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Home / News / iPhone 5 haptic feedback may feel like virtual buttons

iPhone 5 haptic feedback may feel like virtual buttons

Apple can’t just add haptic feedback, can it? It has to one-up everyone with piezoelectric actuators. Baffled? Read on for revelations

Apple has filed a patent for a haptic feedback system that could create a feeling of virtual buttons on its touchscreen devices like the iPhone 5, leaving us virtually wetting our drawers.

Current haptic feedback on phones like the HTC Sensation XE or Galaxy Nexus offers a gentle handset vibration when a button is pressed. Apple plans to go further and use piezoelectric actuators – which create lots of little specific vibrating regions – to give the feeling of virtual buttons.

This is totally separate to the Senseg Feel technology rumoured to appear on the iPad 3, which delivers sensations of textures using an electric field. Or it would be if it ever appeared.

So will we see haptic feedback in the iPhone 5 when it lands this summer? Since the patent was just made public it would be fair to assume Apple’s doing some subtle marketing ahead of its launch. But puppet master Apple could equally be pulling our strings. Either way this kind of technology may arrive one day and that’s enough to get excited about.

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Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home