Apple earlier used to take time to make its latest products in India.
Apple could be evaluating shipping its upcoming iPhone 14 from India, as the US smartphone company looks to mitigate geopolitical risks on supply efficiency by setting up production sites outside China.
The iPhone 14, which is rumoured to be launched in September, could be the first to be produced simultaneously in India along with China, where a majority of Apple devices are manufactured, according to global analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
“My latest survey indicates (contract manufacturer) Foxconn’s iPhone production site in India will ship the new 6.1″ iPhone 14 almost simultaneously with China for the first time in 2H22 (India being one quarter or more behind in the past),” Kuo posted on Twitter.
While in the short term, India’s iPhone capacities/shipments still have a considerable gap with China, it is an important milestone for Apple in building a non-Chinese iPhone production site, he said.
The US-based company has been gradually ramping up production of iPhones in India. Currently, its devices are manufactured in India by three contract manufacturers — Foxconn (Hon Hai), Wistron and Pegatron.
Apple and its contract manufacturing partners did not respond to ET’s emailed queries till press time Friday.
The three Apple partners are part of the Indian government’s production-linked incentive scheme for mobile manufacturing. They need to make products worth a minimum of Rs 8,000 crore each this year to get the incentives.
Aside from Foxconn, Wistron could also be preparing to manufacture the latest model, with an announcement expected next month, according to a person in the know.
Wistron is also getting its third India manufacturing plant ready, which was supposed to begin operations in July but has been delayed to next year, the person said.
The development comes amid Apple expanding its manufacturing presence out of China, and into India and Vietnam in the midst of geopolitical tensions between the US and China.
Apple started manufacturing in India in 2017 with Foxconn in Tamil Nadu and Wistron in Bengaluru. It later added a third contract manufacturer, Pegatron, also based out of Tamil Nadu. The three manufacturers make the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models in India. However, none of the Pro models are made in India.
“Both Hon Hai (Foxconn) and Wistron are quite stabilised with their processes. So, it comes as no surprise that the latest model may be made simultaneously in India,” said an industry executive in the know of things.
Apple earlier used to take time to make its latest products in India. The iPhone 13 started getting made in India eight months after its launch in September 2021.
One of Apple’s key challenges in expanding its production in India has been the local supply chain ecosystem. It has more than 40 suppliers in China which have a minimum turnover of $1 billion, said the executive. Such a scale is not present in India yet.
The smartphone giant had in 2020 inked a deal with Tata Electronics for making mechanical components in India, which would comprise 40% of the phone’s cost of production.
However, the components are not yet up to scratch, according to people familiar with that matter, creating hurdles in Apple’s plans to expand its manufacturing footprint here.
While the minimum requirement is Rs 8,000 crore of production each, Apple’s contract manufacturers are expected to make iPhones worth Rs 47,000 crore in India this fiscal year as part of the second year of the production-linked incentive scheme for mobile manufacturing, primarily for exports, ET reported in April.