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Apple is killing the iPhone's mute switch and I won't stay silent!
I’ve been using an iPhone since 2010 when Apple first launched the iPhone 4. I remember happily laying my BlackBerry to rest, even though I was practically married to BBM at the time. Over the years, I’ve hopped between many devices, from both the Android and iOS camps. And because I’ve had access to phones from both sides of the fence thanks to my profession, I’ve had a chance to experience their strengths and weaknesses. To me, the physical mute switch is definitely a big plus point of using an iPhone. It’s been there since the very first iPhone, and I’ve always wanted more Android phones to adopt it. I never thought the iPhone would go without the tiny toggle, but all that’s about to change.
Multiple leaks and rumors have strongly suggested that Apple is replacing the physical mute toggle on the iPhone 15 series with an “Action Button.” There’s much ado about this little button within Apple circles; I’m sure Android users are equally interested in the wee fella too. It will reportedly have at least nine programmable options, including the ability to switch on the flashlight, trigger a shortcut, start a voice recording, pull up the magnifier, and more. Switching to Silent mode is also one of the options in this seemingly formidable list of actions. While I am looking forward to seeing how all this comes together and I’m sure Apple is readying its best corporate word salad to feed us all, I am not ecstatic about the change.
The mute switch is the easiest way to silence my iPhone or set it to ring. I can even operate it in my sleep, which I often do with my toddler snoozing in the same room. Be it meetings, movies, or public places — the reliable mute switch always delivers by functioning just the way it’s supposed to. I don’t even need to see it to flip the mute switch to the mode of my preference, but at the same time, a simple glance can tell me if my iPhone is silent (orange) or not. I’m afraid all of this basic usefulness will be lost with the new Action Button.
There's a high chance of accidental presses triggering the Action Button unknowingly.
Apple is expected to equip this button with haptics. Code found in an iOS 17 beta suggests there will be different feedback patterns for when users enable or disable Silent mode. While I’m grateful Apple thought of this, I’ll still miss knowing which mode my phone is set to by just looking at it from a distance. It’s unlikely the button will provide any visual indicators.
Plus, there’s a high chance of accidental presses triggering the Action Button unknowingly. Folks already have the same issue with the Action Button on the Apple Watch Ultra. In comparison, in my many years of using different iPhones, I’ve rarely ever toggled the mute switch by mistake. It requires a precise and intentional push.
This brings me to my next argument. While supposedly there are many customizable options for the Action Button, long-term iPhone users like me might still end up programming it to switch between silent and ringing profiles, defeating its multi-purpose nature. It’s a habit Apple has ingrained in its users for years, and giving up that convenience is hard. Even OnePlus copied this absolute cracker of a feature and faced severe user backlash when it briefly withdrew it from its flagship phones.
I would rather have lock screen options.
I would rather have lock screen options for all the actions Apple is trying to cram into the button. An even easier way to keep the mute switch and add more shortcuts would be to make the permanent flashlight and camera buttons on the iOS lock screen customizable. That would have saved the company a lot of money too. But no, Apple has to change the iPhone 15 Pro models enough to differentiate them from the non-pro models. To me, it feels like change just for the sake of change.
Do you like the Action Button idea on the iPhone 15 series?
I know only the iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to get the new Action Button, and the regular iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will likely retain the good ol’ mute switch. I’m considering buying one of the latter when Apple releases the new phones. However, new Apple features have a way of trickling down to the non-Pro iPhone models eventually, so there’s a high chance that the mute switch will become extinct in the near future. And that’s just sad.