Apple kicks off iPhone SE production in India

Apple has officially kicked off the initial production run of an unspecified “small number” of iPhone SE handsets in its Bangalore plant in India, marking the first time the company has assembled any iPhone model in the vast 1.33 billion people market.

As previously suspected, the manufacturing of the cheapest iPhone model was handled earlier this month by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron via its assembling unit located in Karnataka, a state in the south western region of India.

Apple confirmed in a statement that it has begun the initial production of a small number of iPhone SE handsets in Bangalore. The Cupertino company will begin shipping the devices to domestic customers later this month, with the first shipments potentially hitting retail stores as early as this week or next, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A state official with direct knowledge of the matter told the publication that the Cupertino giant “could seek more production” within the country in the future.

It’s unclear if Apple will reduce iPhone SE pricing in India to better compete with inexpensive smartphones from rivals. In India, according to Deutsche Bank’s annual “Mapping the World’s Prices” survey, the 128-gigabyte 4.7-inch iPhone 7 model costs about $900 versus an average selling price of $815 in the US.

iPhone SE costs $399 in the United States. By comparison, the current average going rate for iPhone SE in India is about $320. Some analysts think Apple should price the phone really aggressively were it to move a good number of these devices in the country.

“In three to five years, these users will be able to graduate to a standard-priced iPhone,” said Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst at research firm CMR.

According to IDC, the average smartphone price in India is about $250.

Local government officials reportedly believe Apple could sell iPhone SE in India for as low as the equivalent of $220 in Indian currency. Apple’s manufacturing partners assemble most of the iPhones the company sells in massive factories in China, with a smaller number of older iPhone models being manufactured in Foxconn’s facilities in Brazil.