The iPhone 15 is expected to be an incremental upgrade over its predecessor and hence, Apple expects it to sell in truckloads. Forget about all of the exciting new features Apple has in store for the iPhone 15, the USB-C port alone is expected to encourage existing iPhone users to upgrade to the new model and, perhaps more significantly, tempt Android users to switch in masses.
So far, the responsibility of supplying the world with the latest and greatest iPhones has always fallen over to China’s shoulders, where Foxconn, Apple’s largest contract manufacturer, has set up its manufacturing plants. With the iPhone 15, however, India is playing a more significant role by getting models manufactured at the Foxconn Chennai plant.
India has been manufacturing some of the older iPhone models for its local markets for years but the yield has been in limited numbers. Based on reports, Foxconn is allegedly shifting some of the manufacturing loads from China to India to better manage the global demand for the newest iPhones. The process, in fact, has already begun with Foxconn’s Chennai plant manufacturing the first batches of the upcoming iPhone 15 models.
Hence, if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem and the iPhone 15, here’s everything you need to know about Foxconn, its Chennai plant and its production plans.
Why is Foxconn crucial to Apple?
Foxconn is the global arm of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., a Taiwan-based electronics contract manufacturer. Unlike Samsung and Oppo which have set up manufacturing units across several markets, brands like Apple and Google rely on contract manufacturers to get their products out in the market. In Apple’s case, Foxconn is one of the many contractors that manufacture its popular iPhones once Apple finishes the R&D.
Foxconn has largely been manufacturing in China primarily due to the country’s cheap labour costs. However, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, it has been difficult for Foxconn to manage a steady supply of iPhones to meet global demands. The Chinese administration has been strict with lockdowns in most regions and that has affected the global supply chain.
For example, last year’s iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max were plagued with low supplies around the globe, primarily due to the supply chain restrictions in China. It took Apple and Foxconn at least four months to sort out the supply chain issues and meet the customers’ increasing demand.
Why is Foxconn shifting its manufacturing base to Chennai?
Foxconn has had a manufacturing plant in Chennai for years and it has been quite active as well, manufacturing some of Apple’s older iPhone models for the local markets. Although Wistron (now owned by the business conglomerate the Tata Group) and Pegatron have also been making limited units of iPhones, Foxconn took the lead in 2021 and started manufacturing the iPhone 13 and 14 alongside China’s supply. While the volume was limited, this move was part of a larger plan to shift a majority of its production to India.
Compared to China, the manufacturing scene in India is relatively relaxed. The pandemic restrictions are usually not applicable to the manufacturing sector (at least not as strictly as other sectors) and over the last year, supply has been steady for the standard iPhone 14 from India. The authorities have also been welcoming local manufacturing from global brands via tie-ups or joint ventures, giving them tax benefits in return. This, as you can imagine, is a big deal for Apple and Foxconn as it helps them reduce their manufacturing costs. Additionally, the US-China political tensions also make it a good time to shift base to India. Currently, a total of 7 per cent of the world’s iPhones are being manufactured in India, a number that is only going to increase in the years to come.
With Foxconn’s Chennai plant beginning production of the iPhone 15, Apple can now expect Foxconn India to ensure a steady supply of its vanilla iPhone across the globe, even if Foxconn’s China units are unable to meet the demands.
Why is the iPhone 15 such a big deal?
Unlike its predecessors, the iPhone 15 is expected to bring major upgrades that could improve the user experience substantially. Thanks to the EU’s intervention, Apple is now forced to introduce the USB-C charging port to the iPhone, thereby enhancing its compatibility with widely used USB-C wired chargers and allowing for easy data transfer.
Other than the USB-C port, the iPhone 15 will also ditch the legendary display notch in favour of the trendy ‘Dynamic Island’. The iPhone 15 is also speculated to have a larger capacity battery, a larger 48-megapixel sensor with 2x digital zoom and the newer and mildly faster A16 Bionic chipset under the hood. What’s not to love?
Hero and Featured Image: Courtesy Samuel Angor via Unsplash (Representational Image)
This story first appeared on Augustman India.