Apple wants iPhone 16 batteries to come from India, not China

Enlarge / The iPhone 15 is manufactured both in China and India.

Apple

Apple wants batteries for its latest generation of iPhones to be made in India, as part of the US tech giant’s efforts to diversify its global supply chain and move manufacturing out of China.

The world’s most valuable company has informed component suppliers of its preference to source batteries for the forthcoming iPhone 16 from Indian factories, according to two people close to Apple.

Battery manufacturers, such as Desay of China, have been encouraged to establish new factories in India, while Simplo Technology, a Taiwanese battery supplier for Apple, has been asked to scale up production in India for future orders, said three people familiar with the situation.

“If all goes well with iPhone 16 battery supply, Apple plans to move more iPhone battery production to India,” said one of the people close to the company.

Separately, an Indian government minister this week said TDK, a Japanese supplier for Apple, was setting up a 180-acre facility in Manesar in the state of Haryana to build battery cells that would be used in Indian-made iPhones. In a post on X, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and IT, congratulated Apple, TDK, and local officials for enabling the government’s “goal of deepening [the] electronics manufacturing ecosystem in India.”

TDK said that “it has begun construction of a plant in India for part of the battery production” and has plans to begin in 2025.

Companies such as Desay and Simplo package the electric cells produced by TDK and their counterparts into modules and send them to assemblers such as Foxconn.

Apple has been trying to unwind its years-long dependence on China for its manufacturing and supply chains, amid growing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

In recent months, the iPhone maker has steadily sought to increase production in Vietnam and India but has struggled to replicate the scale, speed, and, in some cases, quality of its Chinese operations.

The latest push to source batteries outside China aligns with the Narendra Modi government’s “Make in India” manufacturing drive, extending incentives to companies willing to invest in mobile phones, batteries, and other targeted sectors.

Apple made its latest iPhone 15 in India and China at plants run by Taiwanese contract manufacturers Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron, which is selling its mobile phone plant outside Bengaluru to India’s Tata.

Foxconn, Apple’s biggest supplier, plans to invest more than $1.5 billion for a new production facility in India, according to a recent company announcement.

Industry experts and local officials said Apple’s suppliers still faced hurdles in building up production in India.

The country in 2020 implemented stricter regulations on foreign investment from countries with which it shares a border, following deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in and around the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. As part of that policy, foreign investment from these countries must first receive approval from the central government.

India is seeking foreign investment to bolster its economy and compete in sectors such as electric vehicles and semiconductors. However, its efforts to attract funding from abroad for industries such as electronics clash with its tougher stance on China.

India has over the past year given permission to Apple’s Chinese component suppliers to set up operations only after they secured local joint venture partners.

Foxconn’s Chinese rival Luxshare failed to secure Indian government approval for an expansion plan, according to one local official, and instead announced a $330 million expansion in Vietnam.

Shenzhen-based battery-maker Sunwoda runs a factory in Uttar Pradesh outside Delhi that supplies batteries for Apple, which was established before the government introduced the restrictions on Chinese investment.

Desay, a Chinese company that has been supplying iPhone batteries for years, may face obstacles when seeking to establish new facilities in India, according to local officials and industry insiders.

“We have heard about Desay [expansion in India], but I don’t think that is happening. The Chinese are having a problem,” said a local official who asked not to be named.

Ivan Lam, an analyst at Counterpoint, said being able to build factories in India earlier was “an advantage” for battery manufacturers. “If the quality is satisfactory, Apple prefers those who have factories in India,” he added.

Apple, Desay, Simplo, and Luxshare did not respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Michael Acton in San Francisco and David Keohane in Tokyo

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