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The home button can easily be considered the most important button on the iPhone, but much like the phone itself, the home button has come a long way since it first debuted on the original iPhone in 2007. Find out how your favorite button has changed and grown over the years.

The original iPhone was released in 2007 and set the standard for future touch screen smartphone interfaces. This iPhone introduced the basic home button design with the rounded rectangular icon as well as the basic functionalities. Since the button was mostly used to access the single press home screen, the original iPhone boasted low failure rates compared to its successors. These rates can be attributed to fewer software features that require a double or triple tap. However, if repairs were necessary they were difficult: the home button wasn’t a part of the physical display but the docking assembly, which required the phone to be taken apart completely.

The iPhone 3g and 3gs were released in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and both contained similar home buttons to the original iPhone. The biggest difference was that the home button was part of the display assembly, not the dock connector assembly, meaning it could be opened at the front and easily replaced. Unless the contact point beneath the home button was faulty, Apple would simply replace the entire front assembly. New home button features included screengrab capabilities, and if the 3gs was updated to iOS4, a double press opened up app switching and multitasking.

The iPhone 4 was redesigned in 2010 to be slim and sleek. Due to the new design, the iPhone once again had to be opened up from the back making the home button and other components difficult to replace. With the included fast app switcher and multitasker accessible through a double press, home button usage spiked causing more home button failures. Since the home button relied on a flex cable to depress and ‘click’ the metal contact disk underneath, as the disc wore down the home button became less reliable.iphone-4-755580_960_720

The iPhone 4s premiered in 2011 with few changes to the home button. Apple added a rubber gasket and adhesive to attach the home button more securely to the display assembly. However, the underlying cable remained untouched meaning that the iPhone 4s was subject to the same long-term disc depression failures as the iPhone 4. To combat the hardware issues of the home button, Apple introduced assistive touch to iOS; when turned on assistive touch removed the need for hardware buttons by showing virtual controls on the screen. The iPhone 4s also debuted the virtual assistant, Siri, who could be accessed by holding down the home button.

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c debuted in 2012 and 2013 with a new a thinner profile and a home button that was flush to the glass. It had a different feel, but like the 4s, the physical home button was attached to the screen and contained the same ribbon cable underneath. Apple did include a stronger rubber gasket, add yellow tape to secure the cable, and reduce the gap between the glass and the button. However, these didn’t affect long-term wear and tear on the metal disk which tends to fail eventually.

The iPhone 5s was introduced at the same time as the iPhone 5c, but boasted radical changes to the home button. The home button retained its circular shape and position but lost the square icon with the new fingerprint touch id. Made of scratch-resistant sapphire and a finger detecting steel ring, the new button used a biometric sensor to learn the user’s fingerprint and thus add more security and convenience to the phone. Furthermore, users could authorize app store and iTunes purchases with the same fingerprint scanner and after iOS8, third-party apps could access it as well. However, the home button flex cable was now unique to the phone and couldn’t be replaced without affecting the touch id functionality.

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The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s came out in 2014 with the same fingerprint touch and cable problems as the iPhone 5s. However, since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s are larger, they came with a new reachability mode feature: by double tapping the home button without depressing it, users can shrink the screen size so average hands can reach buttons without readjusting. With the iOS update, many users received security ‘error 53’ that occurs when the touch id sensor doesn’t match the device’s other components after repair from a third party. This decreases the number of repairs options iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s users can have.

 The iPhone 7 is yet to be released but is rumored to have a radically different home button. For one, the home button will be a touch sensitive surface instead of a physical press button. It will be touch sensitive and rely on taps for different actions. This change should fix hardware durability issues and weatherproof the iPhone more.

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