Haptic Touch vs 3D Touch: What's the Difference?

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Apr 12, 2001
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With the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, Apple did away with 3D Touch across its entire iPhone lineup, replacing the former 3D Touch feature with Haptic Touch.

In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about Haptic Touch and how it differs from the 3D Touch feature that's been available since the iPhone 6s.


What is Haptic Touch?

Haptic Touch is a 3D Touch-like feature that Apple first introduced in the 2018 iPhone XR and later expanded to its entire iPhone lineup.

Haptic Touch uses the Taptic Engine and provides haptic feedback when the screen is pressed on one of Apple's new iPhones. A Haptic Touch is a touch and hold gesture, and it can be used across the iOS 13 operating system.


Haptic Touch can be used by pressing in a relevant location until a little haptic pop is felt against the finger and a secondary menu pops up, with content varying based on where you're using the feature. A simple tap will activate one of the options on the secondary menu that pops up.

How is Haptic Touch different from 3D Touch?

3D Touch supports multiple levels of pressure, so you could have a softer press do one thing and a harder press do another thing. As an example, Apple used the multiple pressure levels for "Peek and Pop" gestures.

On a 3D Touch device, you were able "Peek" into a web link to see a preview, and then press harder to pop into it and open it up in Safari, for example. Those secondary "pop" gestures are not available with Haptic Touch because it's a single level of pressure (essentially a long press) rather than multiple pressure levels.


You can still sort of get the same functionality as Peek and Pop, but now it's more of a Peek and Tap. Just press and hold to activate a Peek with Haptic Touch and then tap the relevant section of the menu or preview that pops up.

Where does Haptic Touch work?

Haptic Touch works everywhere that 3D Touch works. You can use it on Home screen app icons to bring up Quick Actions, you can use it on links, phone numbers, addresses, and more to preview content or to activate different gestures on the iPhone or to bring up various contextual menus.


There are some notable differences in how Haptic Touch and 3D Touch behave. As an example, with 3D Touch, you could press anywhere on the keyboard to turn the iOS keyboard into a cursor. With Haptic Touch, you have to use that gesture on the space bar, which is an adjustment.

Deleting apps has also changed somewhat. Rather than pressing and holding briefly to make the apps "jiggle," a press and hold now brings up an option to "Rearrange" apps, which lets them be rearranged or deleted. You can still use the old method, but the press and hold needs to be a lot longer.

Below are some of the main things that Haptic Touch can do:

[*]Activating Live Photos
[*]Trackpad activation (with space bar)
[*]Expand notification options
[*]Activate Quick Actions on the Home screen
[*]Bring up quick reply options in Messages
[*]Preview links in Safari and access menu options
[*]Open new tabs in Safari
[*]Preview Photos and bring up menu options
[*]Preview Mail messages and bring up quick actions
[*]Activate the flash light on the Lock screen
[*]Activate the camera on the Lock screen
[*]Activate extra features in Control Center
[*]Deleting apps (the new Rearrange option)
Haptic Touch essentially works across the iOS 13 operating system and in most of the Apple designed apps, along with some third-party apps. Almost all apps have extra elements that can be activated with a Haptic Touch gesture, so it's worth experimenting to figure out what's what.

Does Haptic Touch feel different?

Haptic Touch does feel different, mostly because it works a bit slower than 3D Touch gestures. Haptic Touch is a press and hold sensation, while 3D Touch is a faster press with force kind of gesture that activates quicker.

The actual haptic feedback component of Haptic Touch feels similar to the feedback received from a 3D Touch, so in that respect, it's close to indistinguishable. As mentioned, though, there's no secondary level of feedback when using Haptic Touch like there was with 3D Touch.

Why did Apple get rid of 3D Touch?

3D Touch was never available on the iPad, so Apple may have nixed it to make sure the iPhone and the iPad offer a similar experience.

With Haptic Touch and a long press on the iPad, the gestures used to get to additional contextual information like Quick Actions are the same. That was never the case with 3D Touch -- the iPad simply didn't have the extra gestures available.


3D Touch was also something of a fringe feature that was never mainstream, which could also be a reason why Apple decided to go with something that's simpler and ultimately more intuitive. One single press gesture is easier to use than a press gesture that supports multiple levels of pressure for different actions.

Where are the Haptic Touch controls?

Haptic Touch can be somewhat customized with an adjustable time that it takes to trigger Haptic Touch. You can choose between fast or slow activation, with the default setting being fast.


This feature is located in the Accessibility section of the Settings app:

[*]Open up the Settings app.
[*]Choose the Accessibility section.
[*]Tap on "Touch."
[*]Tap on "Haptic Touch."
There's an option to preview the Haptic Touch feedback options right in the Settings app. Most people are likely going to want to keep the Haptic Touch feedback set to Fast because even Fast is on the slow side compared to 3D Touch.

The Future of Haptic Touch

Now that 3D Touch has been eliminated in the 2019 iPhone lineup and many 3D Touch gestures have been tweaked to be more Haptic Touch friendly even on older iPhones, Haptic Touch seems to be the new standard.

We can expect Haptic Touch to be the new feedback feature in iPhones going forward, and it's not likely 3D Touch will be making a return.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about Haptic Touch, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: Haptic Touch vs 3D Touch: What's the Difference?
 
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DamoTheBrave

macrumors regular
Apr 20, 2011
146
225
I quite like 3D Touch although it was never properly implemented. Many of APple’s own apps lacked the implementation right up until the year they ironically killed it. Wifi and Bluetooth are both much improved and I love the way the camera and flashlight apps work. IOS13 was the year it finally got properly implemented - all these years since the iPhone 6s.
 

star-affinity

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2007
1,035
386
3D touch is still there above the settings for Haptic Touch on my XS Max, so it can still be used, but it's just ”one level” and does the same thing as a ”long touch” (i.e. Haptic Touch).

By the way, does anyone notice any difference between the ”Fast” and ”Slow” touch duration settings? Seems about the same to me... :confused:

Edit:
Okay, there is a slight difference but I think it's hard to tell there on the test image. More noticeable for me for icons on the home screen (for example) for some reason.

Edit 2:
One problem I see with Haptic Touch is that it relatively easy can be accidentally activated on an item (happens to me quite often for links on pages in Safari for example). Not so with 3D Touch. While there is an option to disable 3D Touch I see no way of disabling Haptic Touch and using only 3D Touch for those of us that has a device that supports it. Too bad…
 
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mcfrazieriv

macrumors 6502a
Jan 30, 2012
725
1,769
Irvine, CA
I bought the iPhone 11 Pro Max ... and I absolutely hate Haptic touch. 3D Touch was useful and it made sense. It made no sense to remove something that has usefulness.

One example is how distorted the long press feels now to gain access to the keyboard cursor. They even had to limit the thing to the spacebar to activate and scrolling left to right sucks.

The other is in order to delete an app you must first "Rearrange" them in a submenu. :\
 

rjtyork

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2009
182
286
Another reason to hold on to my 8+. I really prefer the pressure sensitive gestures. I think it’s one of the more useful things I’ve come across upgrading from a 6+ to this phone. I hope they do bring it back. It will certainly increase the probability of me upgrading.
 

mikeleeuk

macrumors member
Oct 5, 2007
33
5
North Walsham
Does anyone know if it’s possible to have “System Haptics” turned on (in Settings > Sounds & Haptics), but turn off the horrible glass-clinking sound every time you long press anything with the ringer volume turned up? 🤢 I love having the additional vibrates, e.g., when turning on silent mode or trying to turn the ringer volume down when it’s already at the minimum level, but that sound really sets my teeth on edge.

Sorry if I’ve ruined anyone else’s life by helping them discover this “feature”, btw... 90% of the time I have my phone on silent so I only found out about it when I saw people were returning their phones because of the awful sound their taptic motor was making... Nope, turns out Apple hasn’t really understood the point of haptics and has decided they need to make a grating sound every time you use them, as well. 🙄
 

swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
To the extent it was a "fringe" feature is only the fault of Apple. It was a huge keynote feature for the iPhone 6s—the next step past multi-touch.

It would have been so easy to give 3D touch items a visual indicator. And even if not, how many people using Macs use all of the esoteric keyboard shortcuts? They're still useful. Outside of people reading Macrumors, I doubt many people launch an app by typing command space, the first letters of the app and then return. But it's still nice for the people who do.

I don't buy the thing about parity with the iPad, either. The iPad has Apple Pencil support. The iPhone does not. Apple always used to say they wouldn't hold one product back to prevent it from cannibalizing another. And the iPad even has its "own OS" now.
 

jml1982

macrumors member
Aug 31, 2015
41
232
Haptic sucks compared to 3D touch. Haptic lags, it takes way longer to do the same action. And dimming lights or the flashlight sucks... It was a great tech that I wish they would have promoted better. Also, I miss using it on the keyboard anywhere to get a cursor, not just the small keyboard...
 

Radeon85

macrumors 6502
Mar 16, 2012
361
256
South Wales, UK
Can't move the cursor on 3rd party keyboards as it relied on 3D touch, games that used 3D touch were very good such as racing games that worked like a gas pedal, the harder you press the faster you went and you could even keep to a certain speed if you touched the screen gently enough.

Menus are also annoyingly slow with haptic touch and I miss the fine grain control of 3D touch.
 

gaximus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 11, 2011
944
1,220
Can't move the cursor on 3rd party keyboards as it relied on 3D touch, games that used 3D touch were very good such as racing games that worked like a gas pedal, the harder you press the faster you went and you could even keep to a certain speed if you touched the screen gently enough.

Menus are also annoyingly slow with haptic touch and I miss the fine grain control of 3D touch.
You can long press on the spacebar to move the cursor, that was a huge relief, but still much slower. I didn't realize how much I used it, even the lock screen flashlight or camera feels like it takes forever now. I used to just smash it and it would work, now I do that and nothing. I have to sit there holding the button like a Neanderthal.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
20,660
22,360
To the extent it was a "fringe" feature is only the fault of Apple. It was a huge keynote feature for the iPhone 6s—the next step past multi-touch.

It would have been so easy to give 3D touch items a visual indicator. And even if not, how many people using Macs use all of the esoteric keyboard shortcuts? They're still useful. Outside of people reading Macrumors, I doubt many people launch an app by typing command space, the first letters of the app and then return. But it's still nice for the people who do.

I don't buy the thing about parity with the iPad, either. The iPad has Apple Pencil support. The iPhone does not. Apple always used to say they wouldn't hold one product back to prevent it from cannibalizing another. And the iPad even has its "own OS" now.
This whole discoverability nonsense is just that, nonsense. How is long press any more discoverable than 3D Touch? It’s not and never was. And all the Android fanboys who laughed at 3D Touch as nothing more than long press with feedback...sorry it’s not the same at all. Haptic Touch is no replacement for 3D Touch. Gruber thinks they got rid of it so they could put bigger batteries in the phones. I think it’s because the new mainstream iPhone (XR and now 11) was never going to get it for cost reasons and Apple didn’t want to support it just for the pro models. Oh and it’s probably saving them a few bucks too which Tim Cook would approve of.
 
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Jandalf

macrumors newbie
Oct 27, 2016
11
13
„Haptic touch is slower...“ No. 1 reason why 3D is superior to me. Especially for special cases on the keyboard. Didn’t really use 3D Touch on other occasions, but on my XR the haptic touch poping up all the time where I’m not quick enough to release my finger really is annoying
- - Post merged: - -

doesn’t the article miss an important fact why Apple got rid of 3D Touch?
It’s much more expansive!!!!
 

unQuestionable

macrumors newbie
Feb 14, 2018
21
8
Fargo/Moorhead Area
Besides the slight lag behind the input of 3D Touch, the one place I specifically miss 3D Touch is activating the cursor anywhere within the keyboard. It’s only a fraction more cumbersome to have to specifically choose the space bar.

That AND the pressure sensitive Live wallpapers were fun to play with while tripping or otherwise vibing.