I miss iPhone’s Home button

iPhone home button

I upgraded my old iPhone SE to an iPhone 13 a few months ago. The main instigator of my upgrade was to have better pictures of my son as he grows up. I loved my old phone—it was small, reliable, and met most of my needs. So I didn’t want a new phone; I wanted a better camera.

There is no doubt my new phone is better. The performance, the screen real estate, and the camera were all significant improvements. But...

I miss my beloved Home button.

Yes, the new iPhones are cleaner. But the lack of a Home button introduces some experience paper cuts:

Face ID is excellent, but it has its limits. Unlocking my phone became more challenging with the lights off at night, wearing sunglasses, or multitasking. The purchase confirmation on the new iPhone models is clunky, with a double-click of the sleep/wake button. The slight friction created when using Apple pay in a physical environment isn’t huge, but it is a minor pain. Thumb ID was just so dang useful.

Without the home button, switching apps is now initiated with a slide-up gesture—even after a couple of months, I rarely hit the correct target area to land in the app switch mode. If you swipe too far up, it clears the app and sends you to the home screen. I miss the simple double tap of the home button to bring up the task switcher.

A new gesture to switch between apps (swipe up) required a new gesture for launching the Control Center. On Home button iPhones, the Control Center was triggered by swiping up from the bottom edge. Now it’s launched by swiping down from the screen’s top right edge. This seems like a slight shift, but my iPhone 13 is large, which creates a long reach for my thumb. I rarely trigger this gesture correctly. It requires a new level of precision. This makes for a frustrating hiccup I experience daily. I’m constantly opening up the Notification Center instead of the Control Center.

The last thing I miss is mapping triggers to the home button. On my iPhone SE, I had triple-tap, initiating a black-and-white preview of my display. This isn’t as big of an issue. But I still miss it.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon or a grumpy old man. I assumed once I established some new muscle memory, things would shift. However, I don’t think learning new behaviors will fix these issues after a couple months. There were tradeoffs with ditching the Home button—small degradations to common experiences. These degradations feel small one at a time, but the irritation adds up: “Death by a thousand paper cuts.”