By Sankalp Phartiyal
For the first time, the new iPhone model you buy on the launch day could be made in India.
Apple Inc. plans to make the India-built iPhone 15 available in the South Asian country and some other regions on the global sales debut day, people familiar with the matter said. While the vast majority of iPhone 15s will come from China, that would be the first time a latest generation, India-assembled device is available on the first day of sale, they said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private.
It would also underscore India’s growing production prowess, and reflect a significant departure from Apple’s previous strategy of selling mostly Chinese-made new devices to frenzied customers across the world. The new iPhone 15 is expected to go on sale in the days or weeks after its unveiling, slated for 10 a.m. California time on Tuesday.
Cupertino, California-based Apple began iPhone 15 production at supplier Foxconn Technology Group’s factory in southern Tamil Nadu state last month. That move was yet another effort by the US tech giant to further narrow the gap between its India operations and its main manufacturing bases in China.
Slight delays with the India-built device could occur because of unforeseen logistics bottlenecks, the people said. Apple representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Apple is set to introduce the iPhone 15, updated watches and AirPods at a gala event at its US headquarters. Sales of new products begin typically around 10 days after the unveiling.
Before the iPhone 14, Apple assembled just a fraction of its global output in India, which lagged behind China production by six to nine months. That delay was drastically reduced last year to just weeks, and Apple has increased the proportion of iPhones it assembles in India to reach 7% at the end of March.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s financial incentives to boost local manufacturing and Apple’s strategy to look beyond China amid a Washington-Beijing trade war have helped India become increasingly important to the iPhone maker’s diversification drive.
The iPhone 15 is expected to be the biggest update to the device in three years. It will include upgrades to the camera system across the range, and the Pro models will gain an improved 3-nanometer processor. The new lineup is critical to reviving flagging sales. Apple in August reported its third straight quarter of declining sales, weighed down by tepid consumer demand in key markets like the US, China and Europe.
Other Apple suppliers in India — Pegatron Corp. and a Wistron Corp. factory that is soon being acquired by the Tata Group — will also likely soon assemble the iPhone 15, Bloomberg News has reported.
Apple, which opened its first India stores this year, views the fast-growing market as both a retail opportunity and an important production base for its gadgets in the longer term. In the quarter through June, iPhone sales in India grew at a double-digit rate to a new high, Apple said without revealing precise numbers.