Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) Taiwan-based manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has started to assemble the iPhone XR in India at a time when Apple plans to make the South Asian country one of its global production hubs, according to Indian news outlet ET Telecom.com.
A report dated Tuesday cited anonymous sources close to the matter as saying that Hon Hai, known as Foxconn in the global market, has just begun mass assembly of the iPhone XR, a more affordable model that Apple unveiled in September 2018, at its production complex near Chennai after several weeks of trials.
The production of the iPhone XR is paving the way for Apple to make the newest iPhones -- the iPhone 11 series -- which hit the global market in September, in India, which reflects "a move up the manufacturing value chain in India" by the U.S. consumer electronics giant, the sources said.
Hon Hai was not immediately available for comment on the report.
"Making the iPhone XR involves a higher level of technical skill, the sources said. Apple will export the devices to other markets after having tested the waters with export of the iPhone 6s and 7 models to Europe in the past few months," the report said.
The sources said that although Apple is expected to save about 20 percent in import duty through local manufacturing of the iPhone XR, the production in India is unlikely lead to a drop in iPhone prices, since Apple has not marked down prices on any of its locally made iPhones.
In early September, the Times of India reported that Apple is planning to partner with Hon Hai to invest about US$1 billion in India, a decision that came amid a trade war between China and United States that has driven companies with manufacturing bases in China to look elsewhere.
Many of Hon Hai's suppliers are planning to set up production bases in Chennai, which will form a comprehensive supply chain.
Until 2015, the report said, Apple's contract makers had no assembly plants in India. But as of 2019, three assembly plants have become operational, including the Hon Hai one in Chennai.
Wistron Corp. of Taiwan is assembling iPhones at its plant in Bangalore, so the Hon Hai investment will be an expansion of the iPhone manufacturing lines in India, the report said.
The Wistron factory in India started to roll out iPhone 6s last year and began assembling the iPhone 7 this year. Apple has started to sell both models in the European market, the report added.
On a list of Apple's major suppliers released in March, several Hon Hai subsidiaries were among the top 200, including those in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Fort Worth, Texas; Bac Giang, Vietnam; Tainan, Taiwan; and Tamil Nadu, India, along with its units located in China.