Half of iPhones could be made in India by 2027

January 20, 2023

A selection o MIM parts are produced for smart phones (Image PIM International)
A selection o MIM parts are produced for smart phones (Image PIM International)

Half of all iPhones could be manufactured in India by 2027, progressing Apple’s move away from its reliance on a single-country supply that had already seen forecasters predict India would be building 25% of iPhones by 2025. According to a report on 9to5mac.com, which draws on sources including the South China Morning Post, Chinese suppliers are already being impacted by Apple’s efforts to remove production dependence on China. In addition to India, Vietnam is also expected to see benefits from this move.

By focusing its manufacturing in one area, Apple had left itself open to significant supply chain and manufacturing disruption; recent COVID-19-related delays at the world’s biggest iPhone assembly plant were estimated to have cost the company a billion dollars per week.

India has now been established as Apple’s second-largest iPhone production centre, with simultaneous production originally planned to begin in China and India for the iPhone 14. Delays resulted in Indian production starting in September, but simultaneous production is expected to begin for the iPhone 15 later this year.

Some Indian companies already manufacture Apple components through Taiwanese partners, however India is hoping to diversify its electronics industry. Already, around fourteen Chinese suppliers of Apple products are reported to have received initial clearance to expand into India, though it is believed that these permits haven’t yet been made public. These clearances are expected to lead to opportunities for Indian companies under a possible joint venture requirement by Indian ministries.

Smartphones rely on Metal Injection Moulding for a number of key components. Around half of global Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) production, about $1.5 billion, comes from China and Taiwan, with the latter accounting for around $300 million of sales. In China in 2021 it was estimated that smartphone parts made up the majority of applications, with 56% of sales, followed by wearable electronics such as smartwatches at 12% and computer components at 8%. In all, more than 75% of all MIM applications were for me consumer electronics industry, with Apple understood to be the largest consumer of MIM parts for smartphones.

In 2022, India saw a fairly even split across the various MIM application fields, with electronics holding a market share of 30% followed by transportation and other industries at 25% each, and industrial at 20%. Total Indian MIM sales in 2022 were estimated at $300 million.

The continued use of MIM in the smartphone sector as a whole is, of course, subject to the design of the phone. For example, Apple has abandoned the lightning connector and will use USB-C in future models, a move which will in time result in the loss of this high-volume MIM part. This may be matched, however, by the growing use of MIM components elsewhere in smartphones, as well as further applications in tablets, laptops, smartwatches, headphones and headphone cases.

For a more detailed look at the state of the world’s MIM industry, take a look at ‘Global MIM Markets’ in the Winter edition of PIM International, Vol. 16 No 4. The article is available to read in full as a pdf.

A selection o MIM parts are produced for smart phones (Image PIM International)

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