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Apple doubled iPhone sales in India during Q4

Statistics from research firms Counterpoint and CyberMedia point to a year-on-year doubling of Apple's iPhone business in India for the fourth quarter of 2020, though the figure sits at a comparatively paltry 1.5 million units.

Strong sales of older (read cheaper) models like iPhone 11, iPhone XR and iPhone SE coupled with high interest in the new iPhone 12 to deliver Apple's best quarter ever in India, according data reviewed by TechCrunch. Overall iPhone sales doubled to give the tech giant 4% of the market in quarter four, while cumulative 2020 sales soared 60% at more than 3.2 million units.

Despite rocketing past previous metrics, Apple is not a major player in the region due to its high-priced hardware. The company is working to gain a foothold in the world's fastest growing smartphone market by carrying over older models and building certain devices in-country. Apple also charges less for premium subscription services like Apple Music.

Partner suppliers are setting up shop in India to avoid heavy duties applied on imported electronics. Wistron, which recently saw an employee riot break out at its factory in Narasapura, assembles iPhone 7 and second-generation iPhone SE units. Foxconn and Pegatron are also poised to invest in Indian smartphone production facilities that could one day act as major hardware export hubs.

It should be noted that market research firms have questionable track records when it comes to estimating Apple unit sales. Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook, have in the past rebutted quarterly forecasts, implying they are largely inaccurate.

Apple heightened brand visibility in India last year with the launch of the online Apple Store, a move to be followed by a brick-and-mortar presence in 2021.

India could be a topic of conversation on Wednesday when Cook and CFO Luca Maestri discuss what is expected to be a blowout first fiscal quarter of 2021. AppleInsider will offer live coverage of the quarterly conference call starting at 2 p.m. Pacific, 5 p.m. Eastern.