Apple supplier Cirrus Logic may have vaguely hinted at iPhone 15 Pro models getting haptic buttons next year, according to research firm Barclays.
In a letter to shareholders this month, the Texas-based semiconductor company said it continues to "engage with a strategic customer" and expects to "bring a new HPMS component to market in smartphones next year." HPMS refers to Cirrus Logic's high-performance mixed-signal chips, which includes haptic drivers for the Taptic Engine in iPhones.
On an earnings call with analysts this month, Cirrus Logic CEO John Forsyth narrowed down the timeframe for this new component coming to market to the "back half of next year," which would line up with iPhone 15 Pro models launching next September.
In an investor note last week, Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley said the new component that Cirrus Logic mentioned will most likely be part of additional Taptic Engines for the haptic buttons on iPhone 15 Pro models:
The biggest change to our thinking here is to model $1 of new content in the IP15 Pro 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.
In October, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said iPhone 15 Pro models will feature solid-state volume and power buttons. Kuo said the devices will be equipped with two additional Taptic Engines that provide haptic feedback to simulate the feeling of pressing the buttons, without them physically moving, similar to the Home button on recent iPhone SE models or the Force Touch trackpad on newer MacBooks.
Haptic buttons on iPhones could allow for even better water resistance and would eliminate moving parts that can wear out or break over time. However, the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are still expected to have mechanical buttons.