While Apple Inc is yet to set up manufacturing facilities in India, its iPhone SE could nonetheless soon sport a 'Made in India' tag after Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron recently conducted a trial run at its iPhone plant in Bengaluru.
The iPhone SE devices produced during the trial run will make their way to the market within the next two weeks, although full-scale production will take more time, reports on Wednesday said.
"We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru. iPhone SE is the most popular and powerful phone with a four-inch display in the world and we'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month," Apple said in an email statement.
Apple's production of iPhones in India comes a year after chief executive Tim Cook visited India and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with other officials to discuss local manufacturing of iPhones.
The government has turned down Apple's demands for tax concessions as well as relaxing of local sourcing rules to manufacture iPhones in the country for the export market, but India's smartphone market, perhaps the fastest-growing in the world, means the company has to produce devices locally, particularly given the country's high import duties.
India has become a major focus for Apple, which is witnessing a drop in sales of iPhones in developed markets such as the US and China. Since the country's appetite for expensive flagship devices is still small, Apple continues to produce the iPhone 5s to compete with the likes of Samsung and a host of others in the mid-level market.
"We set a new March-quarter record for India, where revenues grew to strong double digits. We continue to strengthen our local presence across the entire ecosystem, and we're very optimistic about our future in this remarkable country with its very large, young, and tech-savvy population," Cook said in the company's most recent earnings call with analysts.
At the entry level, an iPhone SE handset officially costs Rs27,200 in India but is available for as low as Rs20,999 on ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart.
Experts say that manufacturers who assemble devices locally are able to make about 12 per cent savings. However, Apple is known to maintain price parity among devices it sells globally. In the US, the iPhone SE range starts at a price of $399 (Rs25,500).