Following up on a January report that Apple planned to produce inexpensive iPhone 6s models at a new production facility in Bengaluru, India, the country’s Economic Times said today that Apple is trialing iPhone 6s Plus production, with plans to begin domestic manufacturing in two weeks. Apple’s goal is to meet government requirements necessary to reduce the price of iPhones within India.
According to the report, Wistron has set up a new assembly line for the nearly three-year-old iPhone 6s Plus, which is currently one of Apple’s most popular phones in India. Due to government policies, producing the phone within India can cut its price by 5 to 7 percent, though Apple will need to produce India’s entire demand for the model within the country to see the full savings. The price could drop further if Apple sources phone components and packaging within the country, an effort that’s already underway.
India’s struggles with imported technologies are well-documented at this point, as its government has used increasingly steep tariffs to encourage domestic manufacturing of products consumed within its borders. The country raised imported smartphone tariffs from 10 to 15 percent last December, and then from 15 to 20 percent this February. Even before the tariffs, premium-priced iPhones have been at a disadvantage in the price-conscious and technologically developing country.
Apple has seen some success, however, by selling its oldest and/or lowest-priced phones in India. To that end, the iPhone SE — Apple’s only iPhone with a 4-inch screen — is already manufactured in Indian factories, providing the government with the jobs it seeks while diminishing taxes on that model. The company also has a dominant share of the country’s smaller premium smartphone market.