Apple to start making iPhone 17 in India before China, marking major shift in global strategy

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In a major development in Apple’s manufacturing plans in India, Apple will start assembling the iPhone 17 in its Indian factories, before anywhere else in the world. This is the first time that Apple will be developing the manufacturing process outside China.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, an expert on all things Apple, the NPI or new product introduction for the standard iPhone 17, is scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2025. This marks a departure from the traditional Chinese development sites, as the NPI for the iPhone 17 will commence in India.

The decision to start the development of a new iPhone model outside of China underscores India’s growing significance in Apple’s global production landscape.

The selection of the standard iPhone 17 for this endeavour is strategic, as its design development is considered to be less complex, thereby reducing potential design risks associated with the transition.

Moreover, Apple is fostering stronger ties with the Indian government by enlisting Tata, a prominent Indian company, as an iPhone assembler. Tata had previously acquired Wistron’s iPhone production lines in India. This move underscores Apple’s commitment to deepening its engagement with the Indian market.

Strengthening its relationship with the Indian government is not just a goodwill gesture for Apple, it also holds strategic significance for its future. This strategic alliance is set to boost iPhone and other product sales in India and is a critical component of Apple’s growth strategy for the coming decade. The shift in production also indicates a global realignment in tech manufacturing, and India stands at the forefront of this transformative wave.

In a significant shift in global iPhone manufacturing, a substantial portion of Apple’s iconic devices is now being produced in India. As of 2023, India accounts for approximately 12–14 per cent of global iPhone shipments, says Kuo. This is a figure that marks a substantial rise in Apple’s reliance on Indian manufacturing capabilities.

Foxconn, the prominent Taiwanese multinational electronics manufacturer, plays a pivotal role in this paradigm shift. Foxconn currently owns and operates 75–80 per cent of the iPhone production capacity within India, solidifying its position as a key player in Apple’s global supply chain.

The momentum towards Indian iPhone production shows no sign of slowing down. If all goes as planned, the proportion of iPhones crafted in India is poised to surge to 20–25 per cent by 2024, a clear indication of Apple’s commitment to diversifying its manufacturing base.

This expansion of iPhone production in India is not an isolated development. It coincides with a noticeable decrease in production scale in Foxconn’s Chinese facilities. By 2024, Foxconn’s production capacity in Zhengzhou and Taiyuan, China, is anticipated to shrink by 35–45 per cent and 75–85 per cent, respectively, as reported by Kuo Several factors contribute to this shift, including the increasing allocation of iPhone orders to Luxshare and advancements in production line automation.

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