A new report suggests that the next Apple Watch will forgo physical buttons in favor or solid-state buttons that don’t actually move. For those familiar with Apple’s hardware, this means that the buttons would functional similarly to the trackpad on MacBook/MacBook Pro and the Home button on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Neither of these control surfaces physically move and instead provide a tactile sensation mimicking a button press with haptic feedback.
In the case of the Apple Watch, the digital crown and side button will vibrate to give the sensation of pressing a button, and the effects would be provided courtesy of the Taptic Engine. Although the digital crown will lose its physical “button press”, it will still rotate to scroll through messages and menus.
By adopting solid-state components, Apple will be able to further fortify the Apple Watch against water intrusion. Fast Company adds that there is another reason for the switch to solid-state hardware: more internal space. By doing away with the physical button mechanisms, Apple will reportedly be able to squeeze in a larger battery for the next-generation Apple Watch.
Besides the solid-state buttons, we don’t expect to see many other major design changes for the Apple Watch Series 4. It’s been rumored that Apple’s vast ecosystem of watch bands will work with the new model, so there’s not much that Apple can do without breaking that compatibility. It is possible, however, that Apple could make the display larger by reducing the bezel.
We expect to see the Apple Watch Series 4 debut alongside the 2018 family of iPhones this fall.