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Made in India Smartphones – All You Need to Know

Updated – 22-June-2020 

Social media is abuzz with posts emphasizing to buy smartphones Made in India, or made by Indian brands like Xolo, Lava, Micromax, or Intex. Also, there is a rise in sentiments to Ban Chinese Products especially after the Corona pandemic and killing of Indian soldiers by Chinese in the Galwan valley.

Many people are urging others to buy only Indian brands or from Samsung/Apple. Additionally, people want to ban Chinese brands like Lenovo, Huawei, Oppo, Realme, Oneplus, Vivo, and Xiaomi.

Made in India Smartphones

But the questions I continue to ask myself is it possible to ban Chinese mobiles? Do we have 100% made in India smartphones?

Or is the expectation to have a 100% made in India smartphone incorrect? Further, What is the difference between a Made Vs Assembled in India mobiles?  

Also, are Indian brands like Micromax, Xolo, or Lava genuinely making phones in India? 

Check Out – Top 10 Made in India Smartphones Starting from Rs. 5000

Let me try to answer some of these questions and also give some suggestions on best made in India Phones?

But before that let me tell you about Indian, non-Chinese, and Chinese Mobile companies. 

Let me break down the Chinese Brands and Non-Chinese Brands that Sell Smartphones in India:

Chinese Smartphone Companies in India

  • Xiaomi Largest Chinese Mobile Brand in India
  • Oppo, Realme, and Oneplus – all are Chinese brands – BBQ electronics is the parent company.
  • Vivo, iQOO are other major Chinese brands in India. – BBQ electronics is the parent company.
  • Huawei is also from China.
  • Lenovo – A Chinese Company.
  • Motorola was earlier a US company, but now it is owned By Lenovo – a Chinese company.
  • Tecno – It is a subsidiary of Transsion’s Holding – A Chinese Company.
  • Infinix – It is also a subsidiary of Transsion’s Holding – Chinese Company.

Non-Chinese Mobile Companies in India

  • Samsung is from South Korea
  • Apple is from the US
  • Google is from the US
  • Sony is from Japan
  • HTC and Asus are from Taiwan
  • Nokia was earlier a Finnish mobile brand but now it is bought by HMD global (another Finnish company). However, the manufacturing of Nokia phones is done by Foxconn – a Taiwanese company.
  • Foxconn makes mobiles for many companies like Apple, Nokia, Xiaomi, and has manufacturing plants in China, India, Brazil, and other countries.

Top 10 Indian Mobile Companies (Made in India Mobiles) 

  • XOLO
  • LAVA
  • Micromax
  • Karbonn Mobile
  • Intex Technologies
  • Yu Televentures (Sub-Brand of Micromax)
  • Reliance JIO LYF Mobiles
  • iBall Mobiles
  • Spice Telecom
  • Swipe Mobiles
  • Celkon
  • Smartron

*Note – It is not necessary that Indian mobile companies are making phones in India. They also import parts/phones from China and other countries. Please read the full article to know more. 

Made in India Smartphones By Indian Mobile Brands – How Things Work?

Firstly, let’s understand how the Indian brands were manufacturing the phones before Xiaomi and other Chinese brands came. 

A couple of years back, Micromax launched a smartphone called Micromax Dual 5 in India, a copy of Qiku 360 Q5, a Chinese phone.  Another phone, Yu Yureka black, was a copy of Wiko U Feel Prime (another Chinese mobile).

In light of the above information: Are Micromax, or Intex, Lava, or Karbonn Manufacturing Mobiles in India? 

No, not really. They either assemble phones in India by importing most parts, or they straightaway buy the phones in bulk from China, rebrand them with their logo, and sell in India at a higher rate. 

The design is Chinese, the material is Chinese but the brand name is Indian.
Made in India Smartphones

Further, there are lots of ODMs in China (Original designer and Manufacturing companies) that make smartphones at their factories and give them to brands to relabel and sell.

Previously, Chinese ODM that used to make phones for Micromax in the past launched its own brand in India. The brand is called Topwise, and they launched the sub-brand Comio in India to sell phones.

Notably, Topwise will not make phones for Micromax henceforth but will sell its own label. 

Besides, Micromax was the number 2 smartphone brand in India with an 18% market share in 2014. Source – Smartphone Market Share in India By Candytech.

Currently, Micromax’s share in the smartphone market is less than 1%, and Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme are the top 3 players in the market. Nearly, 72% of the smartphones sold in India are from Chinese companies. 

A couple of years back, for Micromax and other Indian brands, the business was simple, get the Chinese phones in bulk at a low price, sell them in India and keep the margin.

Consequently, whether the Indian companies, import complete handsets or parts, China gets the monetary benefit.

Micromax and other Indian companies never invested much in software development or providing higher quality products with adequate after-sales service. 

The consumer experience was poor and when the Chinese companies came with affordable prices and better products, everyone jumped ship. 

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Unforeseeably, after 2013 a huge number of Chinese brands invaded India and Micromax, and other Indian brands started to lose the market share.

In-fact due to the hyper-competition in the Indian market from 2017 to 2019, even several Chinese manufacturers closed shop – LeeCo, Gionee, Meizu to name a few.

The government later realized that they should incentivize the making of mobiles in India and increased import duty on fully-assembled phones.  

Make In India Initiative

Notably, the government’s push for the “Make in India” initiative has paid some dividends in recent years.

As per a  report by Hindustan Times, there is a 373% increase in the value of smartphones made in India, from just Rs. 19,000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs. 90,000 crore in 2016-17. Tremendous growth and Flextronics ( the company that makes phones for Huawei, Lenovo, Motorola) at Chennai based plant can make 10 million smartphones a month, at their 100 Acre campus.

According to another report by Business Standard published in May 2017, only 2% of the value addition is done in India in mobile manufacturing. Also, under the Phased Manufacturing Program by the Ministry of Electronics, the plan is to increase this value addition to 10% in the next few years.

As of 2020, things have changed a lot but there is still lots to be done to realize the dream of Make in India.

Why Assemble or Make Phones in India?

Intex, Xolo, Lava, Micromax, and Karbonn followed a similar business model and earned profits in the past but are now struggling or closed shop. Now, the Chinese are selling the same phones directly to the Indian buyers at cheaper rates. It is more like cutting the middleman.    

Indian brands assemble phones in India. Notably, they don’t manufacture them. It is mostly an assembly of imported parts (PCB, Screen, body, etc.) from China and other countries like Taiwan. 

Also, You need to pay an import duty of 12.5% when you import a fully assembled phone from China. On the other hand, if you set up an assembly plant in an SEZ (Special economic zone); you get tax soaps from the Indian government and pay only 1% tax.

Most of all, it is considered as part of the Make in India campaign. So, most Indian, and Chinese brands have set up assembly units in India, including Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo. 

Vivo has a huge facility in Greater Noida to Assemble (Make) smartphones in India. Samsung too has a large facility in Noida where they even make PCBs and other essential components.

Samsung has recently (June 2020) said they will set-up a plant in Uttar Pradesh with an investment of 5000 crores to manufacture display panels in India. 

Foxconn has set up plants in Sri City (Chennai) to make phones for Xiaomi and other companies. 

Made in India Smartphones

 

Even, the iPhone and Samsung phones are not always fully made in India. The iPhone-SE is assembled in Bangalore in a plant set-up by Foxconn. 

However, there are many components imported from China and other countries.

Also, I created a list of Made in India Mobiles that you can check Below.

Made-in-India-Mobiles-1

 

It is not just mobiles, these Chinese companies are dominating the TV market, Earphones/Headphones, smartwatches, fitness bands, Toys and other tech products.

However, one thing I would like to clarify that some of the Chinese companies like Xiaomi and Vivo have assembly plants (owned by Foxconn) in India to make phones. These Foxconn factories employ thousands of Indians to assemble mobiles.

Xiaomi claims they employ 90% women workforce at their manufacturing facility. A social initiative or a cost-cutting measure, you are a better judge. 

Realme recently said they will hire up to 10,000 Indian workers at their Indian manufacturing plant and will have 50% of the components from India by the end of 2020.

Realme CEO, in order to curb the anti-China sentiment, recently (June 2020) claimed in a Video that they are an Indian start-up. 

Lastly, Oppo has a plant in Noida that also makes Realme mobiles.

But is it bad to assemble phones in India?

No, In fact, It is good for the economy, as there is employment generation, and it helps to create ancillary industries. Also, the local assembly attracts foreign investments. 

But the bottom line is still the same for many Chinese and Indian brands that import most of the parts from China. China has manufacturing plants for essential components such as processors, display panels, motherboards, ram, camera modules and other components.

The profits still go to China and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) from the Chinese mobile companies (corporate taxes), making them financially stronger. 

When you are buying Samsung or other non-Chinese phones made in India, it helps China probably a little less.  

Why India can’t manufacture Fully Made in India Mobiles?

Currently, We can’t make a Qualcomm or MediaTek processor in India, the investment required for such a plant is huge. Also, technological know-how is not there until unless the mighty United States starts knowledge transfer and start investing in India.

Further, to manufacture motherboard parts, there is also a requirement of mineral elements that may not be available in India in abundant quantities.

In the future, we may be able to do it but currently, it is not happening.

Also, there are huge semiconductor manufacturing units in China and Taiwan with cutting-edge R&D that is difficult to replicate in a short span of time, but it is not impossible.

Several other parts such as the display panels, camera modules, and motherboards are made in other countries and imported.

So, if we think there is a 100% made in India smartphone, then we need to get our facts right. However, there are many assembled in India phones available. 

Lastly, India has also started R&D and Design labs for creating the blueprints for new mobiles.

If we have the will to stand together, work hard and vision for a true made in India – Everything is possible.

What China has done in the last 2-3 decades we need a vision and an unwavering will to do it in India. But the global co-operation is essential for such a future. 

We already are doing great in software development, it is time we step up in manufacturing.  

5G Roll-out In India

Recently, Mr. Ambani said that JIO is trying to work on rolling out 5G in India and will not use Chinese components for developing the infrastructure.

Jio Phone was initially made in China and later on the plan was to make it in India. The 4G dongles for Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are mostly made by Huawei and ZTE, both Chinese brands. Notably, these are sold under the brand name of the Indian telecom operators.

There are a lot of similar examples of products brought from China and relabeled in India. 

The government of India is thinking of banning the purchase of telecom equipment (Market Size Over 12000 Crores) from Huawei and ZTE as these are closely related to the CCP. Also, will stop private operators like Airtel and Vodafone to buy from them.

As per a report by ET, written on 18th June 2020, there is no impact on the sales of Chinese products. Notably, Xiaomi sold its new Notebooks in just 5 minutes on Flipkart on 17th June.

How can we boost Local Manufacturing and Local Sales?

Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on 12th May 2020 emphasized boosting local manufacturing and “being vocal about local”. He has clearly asked Indian citizens to support Indian companies, start-ups, and local manufacturing.

We need large Indian conglomerates to start mobile units to match the Chinese companies. Also, we require global investment from large tech companies that manufacture displays, processors, and other essential components to give a strong push to local manufacturing.

Apple has recently announced that it will shift 20% of the iPhone production from China to India. These are positive steps for India and the growing concern for China will lead to more companies shifting base in the future.

We need to have more confidence in the Indian companies and support them full-heartedly so that they can rival global companies not only from China but from other nations as well.

On the other hand, Indian companies and start-ups will have to work hard to compete with global rivals to offer at par services at competitive prices to the Indian buyers. 

The old Micromax strategy is not going to work, the companies need to do a lot better to attract buyers.

Concluding Thoughts – Made in India Smartphones

Although Made in India initiative has helped the country a lot but there is still a long way to go. We don’t have to be impatient, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time but will happen.

From straightaway importing the smartphones from China, we have moved to import parts and assembling them in India.  

Noticeably, the government of India has recently raised the import duty on electronic devices. It will strengthen the made in India initiative, consequently, will create more jobs and help the economy.

We can’t expect 100% in-house manufacturing of a technology-driven industry to happen overnight. Boycotting Chinese products or not is people’s decision.

‘Made in India’ is a positive step by the center and state governments, and with time there is bound to be more progress.

It will bring more industries since India is one of the largest mobile markets in the world.

Also, when we start to manufacture in India and sell our own goods in our own shops that will lead to massive employment generation and put the money back in people’s pockets. 

In conclusion, we need to focus on “Make in India” by Indian companies to help the Indian economy in the long run.

Thanks for reading – drop a comment below to share your thoughts, I read and reply to all comments.

Top 10 Made in India Mobile Price List June 2020

S.R NoMobile Brand Price Available OnRating
1Lava Z70LavaRs. 7170Amazon6.2
2Samsung A10sSamsungRs. 9190Amazon7.9
3Nokia 3.2NokiaRs. 9899Flipkart8.1
4Samsung A31SamsungRs. 21999Amazon8.7
5Nokia 4.2NokiaRs. 12,895Amazon8
6Nokia 6.2 NokiaRs. 15,999Amazon8.4
7Samsung M30sSamsungRs. 12,999Amazon9.1
8Samsung A30sSamsungRs. 15,899Flipkart9.1
9Samsung M40SamsungRs. 17,499Amazon8.9
10Samsung A71SamsungRs. 32,999Amazon9.2
11Samsung Note 10 LiteSamsungRs. 41,999Amazon9.4

Must Check Out the Top 10 Made in India Mobiles That You can buy Currently:

Made-in-India-Mobiles-1

 

Read Next: Can We Ban Chinese Products in India?

Some FAQs 

Is Vivo, Xiaomi, Oppo, Oneplus, Realme Indian mobile brands?

No, Vivo, Oppo, Oneplus, Realme are Chinese smartphone manufacturers that make or assemble mobiles in India. These are sub-brands of the parent company BBK electronics that have headquarters in Dongguan, Guangdong, China.

Is Motorola a Chinese Company? 

Motorola was a US company that was acquired by Lenovo in 2014 and is now part of the Chinese company Lenovo. However, Motorola has management which is mostly from the US and the company makes phones in India. 

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Kanuj Sharma
Full-Time Blogger & Entrepreneur, Tech Enthusiast. A decade of experience in Telecom (Engineer & MBA) Read My Story,  Connect On Twitter, Linked-In, Youtube

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