Continued rumors suggest Apple may remove pressure-sensitive screens from the next generation of iPhone models, bringing about the end of 3D Touch. The latest hint this may happen comes from an industry report on revenue performance for manufacturers making the modules that enable 3D Touch, stating that although “Apple may remove 3D touch sensors from all 2019 iPhone devices,” sales for these companies may still grow.
Published by DigiTimes, which has a prolific but sometimes spotty history with leak and rumor accuracy, it’s not the first time we’ve heard about the current iPhones being the last hurrah for 3D Touch. Only the iPhone XS and XS Max have pressure-sensitive screens at the moment, with the iPhone XR already dismissing the feature, presumably in an effort to keep the cost down and to increase the screen-to-body ratio. But 3D Touch’s absence shows Apple does not consider it essential to operating iOS, as a pressure-sensitive feature at least, or a strong sales point.
Discussion of Apple removing 3D Touch has taken place since the beginning of the year, leading up to analysts from Barclay’s Bank talking to suppliers in China about the subject in May, where it was stated the feature would not arrive on any 2019 iPhone. After Apple released the first beta versions of iOS 13, evidence was discovered inside that 3D Touch may not be needed at all. Instead, features like Peek will be activated using a long press, not a hard press, on the screen. To let you know when the feature works, Apple will apparently use its Haptic Touch vibration, in the same way as on the iPhone XR.
3D Touch was introduced on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, when it was known as Force Touch. It’s also used on MacBook touchpads, and on the Apple Watch too. Other manufacturers have also introduced pressure-sensitive displays on mobile devices, including Huawei for the Mate S. Almost all uses are to display “hidden” short cut menus or to perform specific tasks quickly.
Apple is expected to launch at least three new iPhone models later this year, at an event that has traditionally taken place around September. We’ll find out then if 3D Touch as we know it now has been pushed aside.