Wistron's new plant in India plans to begin assembling printed circuit boards (PCBs) for iPhones, a first for the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that will save Apple having to pay import taxes on the vital smartphone component.
Reuters reports that the PCB assembly will take place in Wistron's new iPhone plant, which is about 40 miles outside of Bengaluru, when it becomes operational by April. Wistron's other plant, located in central Bengaluru, has been pumping out iPhone SE, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 models since 2017.
A PCB serves as a bed for key iPhone components like processors, storage, and memory, and usually accounts for about half the cost of a smartphone.
That makes PCB assembly in the country a major boon for Apple, as it avoids taxes levied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to boost local manufacturing and create new jobs. On Saturday, India's federal budget revealed that the country will begin taxing imports of populated PCBs at 20 percent from April, up from the previous rate of 10 percent.
Wistron's larger rival, Foxconn, which began making iPhone XR models in India last year, already assembles PCBs locally. India is still largely dependent on China for supplies of other smartphone parts like display panels and camera modules.
The positive move by Wistron comes as Apple starts ramping up efforts to bring online and in-store sales to customers in India for the first time.
Up until recently, Apple device sales in India had to be done through third-party retailers, as Apple didn't have permission to sell devices in the country due to foreign investment rules and regulations.
However, in August 2019, India eased its rules and Apple now plans to open an online Apple Store in India to start official online sales of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more in the country starting in the third quarter of 2020.