A purported image of the front of an iPhone 7 has appeared on the Internet today, via mobipicker.com. Blurry cams and bad photography aside, the picture claims to a major new detail for the upcoming flagship iPhone 7 launch, which is expected to mostly resemble an iPhone 6s in appearance.
The image shows a tweaked Home Button that appears to be flat with the bezel, meaning Apple will drop the physical click in favor of a fully touch-sensitive capacitive Home Button. Noting that the image could quite easily be faked, it does appear to show a button that has no depth …
Rumors of a flush home button have surfaced before for iPhone 7 albeit rarely. Ostensibly, the virtual button would enable Apple to make the iPhone fully waterproof by removing gaps for water and debris to enter the chassis.
In terms of functionality, the new button — if real — would work similarly to the existing Home Button with a simple tap on the screen replacing a full click and depression. Perhaps the button would also integrate 3D Touch pressure-sensitivity to be able to distinguish between light touches and deep presses in the absence of a physical moving element.
Physical Home Buttons in current iPhones are a massive point of failure: moving parts break. Transitioning the iPhone to use a capacitive sensor would eliminate that weakness and also assist with waterproofing efforts.
It would also help distinguish the iPhone 7 from its predecessor somewhat in a year when the general chassis design is not expected to change very much at all besides some minor exterior refinements. Internal changes include 256 GB storage, faster processor and graphics and significant camera component upgrades.
However, the general lack of reports about front screen mean this image should be treated with much skepticism. Although there have been a couple of previous rumors supporting the idea of a touch Home Button, most sources have claimed that the iPhone will be practically identical in appearance.