Why does the iPhone have a physical mute button?

The iPhone's physical mute button is one of the most curious features that Apple has kept in its line of smartphones. After all, it's more intuitive to turn the volume down completely or include a software button, like on the iPad, to mute the system.

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We also know how much Apple prioritizes minimalism in its devices and operating systems, as other features have been removed – headphone jack, home button – even though they still remain as industry standards. So why, after all these years, does the company still keep the physical mute button on the iPhone?


Apple still maintains the mute button on iPhones (Image: Thiago Furquim/FreeGameGuide)

iPod inspiration

One of the answers to this question can be found in the first iPod, launched in 2001. This device had a physical button very similar to the iPhone's to “lock” the other buttons and prevent music from having its playback affected by accidental touches in the pocket. or in your backpack, for example.

During the production of the first iPhone, launched in 2007, Apple was inspired by the iPod's physical button and implemented it on its smartphone. Since there was no need for a function switch, as the virtual slide lock button already performed that function, she turned the physical button into a silencer.

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The first iPods had a physical button to lock the system (Image: Cartoons Plural/Unsplash)

The physical button on the iPhone

On smartphones from previous generations, still with a physical keyboard, the way to silence them was to simply lower the volume to 0. This can be a problem in an advanced generation, as it can confuse the user's intention to put the device in vibrate mode. mode or just mute the sound of videos, games and other applications.

Therefore, the most convenient solution for the user is to move the physical button to silent mode, with an orange strip visible, stopping all sound from the iOS system. On Android, for example, the solution is a software button, which is divided between silencing just applications or silencing the entire device.

Some iPad models no longer have a physical button to silence the system, forcing the user to access the feature through the Control Center. It is very likely that the iPhone will adopt this feature at some point. For now, the physical mute button not only makes the process easier, it is a semiotic symbol of the Apple smartphone.

Gabriel Lafetá Rabelo

Father, husband, systems analyst, web master, owner of a digital marketing agency and passionate about what he does. Since 2011 writing articles and content for the web with a focus on technology,