Apple begins manufacturing the iPhone 13 in India

The move could help Apple stay competitive in an important market.

Debarchan Chatterjee/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple has started manufacturing one of its latest phones in India. Reuters reports the tech firm has begun producing iPhone 13 units in the country. While Apple didn't say which factory was responsible, a Reuters source claimed a Foxconn plant in the Tamil Nadu town of Sriperumbudur would assemble devices.

This is the fourth iPhone Apple has built in India. The company started domestic production in 2017 with the original iPhone SE.

The decision isn't surprising. The Indian government has used multiple tools to pressure companies into manufacturing locally, including investment rules that require local sourcing for 30 percent of parts. Rising import duties have also played a role. If Apple didn't make the iPhone 13 locally, the device might be prohibitively expensive compared to rival equivalents made within India's borders.

Apple has also been diversifying its production away from China to avoid trade disputes and other issues that might come with a heavy reliance on that country. Indian production could help Apple weather temporary disruptions at Chinese plants. The company was also reportedly set to move some AirPod and MacBook manufacturing to Vietnam, although Nikkei claimed the pandemic delayed those plans.

The expansion also comes despite labor trouble in India. Rioting erupted at Wistron's iPhone plant in the Narasapura industrial area in late 2020 as workers complained about unpaid wages, excessive hours and rough working conditions. Apple put Wistron on probation until the contractor addressed the issues, but it's safe to say the crisis wasn't going to help Apple's manufacturing expansion in the country.