If you unclip the back of your new Samsung smartphone, or one from a homegrown brand like Karbonn, Lava or Intex, you might find a 'Made in India' sticker there. And chances are that the device has been assembled in the Noida-Greater Noida region at Delhi's doorstep.
Ever since the Centre introduced a 10.5% duty differential between imported devices and those made locally in last year's Budget, the region has become India's biggest smartphone hub, with a capacity to make more than 140 million devices per annum -40% more than a year's demand.
Not that Qualcomm and MediaTek are stamping out processors here -all the critical components still come from China and Taiwan -but it is a significant start for the industry. Sources said the local industry does about 5-8% of value addition at present, and this can be scaled up to around 35% within five years.
The flurry of investments to the region was perhaps prompted by the presence of Korean giants Samsung and LG. Samsung, which started local manufacturing a decade ago and reportedly has the highest installed capacity of 40 million devices per annum - the company did not confirm it- seeded a significant number of smartphone component suppliers in the area. The company produces mobile phones from completely knocked-down (CKD) kits.
"All our mobile phones, from feature phones to the Galaxy S7 that we sell in India, are manufactured at our Noida factory, and we will continue to explore future investment opportunities," a spokesperson for Samsung said.
Now Indian brands like Lava, Intex and Karbonn, besides Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron, have also set up shop. In partnership with home-grown telecom retailer and manufacturer Optiemus, Wistron makes phones for LG, China's OnePlus and Oppo, and Taiwan's HTC. Another Chinese vendor, Water World Technology , has partnered local company UTL Group, which is one of the backers of Karbonn Mobiles. Each factory creates 3,000-4,000 direct jobs, employing mostly high-school or ITI graduates.
Proximity to Delhi, where most home-grown phone brands are headquartered, has certainly helped the region bloom despite UP's iffy image as a business destination. "The promoters wanted operations in a region that remains within their reach and under their control," said Narendra Bansal, chairman of Intex Technologies, a major Indian phone brand.