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Is this the end of China’s dominance in iPhone production?


Apple has increased its production of iPhone 15 models in India, surpassing any previous models, and intends to continue this trend. The company aims to shift a substantial portion of its iPhone production, equivalent to over 50 million phones, to India within the next two to three years, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Despite this significant move, China will still maintain its position as the largest iPhone supplier by a considerable margin.

Apple’s suppliers, including Foxconn, view the expansion into India positively, and they are preparing for further growth. The initial progress was gradual due to infrastructure challenges and robust unions that played a role in establishing more stringent labor regulations, pushing back against practices such as 12-hour workdays.

Earlier in 2023, India’s commerce minister mentioned Apple’s plan to manufacture 25 percent of its phones in the country, although no specific timeframe was provided. The two to three-year timeline represents a noteworthy acceleration, especially considering that the iPhone 15 was the first model released with manufacturing in India on its launch day.

Apple contractor Foxconn is set to produce more iPhone 15 units at its facility in Tamil Nadu, India, surpassing the production volumes of previous models. This move aligns with Apple’s strategy to diversify manufacturing operations to mitigate supply chain risks stemming from tensions between the US and China. According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, Foxconn is in the process of constructing a plant in the southern Karnataka state, scheduled to open in April 2024, with plans for another significant facility in the pipeline.

Historically, only a small percentage of iPhones were manufactured in India, and production lagged behind China by up to nine months. However, with the iPhone 14, manufacturing commenced simultaneously in India and China. Notably, the iPhone 15 units produced in India were available in stores at the product’s launch.

Given the delicate relations between the US and China, with the US taking measures to restrict access to advanced technology in the latter, Apple remains committed to emphasizing the significance of the Chinese market. CEO Tim Cook has visited China twice in 2023, reinforcing Apple’s commitment to the region. Despite potential challenges, Apple continues to sell a substantial number of phones in China, constituting about 19 percent of its total revenue. It’s worth noting that Apple underscores that all phones sold in China through authorized channels are manufactured in China and utilize local suppliers.

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