India has become Apple’s test bed for emerging markets, with the company rolling out a series of discounts and payment plans in order to entice purchases and improve its market standing in the 1.24 billion people market.

These efforts are paying off as iPhone sales have risen 400 percent over the past four months.

That’s a dramatic increase over prior iPhone numbers in India, where sales only reached a meager 70,000 to 80,000 handsets a month. The key to such a notable jump: Apple has “figured out” the Indian market, which until now has viewed the iPhone as out of the reach of most of that nation’s consumers…

India’s Economic Times writes:

The Cupertino-based company has managed to dramatically push up its sales by figuring out trends of consumer demand and changing the iPhone’s perception from being a high-end product to an affordable one.

Apple’s iPhone now has around three percent of India’s smartphone market, estimates investment firm Credit Suisse. Among the tactics Apple employed in enticing a market accustomed to purchasing inexpensive feature phones: heightened advertising, time payment plans and handset discounts.

An installment plan allows India consumers to purchase an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S using a down payment then paying the rest over the next six or twelve months, similar to T-Mobile’s Uncarrier strategy with the iPhone 5.

And in April, Apple announced an 18 percent discount on the iPhone 4, creating an “effective discount of 23 to 27 percent, making the handset more attractive for first-time smartphone buyers,”  writes AppleInsider.

Earlier this month, the company also unveiled rebates on trade-ins. For instance, students could get a $134 rebate off some iPhones.

Today’s Credit Suisse report echos a February IDC announcement estimating Apple sales to India shot up by 400 percent.

The bigger question to ask is whether these new sales tactics are a sign of things to come from Tim Cook’s Apple or is the company merely responding to the onslaught of Android cheapos.

Whatever the case, the results prove that price is the key factor in emerging markets such as Brazil, India and China, where the firm is widely rumored to launch a less-pricey iPhone model.