The introduction of Apple’s new Action Button in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max has caused a significant disruption for third-party iPhone case makers. With Apple no longer making leather products and the disappointment surrounding the new FineWoven case, third-party case makers had an opportunity to capture a larger market share this year. However, the introduction of the Action Button has thrown a wrench into their plans.
Case samples received from various companies have shown that some brands, like Nomad and MOFT, correctly predicted the existence of the Action Button and designed their cases accordingly. These cases feature a metal button that allows users to easily activate the Action Button. On the other hand, popular brands like Peak Design and Bellroy shipped cases with a cutout above the volume buttons to expose the ringer switch instead of a hard button. As a result, the Action Button is recessed below the lip of the case, making it difficult to use.
The problem arises from the fact that third-party case makers don’t know the exact dimensions and features of the new iPhone until it is announced by Apple. To catch the wave of customers who buy the new phones on release day and want a case, case makers rely on rumors and reporting to determine the design of their cases before the iPhone is announced. Usually, minor changes in dimensions don’t pose a problem, but when there is a significant hardware change like the Action Button, it becomes challenging to predict.
One company, Peak Design, explained their situation on Reddit, stating that they did not have the literal 3D details from Apple and relied on industry rumors. They chose a cutout design because they were uncertain about the use of the Action Button and hoped that it would still provide a good user experience. Unfortunately, this decision proved to be wrong, and they had to retool their manufacturing process to include the button. A similar situation occurred with Bellroy, who is now working on a solution to make it an integrated button rather than a cutout.
The consequences of getting it wrong can be significant, both financially and environmentally. Case makers have to revise their manufacturing processes, which takes time and resources. They may also have to compensate customers who purchased cases without the proper button design.
For users seeking a case for their iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max, the options are currently limited. It is recommended to purchase from a company or store with a good return policy or wait a few weeks until companies begin shipping cases with proper buttons. It can be challenging to determine from online listings if a case has a button or just a cutout, so caution is advised.
In conclusion, while the new Action Button in the latest iPhone models has created an opportunity for third-party case makers, it has also posed a challenge. The inability to know the exact design of the new iPhone until it is announced by Apple has resulted in some cases not supporting the Action Button effectively. Users are advised to exercise caution when purchasing cases and to wait for the market to stabilize before making a decision.