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The One iPhone 16 Rumor I Really Hope Is True

Commentary: The Action button belongs on all new iPhones moving forward. Reports suggest it may indeed be the case with the iPhone 16.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
4 min read
close up of an iPhone with the neon purple number 16 behind it

The iPhone 16 (not pictured) is expected to inherit the iPhone 15 Pro's Action button.

Apple/Viva Tung/CNET

It sounds like there's a lot in store for the iPhone 16 Pro based on the rumors and reports that have circulated so far. But if Bloomberg's often accurate reporting turns out to be true, there's reason to look forward to the standard iPhone 16 too, particularly if it gains the iPhone 15 Pro's Action button.

The Action button is exactly what it sounds like: a shortcut button that can be used to trigger certain actions. Apple presents you with several customizations in the iPhone's settings menu. Such options include muting your phone, opening the camera, turning on the flashlight, activating the magnifier, translating phrases, recording a voice memo, using an accessibility feature or switching on Do Not Disturb (or another "Focus" mode of your choice). 

But as I wrote last week, you can do so much more with the Action button -- like order coffee from Dunkin' or Starbucks -- by using Apple's Shortcuts app. 

Apple doesn't add new buttons to the iPhone very often, so the Action button's expansion to the iPhone 16 would be a big deal. It would make the iPhone experience more consistent across the board, while making it easier to multitask and jump between apps.

Read more: I Hope These 2 iPad Pro Features Make It to the iPhone

Why the Action button belongs on all iPhones 

iPhone 15 Pro Max action button focus

You can customize the Action button to your liking. 

James Martin/CNET

The biggest reason why the Action button should come to the iPhone 16 is simple: It's actually useful. You can program it to do almost anything you want in the iPhone's Shortcuts app, opening up plenty of possibilities. 

Beyond its usefulness, it also brings a level of customization we haven't really seen on the iPhone before. All of the iPhone's buttons were created for a specific purpose: adjusting the volume, turning off or locking your iPhone, activating Siri, navigating back to the home screen, unlocking your phone, or authorizing an Apple Pay purchase. 

But Apple is leaving the Action button's purpose up to the user, within reason of course. Its role really depends on what you do most often on your phone. Other than ordering my morning coffee, I've used the Action button as a shortcut to call my husband or FaceTime my sister, launch ChatGPT's voice mode and start a timer. 

Having that degree of personalization is important because the iPhone lacks the multitasking capabilities found on Android devices. Other than the Picture in Picture feature for using apps while you're watching a YouTube video or on a FaceTime call, there's no way to open more than one app at a time on screen like you can on Android or the iPad. It's also uncertain whether Apple will ever release a foldable iPhone with a bigger internal screen for running more apps, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold

The Action button's arrival on the standard iPhone, combined with the Dynamic Island (which trickled down to the non-Pro iPhone in 2023) could make it easier to get things done without as many taps and swipes or switching between apps as often. 

Bringing the Action button to the regular iPhone would also create a more consistent iPhone experience across Apple's lineup. One of the benefits the iPhone offers over Android is that the software and hardware functionality is largely the same, whether you're using an iPhone from five years ago or one year ago. 

Of course, newer models will have longer battery life, more sophisticated cameras, higher-quality screens and improved designs compared with iPhones from years ago. But the software and the way you operate an iPhone largely remains the same from year to year,  the exception being in 2017 when Apple got rid of the home button with the iPhone X. Establishing the Action button as a norm across iPhone models would further standardize the iPhone experience. 

The iPhone 16 isn't expected to change much

iPhone 15 Pro Max

It sounds like the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max (not pictured) will get more dramatic changes than the iPhone 16 this year. 

James Martin/CNET

Part of why the Action button is shaping up to be the most significant iPhone 16 addition is because it's largely expected to be a moderate upgrade over the iPhone 15. The iPhone 16 may get a new processor, likely called the A18 chip, according to analyst Jeff Pu, which MacRumors reported. 

The other headline-grabbing iPhone 16 rumors that have surfaced so far seem specific to the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max. For example, Bloomberg reports that there will be a new button for capturing video, although it's unclear whether it will arrive on all iPhone 16 models. The Pro versions will also get larger screens, according to Bloomberg and MacRumors, while the regular, smaller-sized Pro is also expected to gain the iPhone 15 Pro Max's tetraprism telephoto lens, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo

As I've written in the past, the larger iPhone upgrade this year appears to be Apple's next software upgrade, likely to be called iOS 18. The update is expected to introduce a slew of new AI-powered features, possibly including a revamped Siri that can control your apps, summaries of news stories and notifications, and AI-generated emojis among other features, reports Bloomberg. 

With that in mind, the iPhone 16's rumored Action button seems like it could be the most exciting new hardware addition for those who don't want to splurge on the Pro. From its telephoto camera to its titanium design, always-on display and additional 1TB storage option, there's already plenty that separates the iPhone Pro from the regular iPhone. The Action button has proven its purpose, and now it deserves a place on all future iPhones. 

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