Apple will reportedly start assembling its premium iPhone models in India

By Chaim Gartenberg

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Apple is set to start building its high-end iPhone models in India in early 2019, with the company partnering with the local branch of Foxconn (which already handles a huge chunk of Apple’s existing iPhone manufacturing), according to a report from CNBC.

While Apple has been assembling iPhones in India since 2017, beginning with the iPhone SE and followed by the iPhone 6S earlier this year, the newly reported Foxconn partnership would see newer and more expensive iPhones, like the iPhone X, start to be assembled in India as well.

It’s a move that would make a lot of sense for Apple. In recent years, the Indian government has put in place high tariffs on imported smartphones, while also offering cheaper import rates on smartphone parts in order to encourage manufacturers to build devices in India and drive the country’s manufacturing business.

Avoiding those high tariffs is the reason Apple started building the iPhone SE and 6S in India. And while the older phones still haven’t been a runaway success, it seems Apple is willing to try a similar strategy with its more feature-filled high-end models.

Apple has been struggling of late in the Indian market, with its pricey phones unable to compete with cheaper and more popular models from brands like Samsung and Xiaomi. The most popular Apple phone in the country is the decidedly dated iPhone 6, and while the company is certainly trying to boost sales of its more expensive (and more profitable) new phones, it’s still going to be an uphill battle to break into the market. It still remains to be seen whether cheaper iPhone X models will be the tipping point, but by building the phones in India, Apple is at least doing all it can to set itself up to try.