India

Apple supplier Wistron gains approval to build new factory in India

Apple is serious about expanding its presence in India

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A unit of Apple’s Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. has won approval from Karnataka State Government to build a new assembly facility, two officials said, signaling what could be a vital expansion of iPhone assembly work in India.

Wistron will reportedly invest INR 6.8 billion (US$ 105 million) on the land and facility, which will be used to produce smartphone as well as Internet of Things (IoT) products and biotech devices.


According to Reuters, the state government has approved Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd’s application for 43 acres of land, roughly 65km (40 miles) from the tech hub of Bengaluru.

The expansion of manufacturing facility could mean a widening of Apple’s iPhone assembly in India as the US tech giant has to pay steep duties on devices imported into the country. Apple has been trying to assemble its devices in India but has always found itself in some bureaucratic hurdle. Apple has been negotiating with the Indian government for lower tariffs on certain components, but the increased duties are still not in its favor.

Assembly of the iPhone SE at the Karnataka Wistron facility began in mid-May of 2017. The first iPhone SE models built in India by Wistron went on sale in various cities around the country in June, and are marked “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in India.” As far as sales channels are concerned, Apple has been planning to open flagship stores in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai soon.

The Indian Government has already hiked customs duty on imported mobile phones from 15 to 20 percent at the beginning of 2018. The increase in import duties is designed to promote local manufacturing. Companies like Samsung, Vivo, OPPO, Xiaomi, and BlackBerry are already assembling in India under the “Make in India” scheme.

Around 75 percent of all cellphones sold in India were assembled in the country in 2017, according to Tarun Pathak, an analyst at Counterpoint Research.

India

Realme X launches with pop-up selfie cam, better processor

Should Xiaomi be worried?

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Realme has been aggressive in launching new phones since its inception last year and is directly competing against Xiaomi. The brand has been teasing the launch of Realme X for quite some time and has finally launched it in India.

The phone has a premium design with curved edges and a glass-like plastic back panel. On the front is a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display and the notch has been replaced by a pop-up camera. The brand says it has a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent and features Gorilla Glass protection.


Powering the Realme X is an octa-core Snapdragon 710 chipset along with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage in the base variant. Expandable storage isn’t available, but the headphone jack has been retained. It runs on ColorOS 6 out of the box and features Dolby Atmos enhancement for better music output.

The rear sports a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor paired along with a 5-megapixel secondary camera. The front gets a 16-megapixel selfie shooter and Realme claims the pop-up takes just 0.74 seconds to completely slide out. The camera software comes with Chroma Boost, Nightscape, and a redesigned portrait mode to optimize pictures perfectly. Other standard features include beauty mode and AI-based picture improvement.

Backing these internals is a 3765mAh battery that supports VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 technology for faster charging.

The phone was first unveiled in China a couple of months back and shall be going up against Xiaomi’s soon-to-launch Redmi K20 Pro. Realme has also announced a special Spider-Man: Far From Home limited edition phone that features a unique design and user-interface, it’ll cost INR 20,999.

Lastly, the company will also be offering the Naoto Fukasawa collection with Garlic and Onion finishes that come in 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration at a price tag of INR 19,999.

The standard 4GB+128GB configuration costs INR 16,999 and the 8GB+128GB option is priced at INR 19,999. Sale starts from July via Flipkart and Realme online store.

 

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Accessories

Xiaomi launches affordable Mi Super Bass Wireless headphones

20 hours of non-stop playback

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Xiaomi is known for its feature-packed smartphones, but the brand has a massive presence in the lifestyle segment. For now, a lot of these products are limited to Mainland China, but the brand is slowly releasing them in its core markets like India.

Today, the Chinese company launched the Mi Super Bass Wireless headphones in India and they’re priced quite aggressively. This week is going to be even more exciting because the Redmi K20 Pro is scheduled to launch on July 17.


The headphones come with a 400mAh battery that Xiaomi claims can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. In simpler words, it is sufficient to listen to 300 songs in one go. Equipped with 40mm drivers, they are tuned to deliver high bass and pressure-less earmuffs provide a comfortable listening experience over extended periods. The head beam is adjustable and has elastic shafts to rotate the ear muffs.

Lastly, they connect to any smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0, offering wider range and capability to connect two headphones simultaneously to one phone. They can also be used along with a wire if you want truly acoustic output. Operations can be handled via voice commands thanks to an in-built mic and support for virtual assistants.

They’re priced at INR 2,199 (US$ 32) and can be purchased via Amazon.in. Prime Day sale is going on and they can be grabbed for just INR 1,799 (US$26). Color options include Black and Red, as well as Black and Gold.

Previously, Xiaomi has launched its range of smart TVs, air purifiers, and light bulb in India. A couple of weeks back, they also unveiled a trimmer. We expect the brand to launch more of these in the coming future as it slowly scales up operations.

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India

Apple may soon start selling top-end iPhones made in India

Hopefully, the iPhones get cheaper

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Apple has been trying to ramp up local production in India for years but has always hit a few roadblocks. In 2016, it finally started making the iPhone SE via its partner Wistron. They slowly expanded the facilities to make space for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 last year.

A new report by Reuters suggests new top-end iPhones that are assembled in India could hit stores as soon as next month. The Cupertino giant has also partnered with Foxconn in the country and their facility is located in the state of Tamil Nadu.


Local sourcing of iPhones will help the brand bypass import duty on fully-built devices as well as meet local regulations for opening its first-hand retail stores in the country. The Indian government currently levies 20 percent import duty on finished devices and this makes the iPhone quite costly in the country right now.

We expect the prices of iPhone XR and XS to go down marginally after production has leveled up to the demand. Currently, every major smartphone brand has local facilities in the country to avoid import duty. Samsung has successfully kept the prices of its flagship phones on par with international rates because of this.

Apple has taken a massive beating in India and its market share is now lesser than one percent. Competition from OnePlus, Samsung, and even Huawei has decimated the giant. Even though it enjoys the widest brand recognition, extremely high prices are a huge hurdle.

The government also plans to make the country a hub for smartphone manufacturing. In fact, Xiaomi has also started sourcing components like PCBs and displays locally. This further gives the brand an edge in avoiding import duty on individual components.

With the ongoing trade war between the US and China, India could very well take advantage and become a secondary smartphone-making hub of the world.

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