Yesterday we saw a leaked photo of what looks to be the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, and today brings us the iPhone 7 Plus. The new photos look pretty much like what we’re expecting, but with a glaring omission: the physical mute switch is gone.
The photos come courtesy of Nowhereelse.fr, and along with the missing mute switch, they show what appears to be a Smart Connector on the back plus the same repositioned antenna lines from the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 pic. What we don’t see—just like every other leaked iPhone photo—is the bottom of the device where the headphone jack may or may not be. Rumors say Apple is ditching the port in favor of audio over the Lightning connector.
Removing the mute switch is a surprising move, assuming that’s really happening. The switch has been part of Apple’s design since the first iPhone was released, and is so useful it’s hard to imagine an iPhone without one.
Apple did remove the mute switch from its iPad lineup, but there’s a big difference in the way a tablet is used compared to a smartphone. On a tablet, the switch can serve as a rotation lock or to mute; on a smartphone, the switch lets you quickly and discreetly disable audio without needing to look at the device or wake up the display.
The photos show what looks like a legit iPhone body that’s not quite ready for shipping. That could mean—assuming the pics are legit—this is a design Apple considered, but won’t ship. It could also mean Apple is nixing one of the basic features that’s been a great part of the iPhone design.
Assuming Apple really is ditching the iPhone mute switch, there’ll still be a way to silence our phones. Presumably Apple found a way to make that at least as easy as using a dedicated mute switch, and if not, get ready for tech pundits to say Apple has lost its design savvy.
Apple isn’t saying anything about the next iPhone refresh other than it’ll include features we didn’t realize we can’t live without. If these latest photos are correct, one feature Apple thinks we can live without is a dedicated mute switch.