Apple can get rid of lateral physical buttons in the foreseeable future. The company's new patent application describes that the next generation iPhone can receive touch-sensitive faces on the case, allowing all the functions of the mechanical buttons to be shifted to them.
Apple will not be the first if it implements this technology. For example, the owners of HTC U11 and Google Pixel 2 already now can boast a similar way to manage the device. Both smartphones have touch sensitive side edges, which allows owners to perform a variety of actions.
As for Apple's patent, the document describes convenient volume control with the help of special gestures. So far, the application is only at the stage of consideration, so do not expect that this technology will find its application in the new iPhone. At least in the next few years.
Recall that in 2016, Apple refused the headphone jack, thereby causing a surge of negativity in its direction. If the company still decides to abandon the physical buttons, then this story can happen again. However, we must keep in mind that Apple, having finalized this technology, can make it really convenient in everyday use.