After opening a manufacturing facility in India to produce the low-cost iPhone SE for Indian customers, Apple is now reportedly making iPhone 6s devices in India and plans to produce another model there, as well. The third model is unidentified, but it is likely the iPhone 6s Plus.
As the Economic Times reports today, local commercial production of the iPhone 6s officially kicked off last week in Bengaluru, India, nearly five months after Apple and contract manufacturer Wistron were first said to be planning a new facility in India. In April, the companies reportedly trialed Indian production of the iPhone 6s Plus, but they have apparently not started manufacturing that model locally.
Apple has turned to manufacturing within India to bolster its share of the country’s “mid-to-premium” smartphone market. India now significantly taxes imported devices, driving up their prices to incentivize companies to manufacture products inside the country. Local manufacturing is expected to help Apple make its low- to midrange devices price competitive with rivals such as Samsung, which already produces phones in India.
Interestingly, offering the lowest-priced iPhone SE model at a more appealing price to Indian customers hasn’t radically increased Apple’s sales within the country. According to the New York Times report, the domestically manufactured iPhone SE accounts for only 15 percent of Indian iPhone sales, versus imported iPhone 6 models, which amount to roughly a third of sales, even at higher prices.
Even so, moving more iPhone production to India will insulate models against steeply rising tariffs. Apple fell behind both Samsung and OnePlus in the first quarter of this year within India’s “premium” smartphone segment, after taxes forced price increases on both the iPhone 8 series and iPhone X.
Unfortunately, price drops on the iPhone 6s won’t happen immediately. Apple is not expected to be able to meet Indian demand for the iPhone 6s until production scales up, and until that time the company will need to continue importing devices, which will remain at prior prices. Additional changes in the iPhone lineup, including the introduction of at least three new models and the discontinuation of old ones, are expected in September.
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