China to Chennai: Apple starts producing iPhone 11 in India in major first

24 Jul 2020

Image: © Denys Prykhodov/

As it potentially explores ways to reduce its reliance on China, Apple has started producing its flagship iPhone in the Indian city of Chennai.

Reports have emerged that Apple is diversifying its key production centres away from China, starting with efforts in India.

According to the Economic Times, two senior industry executives said that Apple’s flagship iPhone 11 has recently begun production at Foxconn’s Chennai plant – the first time a top-end Apple phone has been made in India. Production will reportedly be increased in phases and the tech giant is leaving the door open to exporting the phones outside of India.

TechCrunch reported a source saying that a small batch of locally manufactured iPhone 11 units has already been shipped to retail stores in India. Production yield is currently limited, the source added, but Apple has ambitions to scale up production in India.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the iPhone 11 was a hit in India soon after launch, resulting in a 78pc year-on-year growth in Apple sales in Q1 2020.

However, iPhones remain a tiny percentage of the overall Indian smartphone market, with Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi having a commanding lead. By producing locally, Apple would be able to save 22pc on import duty and avail of a number of government benefits provided under the Make in India initiative.

Major Indian investment

Apple supplier Foxconn said earlier this month that it plans to invest $1bn in India, while Apple plans to open its first physical store in the country next year.

Apple has not officially commented on the news about production in India, but it is said that the company is also considering producing its newer, smaller iPhone SE at a plant in Bengaluru. The Economic Times had earlier reported that Apple plans to expand manufacturing overall in India, with one of its contract manufacturers, Pegatron, recently registering a subsidiary in the country.

The news comes after Apple set out its stall to be totally carbon neutral by the end of this decade, releasing a roadmap earlier this week setting out how it will power both its own and its suppliers’ plants, accelerate recycling efforts and further carbon removal.

The tech giant stated in 2018 that its operations facilities were powered entirely by renewable electricity, but it is now looking to expand that to its supply chain. More than 70 of its suppliers have committed to use 100pc renewable electricity for Apple production.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic