Between Apple no longer making leather products and the utter disappointment of the new FineWoven case, there are more opportunities than ever for third-party iPhone case makers this year. But for many manufacturers, the new action button on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max is ruining their plans.
Over the past week, I’ve received case examples from several companies, and it’s clear which ones bet correctly on the existence of the action button and which ones hedged their bets too much on Apple sticking with the traditional ring switch. Some brands, such as Nomadic and MOFTI bet Apple would replace the ring switch with a button this year and designed its cases accordingly: There’s a metal button on the case that allows you to easily activate the action button whenever you want.
But other popular brands like Peak design and Bellroy have shipped iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max cases with a cutout above the volume buttons to expose the ringer switch, instead of a physical button to press the action button. The result is that the action button is recessed beneath the edge of the case, making it nearly impossible to use unless you twist your fingertip to reach it. It makes it very difficult to use the best new feature in the Pro line this year.
The root of the problem is that the typical third-party case manufacturer doesn’t really know what the new iPhone will look like (or be called) until it’s announced on stage during the Apple event. To capture the lucrative wave of customers who buy the new phones on launch day and want a case, the case maker has to rely on rumors and reports to determine the dimensions and features of the new phone and then make its cases before the iPhone. . It’s even advertised. Most years, when Apple makes minor changes to the dimensions of the iPhone, it works in its favor. But when a big hardware change occurs, things become much harder to predict.
Peak Design explained the situation in a Reddit post: “We don’t actually have the literal 3D details from Apple, so we rely on industry rumors to inform the design. In the case of the new “Action Button,” there were rumors about both the direction of the switch and the button, and we also didn’t have much information about how a potential button would be used. Due to these conflicting rumors, we took the safer route and designed a cutout that would provide good access to the button function or a switch, depending on which rumor ended up being the truth.“
An account claiming to be from Peak Design founder Peter Dering further detailed the situation in another post on reddit. “We decided to go with a cutout instead of a button a) because we couldn’t be sure they would use the action button and b) we were hopeful that the cutout would still provide a reasonably good experience,” he says. . The company apparently manufactured and shipped 30,000 cases before realizing that the cutout provided an inferior experience to that of a proper button.
It’s a big risk for the case maker, but the reward can be huge: smaller companies that can’t afford that risk might not be able to ship their cases until many weeks after the phones are in customers’ hands, losing a great opportunity. .
And when the bet is wrong, it can cost a lot to fix, both in monetary and environmental terms. Reddit posts lay out a plan to restructure Peak Design manufacturing to include the button, but those updated designs won’t be available for another four to six weeks. In the meantime, the company is trying to find an upgrade solution for those who already purchased a case and will likely have to compensate them with a gift card or other monetary value.
It might be smart to wait a few weeks before splurging on a fancy case.
Bellroy representative Julia Gaw says the same The edge the company was “stuck by that last-minute change from Apple” and is “working on a solution to make it a built-in button instead of a cutout for next production.” I asked what options are available for those who have already purchased a Bellroy iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max case and will update this article when I hear back. Box manufacturer Caudabe says that customers who ordered one of their Sheath or Synthesis cases before September 27 will be able to get a single-button version later in October at no additional cost and keep the case they already received.
If you have an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max and are looking for a good case for your new phone, your options are pretty limited right now. There’s a good chance that the case that suits your style and budget won’t support the action button well. (It can also be difficult to tell from online listings whether the case has a button or just a cutout.) My recommendation is to buy from a company or store with a good return policy, or perhaps wait a few weeks until the market shakes out. and companies send cases with the appropriate buttons.
We’re working on a guide to our favorite iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max cases and will post something once we have all the ones we want to try. In the meantime, stay safe.