It is known that Apple keeps its older models and iPhone designs to complete the entry level of its product portfolio, but this is becoming a bit ridiculous. The iPhone 6S, now in its fourth year of existence, is the subject of a new marketing campaign in India, where its local manufacturing is prominently advertised. With India in the midst of a controversial general election and concerns about nationalism prominent in the minds of many people, the generally benign phrase "made in India" is taking on a stronger meaning and tone.
The decision to produce iPhones in India was driven by a nationalist act: Apple started manufacturing the iPhone SE in India in 2017, and last year, it added the iPhone 6S due to an increase in government import tariffs from the country. India had another rate increase in October last year, supporting a "Make in India" initiative led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Apple, at least in part, responded in the way that Modi wanted, developing its manufacturing base and recognizing that it needs to have a foothold in such a large and growing market as India.
This is the same objective as the Trump administration pursues its escalation of trade tensions with China. However, Chinese companies have not shown any increase in appetite for bringing additional manufacturing to the United States; in any case, they have been scared to invest more in the country.
More than the manufacturing location, Apple's biggest challenge when it comes to securing a large portion of India's smartphone market is that it simply does not. have compelling budget devices. Its most popular iPhone in India in 2018 was the iPhone 6, and both the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6S are years old. The cheap alternatives of Android keep sprouting every day (the example of today is Realme X), with screens without bevel, more RAM and storage, and, increasingly, better cameras too. For Apple to be a leader in India, it must start manufacturing its top-level devices locally, develop customized budget models or, most likely, do both at the same time.