In a recent development, iPhone production in India is slated to include the assembly of PCBs for the first time ever. Taiwan’s Wistron Corp is behind the manufacturing of this key component, which 9 to 5 Mac claims is the heart of the iPhone. The PCB is responsible for “holding the A-series chip, RAM, flash storage, radio chip, and so on,” representing about half the total value of the actual mobile unit. Altium explains that multilayer PCBs have become the norm due to the high density of connections and the number of components that are used in modern devices. The assembly of these PCBs is often outsourced to companies in Asia, and now Apple is following suit.
Although Apple still produces the majority of its iPhones in China, part of their recent move to India could be attributed to the strained relations between Beijing and the US. Despite this, India still remains highly dependent on China to provide supplies for smartphone parts, such as printed circuit boards (PCBs), display panels, and camera modules. Due to this factor, the recent coronavirus outbreak in China could lead to a delay in production for both Apple and Wistron in India, if it continues to spread.
To further shed light on the growing tensions between Apple and China regarding trade, BBC News explains how President Donald Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and instances of intellectual property theft. On the other hand, China has the perception that the US is attempting to prevent its rise as a global economic power. Although negotiations are currently ongoing, many issues continue to remain unresolved. At the moment, both countries have imposed “tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods,” resulting in a trade war between the two countries. With President Trump trying to encourage Americans to buy local products, China retaliated with tariffs ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent on US goods. The future of this trade war is currently unclear, according to financial analysts.
Previously, Wistron’s India-based manufacturing plants started making Apple’s SE iPhone models in Bengaluru in 2017, along with the 6S and 7 models. Their next plant is supposed to be made fully operational by April 2020, making iPhone 7 and 8 units for export. It is expected to produce an output of 8 million phones on a yearly basis. According to a recent press release by Reuters, growing PCB assembly in India will help Apple cut costs on import taxes related to smartphone components. However, both Apple and Wistron have declined to comment on this development.
Currently, an OLX study found that Apple still dominates the pre-owned smartphone market in India, leading the race against its competitor brands Samsung, Xiaomi, and BBK Electronics brands (Vivo, Oppo, and Oneplus). The demand for pre-owned smartphones is growing at a massive rate, due to the continual release of new models with better specifications. As a result, this has lead to a wider range of choices for budget-conscious users who are attracted to multiple price points.