Apple is beginning to assemble the iPhone 12 in India as it ramps up its production capacity in the world's second-largest smartphone market. Foxconn, a contract manufacturing partner of Apple, is assembling the iPhone 12 base model -- though currently no other iPhone 12 model (Pro, Pro Max, Mini) -- in the country.
The move underscores how India is emerging as a big production hub for global smartphone makers. Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus have been assembling their smartphone models in India for more than half a decade and have increased their production capacities in recent years.
To attract global giants, New Delhi has been offering tax benefits to firms that locally produce in India and in recent quarters has significantly increased the perks.
"We are optimistic and looking forward to building a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating with the global value chains, thereby strengthening electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country," said India's IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last year.
Apple began locally assembling select iPhone models in India in 2017 -- beginning with the iPhone SE -- though for the initial years the company's contract partners locally produced only older iPhone models in the country.
Analysts have estimated that Apple, which launched its online store in India last year and is working to set up its first physical retail store in the country this year, plans to move between 7% to 10% of its iPhone production to India as it looks to cut reliance on China. TechCrunch understands the figure is "wild speculation."
The iPhone maker suffered a setback in India late last year after a violent protest at a facility in Wistron, one of its key manufacturing partners of Apple, near Bangalore. But the Taiwanese firm appears to have resolved the issues. It said last month that it was rehiring workers and will soon be resuming production at its facility.
"Apple is dedicated to making the best products and services in the world to delight our customers. We are proud to be starting production of iPhone 12 in India for our local customers," said an Apple spokesperson in India in a statement.
Apple assumes just 2% of the Indian smartphone market, but it has grown in recent quarters. Apple shipped more than 1.5 million iPhone units in India in the quarter that ended in December, up 100% year-on-year, making this its best quarter in the world’s largest smartphone market to date, according to research firms Counterpoint and CyberMedia Research.
Unlike several foreign firms that offer their products and services at low prices in India, Apple has focused entirely on a small fraction of the population that can afford to pay big bucks, said Jayanth Kolla, chief analyst at Convergence Catalyst. And while it took several years, Apple has carved out a slice of the market that is growing, he said.