Is it Worth Buying an iPhone in India?

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(Last Updated On: October 7, 2019)

Apple Inc. came into the limelight for Indians with Steve Jobs introduced the world to iPhone. Although it was launched in an already maturing smartphone market, the device was considered revolutionary. It was the world’s first true touchscreen phone. Till then, a couple of devices did allow touch functionalities with a stylus but iPhone really changed the world of smartphones.

The company only entered India in 2011, with iPhone 4 and instantly became the go-to brand for the status conscious! Unfortunately, it never really achieved the kind of mass popularity that other brands, like Samsung and now Xiaomi, have. In fact, in recent times, while most of its competitors have been reporting growth, Apple is facing declines. In the first quarter of 2019, the sales of iPhone slipped 40%, as compared to the same period in 2018, says an article on Dazeinfo.

Although Apple has slashed the prices of many of its models, their shipments continued to decline in 2019, with only a total of 32.4 million phones being shipped to India in the second quarter. But Apple isn’t only about the iPhone, it also about Mac devices, iPad and the Apple watch. So, how is Apple faring in India?

Apple Products are Expensive in India

Compared to products with similar specs from competitor brands, Apple’s products stand apart in being in a totally different price bracket. Here’s why: 

  • Duties
    The Indian government has been focused on forcing foreign companies to manufacture in India itself if they want to enjoy the vast market the nation has to offer. However, Apple’s products are still imported for sale in India. Therefore, to promote “Make in India” and discourage imports, the Indian government has increased import duties on electronics and accessories. Therefore, Apple has to pay heavy import duty, which is then passed on to the customer.
  • GST
    With the introduction of GST, the tax percentage on electronics and accessories has increased to 18%-28%. Although it does not make any difference to the price of the iPhone, a customer will definitely make an overall consideration before making a purchase.
  • Forex Losses
    Apart from import duties, forex losses come to the forefront as the currency rate fluctuates. These losses are mostly borne by the companies. However, with Apple, the case is completely different. The company maintains a strict margin. The Indian rupee has been falling against the US dollar in recent times, which has had a significant impact on product prices.
  • Ad Costs
    India’s massive population and purchasing power result in aggressive marketing wars between brands. Buying a full front page ad of a newspaper or taking a major portion of TV time for advertisements are major costs that are ultimately dumped on the customer. iPhone XR, which is supposed to be cheaper than its predecessor, has now become one of the most expensive phones in India.

Apple Cannot Match up to Android

Apple and Android are constantly fighting neck to neck on everything they produce – smartphones, laptops, apps, software and more. Android has been in a win-win situation in the Indian market. Here are the major reasons why. 

  1. Popularity Issue
    Android products are definitely more popular in India because of the vast price range. A country where the economy is still developing, Apple products are mostly out of the budget of a majority of the people. No wonder the company sells only 2.5% of its smartphones in India, says an article on CNBC.com. Android has significantly lower prices, which falls within the budget of the common man and appeals to the Indian market.
  2. Compatibility Issues
    Android has great compatibility with other devices. Transferring data or syncing devices is not a big deal. A speaker powered by Google and a Samsung smartphone can work together with ease. Different Android devices use the same accessories too, such as USBs, chargers and so on. However, this flexibility is not offered by iOS. It does not open up to third party devices and mostly comes across as a closed mobile platform.
  3. The OS factor
    The best part about Android is that the operating system is used by multiple brands, making it easier for people to switch devices, without needing to learn a whole new way of operating the device. On the contrary, iOS is restricted to Apple products only. Several mobile operating systems have tried over the years to compete with Android and iOS and when they were unable to gain a strong base, they eventually moved to Android.
  4. Choice and Variety
    There is no denying that Android devices are in plenty! There is a wide variety of smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., that offer something for every type of user and budget. Also, each new model comes with new features and interesting experimentations. Apple, on the other hand, has taken a backseat in innovation. It has a particular number of models that are released every year, without much difference in the overall look or features. In case you don’t like the iPad or iPhone released this year, you’ll need to wait for next year for the new models.
  5. App problem
    iOS is an operating system that has been designed to work well on phones. Users do not have to struggle with complex settings and endless features. However, it looks basic and unappealing on a big screen – say an iPad. If you want to edit a video on iPad, the quality will be basic, without great file management. This is never the case with Android. It is easy to develop apps, which run brilliantly on a wide range of screen sizes.
  6. Storage issue
    With iPhone, you have to settle with the storage capacity the device offers. However, with Android, you can use the micro SD slots to install more memory.
  7. Photos issue
    Android stores screenshots, downloads and pictures in separate folders. When connected to a device, these folders become visible, for easy detection of files. With iPhone, this isn’t the case. It stores all the pictures in one Camera Roll and makes it difficult to find specific files. 
  8. Battery backup
    Battery backup is a major complaint for Apple users. Apple squeezes out most of the charge, even with the minimum usage. However, Android devices are great in terms of battery life. You don’t even need fast charging adapters bought separately, unlike iPhones. In Android, you can replace the battery in case it is facing issues. This is not possible for iPhone.
  9. Voice control
    Although Android initially lacked a few software perks that Apple offered in terms of features, like Siri, the virtual assistant, Android has caught up very quickly. Google Assistant and its voice controlled features are a major hit now!
  10. Customization
    Lastly, customization of devices is Android’s major strength. You can easily set the layout, widgets, shortcuts and even change the entire interface. The same level of flexibility is not offered by Apple. You can set backgrounds but the widget support is limited.

Having said all that, there is another side to this picture. 

It’s an iPhone!

There must be some reason why Apple has been so successful, right? It has always been a debatable question whether to choose Apple or Android. So what does Apple do better than everyone else? 

  1. Apple products are less in number than Android products.
    This makes the decision making process simple. Many Indian users might not be very tech savvy, although that is changing over time. Choosing from 50 different models of the same Android device, comparing features and specs, can be confusing. Apple only has a single product in each category, with multiple versions of course. This seems to be well appreciated by the consumer, given its huge sales figures.
  2. Macbooks are much better than PCs, in the sense that they are way cheaper in the long run.
    The price of your three-year-old PC will be higher than that of your three-year-old Macbook. Also, Microsoft makes too many assumptions and loves to stay one step ahead, which becomes annoying at some point. For example, if you press ‘1’, the next paragraph automatically begins with ‘2’, even if you don’t want it to. So, we end up fixing many presumptions of the software, rather than benefitting from them. With iOS, this is never the case.
  3. Although Google Play Store has a higher number of apps than Apple’s App Store, the best mobile game apps are launched in iOS first.
    Also, other new apps appear on iOS first. Although Android (2.7 million) is ahead of iOS (2.2 million) in terms of the number of apps, quality is better than quantity, right? So, it is a narrow win for Apple.
  4. Apple is also ahead of Android in terms of updates.
    Almost 90% of all iOS devices are operating on the latest version. In comparison, only 10% Android devices are running on their latest updates. If you are tech savvy and want the latest bug fixes, updates and features as soon as they hit the market, iOS would be great for you. 
  5. A lot of Android phones come with their personal messaging and calling apps, besides Google’s apps.
    This makes the process a little confusing. In Apple, FaceTime and iMessage come pre-installed in all devices, so it makes connecting with friends and family much easier. iOS here wins over Android for its consistency in maintaining ease of use in its products.

Technically speaking, iOS offers a uniform experience across devices, while Android is focused on innovation for the masses. In India, Apple is a brand that has become synonymous with social status. If you wield an Apple device, you are automatically making a personal statement. At the end of the day, the choice we make has as much to do with the specs and features of a device, as it has to do with our emotions!

In my pursuit to happiness, I share everything I learn on this blog. From productivity to personal finance, spirituality and everything in between.