Apple supplier Wistron will soon start assembling iPhone PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) locally in India. Apple iPhone PCBs were earlier manufactured overseas and then imported to the country. The new move is likely instigated by the government choosing to increase customs duty on PCB assembly. This ranges from 10 to 20 percent.
The assembly of these local PCBs will begin at Taiwanese company Wistron’s new iPhone plant near Bengaluru. The move will also reduce dependency on China for component manufacturing. Trade with China has already taken a hit due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan which has already claimed over 200 lives in the country.
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Wistron announced its plans to invest Rs 3,000 crore in the Narasupra industrial sector in Karnataka back in 2017. The company started assembling the low-end iPhone SE first. Further, it gradually started manufacturing the iPhone 6S and later, the iPhone 7 last year. Apple’s other supplier Foxconn currently assembles iPhone XR models in India.
According to data provided by the India Cellular & Electronics Association, there are about 320 million PCBA units in operation right now. Further, 160 million of these are being used in smartphones. Some smartphone manufacturers also have surface-mount technology (SMT) assembly lines. SMTs help place components directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board.
Smartphone manufacturing in India
Many smartphone brands have targeted opening local manufacturing in India. These include the biggest mobile phone manufacturers Foxconn and Samsung. The brands are expanding outside their capabilities. This lets them serve Indian customers and also export outside the country. In September last year, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that even Apple started manufacturing phones in India including components.
“They have started making iPhones in India and also components both for exports. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I want a robust presence of Apple in India. A super robust presence of Samsung in India. Apple is also on board as far as the India story is concerned,” Prasad told media after a round table discussion with CEOs of global manufacturing companies.