The lack of a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack may not be the only big design change Apple introduces when it rolls out the iPhone 7 later this year. According to sources, and most recently a report from analysts Cowen and Company (via Business Insider), the home button on the iPhone 7 will be like nothing Apple has ever shipped before.
Specifically, the iPhone 7's home button may sit flush with the entire device itself and will not be able to be pressed down. Instead, Apple will incorporate Force Touch technology such that when a user taps the home button, it will trigger a series of vibrations that will mimic the feeling of a pressed button.
While this may seem a bit far fetched, note that Apple already employs such technology on the company's MacBook line. And having used Apple's MacBook, I can attest that Apple's scheme of haptic feedback truly does mimic the feeling of a physical button.
Now as for the reasons behind such a design change, there are two issues worth mentioning.
One, removing the physical button helps Apple make the device even thinner. Second—and more important—amidst reports that the iPhone 7S (which may also be called the iPhone 8) will employ an edge to edge display, Apple with the iPhone 7 is paving the way for a flush home button with an embedded Touch ID sensor.
Of course, the biggest and most controversial design change Apple plans on rolling out with the iPhone 7 is the removal of the tried-and-true 3.5mm headphone jack, a port that has been universally used for decades on end. What will be especially interesting to see is what Apple offers up as a replacement.
Apple, of course, isn't shy about abandoning old technologies in favor of new ones. But historically, Apple takes this course of action only when a better alternative is available. That said, no one really has a problem with the 3.5mm headphone jack, so it remains to be seen if Apple's solution offers up a clear technological improvement.