Electronic System Design and Manufacturing Sector – M-SIPS, National Policy on Electronics, etc.

India vs. China in Smartphone Manufacturing


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India vs. China in smartphone manufacturing

china mobile

Central Idea

  • India’s smartphone manufacturing industry has reached a noteworthy milestone with the production and launch of the iPhone 15.
  • This development raises the question of whether India is on the path to becoming a rival to China in smartphone manufacturing.
  • While India has made substantial progress, certain factors still set it apart from China.

Why discuss this?

  • India has become the second largest mobile-producing nation as locally made mobile phone shipments crossed the 2 billion cumulative mark in the 2014-2022 period, registering a 23% growth compounded annually, according to a new report.
  • The ramp up in local manufacturing came on the back of huge internal demand, increasing digital literacy, and government push.

A Shift in iPhone Manufacturing

(1) Historical Context:

  • iPhones have been assembled in India since 2017.
  • Previously, India’s assembly lines lagged behind global launches.

(2) The iPhone Breakthrough:

  • India’s Foxconn plant in Chennai produced the iPhone 15 a month before its global launch.
  • This signifies India’s transition into a parallel manufacturing market alongside China.

Comparing India and China

(1) Not Yet Equals:

  • India’s achievement is commendable, but it hasn’t completely caught up with China.
  • Base iPhone 15 assembly takes place in India, while Pro iPhones are still produced elsewhere.
  • Established supply chains in China pose a challenge for India.

(2) The Challenge of Supply Chains:

  • Supply chain operations in India aren’t as seamless as in China.
  • Bridging this gap is expected to take at least two more years.

Understanding Smartphone Manufacturing in India

(1) High-Level Assembly:

  • Key components like cameras, displays, and chips are imported.
  • India primarily serves as a high-level assembly destination.
  • In contrast, China’s fabs (chip and display plants) provide a manufacturing advantage.

(2) Skill Development:

  • Smartphone manufacturing has become highly automated.
  • India’s workforce is being upskilled to operate sophisticated assembly lines.
  • Supply chain considerations impact Apple’s decision to not assemble Pro iPhones in India.

Pricing Dynamics and Future Prospects

(1) Pricing Paradox:

  • India isn’t inherently a cheaper manufacturing destination compared to China.
  • Apple’s iPhone sales in India are growing, potentially by nearly 40%.
  • Apple doesn’t need to lower prices due to continued growth.

(2) Potential Price Revisions:

  • India experiences a pricing disparity compared to the US and UAE.
  • Price revisions may become necessary once iPhone shipments exceed 10 million units annually.

India’s lacunae

(1) High-End Manufacturing:

  • India aspires to host high-end smartphone and electronics manufacturing.
  • However, this goal is distant due to the country’s limited volume in this segment.
  • To make this transition viable, firms would need to export around 500 million units annually, a target that seems distant.

(2) Semiconductor Fabrication:

  • Semiconductor fabrication, a critical aspect of electronics manufacturing, remains outside India’s grasp.
  • Moving semiconductor fabrication to India isn’t currently feasible for companies due to the lack of scale and infrastructure.


  • India’s ascent in smartphone manufacturing, exemplified by the production of the iPhone 15, is a significant achievement.
  • While challenges remain, such as supply chain scale and workforce upskilling, India’s progress underscores its potential to compete with China in the future.
  • As smartphone sales continue to surge, pricing dynamics and local manufacturing may undergo further transformations, benefiting both the industry and consumers.

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