Apple could remove 3D Touch from new iPhones, analyst says


Apple made a huge deal about 3D Touch when it came to the iPhone in 2015. Now, just three years and phone generations later, Apple’s pressure-sensitive screen technology might be on its way out the door.

Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis said today that it’s “widely understood” that some of this year’s iPhones won’t include 3D Touch, according to MacRumors, which saw his note to investors.

Curtis was referring to the two rumored high-end iPhones, which will include OLED displays (like the iPhone X). That still leaves the other rumored model, which is supposed to look like a larger version of the iPhone X with a cheaper LCD screen; but another analyst, the very reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, said months ago that it wouldn’t include 3D Touch either.

If both analysts are right, and signals aren’t being crossed here, it would mean that 3D Touch is entirely being removed from the next generation of iPhones.

3D Touch was essentially the flagship feature on the iPhone 6S, so this would be a major admission of failure on Apple’s part. Not only that, but it would speak to an immense waste of resources — something Apple’s marketing chief told Bloomberg right after the feature launched:

“Engineering-wise, the hardware to build a display that does what [3D Touch] does is unbelievably hard,” says [Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief]. “And we’re going to waste a whole year of engineering — really, two — at a tremendous amount of cost and investment in manufacturing if it doesn’t do something that [people] are going to use. If it’s just a demo feature and a month later nobody is really using it, this is a huge waste of engineering talent.”

In the years since, the feature really hasn’t caught on. And, anecdotally, I’d guess that most iPhone users don’t even know that it’s there. Even more serious iPhone owners don’t seem to have found much use in it. And while the tech is still used in the Apple Watch, it has yet to make its way to iPads.

It’s too early to get into a deep dive on 3D Touch’s failures since it’s still entirely possible that the rumors are partly or entirely wrong. Apple could have built the tech into new iPhones through some other method that these analysts’ sources are missing, or the models could be getting mixed up so that some phones have it but others don’t. We’ll find out in mid-September when Apple is expected to host its iPhone event.

In other iPhone rumors, MacRumors also spotted a new note from Kuo saying that none of the upcoming iPhones will support the Apple Pencil. There had been some discussion of that possibility over the past months since the new iPhones are expected to be larger in size. But Kuo says Apple decided against it because it offered a poor user experience.

Curtis, the Barclays analyst, also said he expected a cheaper HomePod next year and new AirPods later this year.


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