Apple has begun mass producing iPhone 6s models in India to combat recent hikes in import duties, according to a new report.
Production kicked off last week at Wistron’s Bengaluru facility, according to industry executives cited by the Economic Times. It’s the same India-based plant that produces in-country models of the iPhone SE.
Apple experimented with a trial run of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices at the Wistron plant back in April, the Economic Times reported then. The Apple manufacturing partner was recently given approval to expand its Bengaluru facilities earlier this year, a move that will allow for production of a second model.
Why the Older iPhone 6s?
The Economic Times’ sources indicated that the iPhone 6s was chosen due to its sales potential in India. According to research by Counterpoint, the iPhone 6 makes up about a third of all Apple handset sales in the country. The Made in India iPhone SE accounts for about 15 percent of that total.
Producing iPhone models in India allows Apple to avoid past or future hikes on import duties. It’s a similar strategy taken with the Made in India iPhone SE, which kicked off production last year.
iPhone devices are already incredibly expensive in India. After recent import tax increases last year, a 256-gigabyte iPhone X costs over $1,700 in local currency. Again, devices that are produced in-country avoid these import duties.
Still, in-country production of the iPhone 6s is unlikely to affect prices for consumers in the short-term, the Economic Times points out. Since it’ll take some time for production to ramp up at Wistron’s plants, Apple will need to supplement that supply with imported handsets.
India is the second largest smartphone market in the world after China, but Apple only holds about 3 percent of the total market share.
The production of iPhone 6s devices is likely just one part of Apple’s larger strategy in the region.
Previously, Apple was said to be considering the creation of a “manufacturing ecosystem” in India — and has asked the Indian government for tax breaks and financial incentives to do so (which officials have been hesitant to grant).
Still, things are looking up for Apple in India. Based on its 2017 fiscal report, revenue in the country grew about 17 percent year-over-year.