As we head into the Diwali festive season that is expected to drive up demand and sales across sectors, including personal technology, there is again a lot of excitement in certain quarters about the Apple iPhone models being manufactured in India. At this time, the latest generations of the Apple iPhone SE as well as the iPhone 11 series are being manufactured in India. It is being seen as a boost to the Make in India initiative. The other iPhones being manufactured and assembled in India include the iPhone XR. This Made in India push could be a crucial as we head into the festive season sales that lie ahead. Apple’s partners in India, Foxconn and Wistron are now manufacturing and assembling the iPhones at their facilities in the country.
Let us answer the big question first—does this at all mean your next iPhone purchase will cost you any lesser than it does right now? Will the Apple iPhone suddenly become more affordable? Do not expect that to at all happen, because Apple follows a global pricing strategy for the iPhone and does not necessarily localize it for different markets. This global pricing figure has enough cushioning to absorb currency variations too, which can be quite volatile from time to time. However, the Made in India units of the iPhone will provide insurance against sudden price rise in case the customs duty rates get changed again—something that happened a few months ago as well.
Secondly, we also do not know at this time what sort of manufacturing and assembling capacity we are looking at. It is likely that while the Made in India units will be arriving in stores in the coming weeks ahead of the Diwali festival sales, Apple will still be significantly reliant on importing iPhone units as it does now, at least for some time to come. A lot will depend on the demand, and how many units the Foxconn and Wistron facilities in India are able to manufacture.
Apple is also making the iPhone 11 in India, at the Foxconn plant near Chennai. It is the first time Apple is making its latest flagship phone in the country, for the line-up that includes the iPhone 11, the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR on sale in India at this time. Apple uses the Foxconn production facilities to manufacture the iPhone XR in India. Foxconn, or the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. are headquartered in Taiwan. Foxconn also makes phones for Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi in India, at its Andhra Pradesh manufacturing facilities.
Foxconn will be investing as much as $1 billion to further enhance the manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, over a period of three years. The same plant also manufactured the previous generation of the iPhone SE before it was discontinued. “We are fully pushing ahead with next steps there (in India), and maybe in a few months’ time we can reveal on our website the next steps and report back to everyone. We’ll have further investment there,” Liu Young-Way, Chairman of Foxconn, had said during the company’s AGM in June.
Just last month, IT Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad had tweeted, “2020 - iPhone 11, 2019 - iPhone 7 & XR, 2018 - iPhone 6S, 2017 - iPhone SE. This chronology is a statement in itself as to how @narendramodi govt. has developed the mobile phone manufacturing ecosystem in India. It's only a humble beginning.”
Apple’s focus on Make in India comes at a time when the company is reducing its reliance on the manufacturing facilities based in China. There is pressure from the Trump administration in the US, as a fallout of the trade war between the two countries and the COVID pandemic. Apple has already started manufacturing the Mac Pro computers in Texas in the US. Yet, Apple will continue to rely heavily on manufacturing facilities in China at least for the foreseeable future, considering the investments made over the past few years in those facilities and supply chains as well.