases people can use, then it might even have an adverse effect on the purchase decision.

Apple handsets are being retained for longer than ever. Even Apple says people are now keeping their iPhones for an average of three years. There haven’t been that many reasons to upgrade ahead of that time in recent years. 

The device design is expected to remain largely the same for the fourth consecutive year. We’re not hearing too much speculation about revolutionary new features that would reignite interest among those who maybe have an iPhone 13 and iPhone 14.

Lost its lustre?

Why is this? It’s somewhat trifling that Apple isn’t really pushing the innovation envelope with its staple, best-selling product anymore. The annual yearly announcements have lost a lot of their lustre and are more public relations events than product reveals.

We hear about big advances in sustainability, but very little in terms of excitability. Is Apple really gambling on the mixed reality headset succeeding the iPhone and is allocating its resources in this manner? Is Apple gearing up to enter the foldables arena five years after Samsung and really shake up the range? Or is this just the natural order of things? 

Does Apple believe it has taken the iPhone as far as it can, given the short-to-mid-term base technology outlook? Are there no realistic avenues available to the company to wow us with an iPhone 15 this year? 

That would be understandable. All tech sectors tend to hit that zenith where the form factor settles into regular improvements in display tech, resolution, clock speeds, camera quality and the like. When was the last time you got properly excited about a laptop or a tablet for instance?

No more golden eggs?

I suppose the iPhone has an elevated status. If Apple is the goose, the iPhone is the golden egg. The smartphone holds almost mythical status and is arguably the most important consumer technology product of all time. These safe, incremental annual updates have shaken our faith in that and it’s a little disappointing.

Even though these things rarely stay under wraps anymore, Apple may still have something big in store for this year’s updates. It could even surprise everyone with an iPhone Fold, although we’d probably know about that by now.

However, does it even matter?

Apple will still probably sell 200-million of whatever it announces in September because of the brand loyalty consumers have. Most iPhone users who need a new phone will just (and always) buy the latest iPhone available to them. I’m hoping my iPhone 12 Pro Max lasts until the iPhone 16, but if not I’ll upgrade to an iPhone 15 out of necessity. 

One thing I won’t countenance? Buying an Android phone. Just ain’t happening and Apple knows it.

Still, I’d love Apple to take a little more risks, to the point that I’m actually excited about the product I’m buying, rather than it feeling akin to needing a new cooker or washing machine. 

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