For the first time, Apple builds current-gen flagship iPhone in India

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Foxconn moving additional iPhone production to India as coronavirus disrupts work
Apple is gradually scaling up its focus on Indian manufacturing.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

For the first time, Apple is manufacturing its current flagship iPhone in India, a Friday report from the Economic Times claims. The report says Foxconn is building the iPhone 11 at its plant near Chennai.

While many previous iPhones made in India have been manufactured for the local market, the story says Apple might export these devices internationally. Building some of its flagship iPhones in India would help lessen Apple’s reliance on China.

Apple started producing iPhones in India in 2017. It began with the iPhone SE, then expanded to the iPhone 6s and beyond. However, while the iPhone 6s is a former flagship device, Apple began manufacturing it in India after the iPhone 7’s launch.

Currently, Apple builds the overwhelming majority of iPhones in China. However, the company has for some time been looking to expand beyond China as a manufacturing base. For instance, Apple asked its supply chain partners to explore other international opportunities.

A recent report said Apple is looking to double down on Indian manufacturing. It claims that up to one-fifth of manufacturing could be moved to the country. Many of those handsets would then be exported. If today’s report is accurate — combined with another recent news piece about Apple supplier Pegatron joining the companies building factories in India — this suggests Apple’s plan is moving forward in a big way.

Apple’s iPhone 12 handsets are all being manufactured in China. That could change in the future, of course. But it shows that Apple still relies on China for building new flagship devices ahead of launch. If this iPhone 11 manufacturing goes well, Apple might be tempted to reconsider.