Apple's decision to shift some of its manufacturing business to India at the expense of China has sparked a wave of degrading reactions on the latter's social media platforms.
A number of Chinese users have not only expressed doubts over the quality of the iPhones, particularly the recently released iPhone 15s, manufactured in India, but also made downright racist comments.
These comments come in the backdrop of the India-made iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models being available in the global market along with Chinese units together for the first time. India has become the second-largest assembler of iPhones worldwide, taking away a significant portion of Apple's business from China.
"Ahead of the new iPhone release on Friday, some netizens are calling for boycotting India-made iPhone 15s," a Chinese journalist wrote in the Voice of America, adding that India has become subject to misinformation campaigns and racist comments over the issue.
Quality Issues, Curry Smell: How Chinese Users Reacted To India-Made iPhones
One Chinese user took to Weibo to falsely claim that the India-made iPhone 15 units were being diverted to China after they were rejected in Europe over their "poor" quality.
Others posed photos on their social media platforms showing purported dust particles on their camera lenses and the phone's motherboard, thus claiming that the quality of iPhones made in India was deplorable. Yet more Chinese users claimed that the India-made units were heating up faster than their Chinese counterparts.
The criticism was backed by hundreds of Weibo users, many of whom took to making racist comments. "The initial release seems quite random. First, let's tear off the packaging and savour the aroma of curry; it's alright in India, it's clean and hygienic, folks," one such post read.
Another user raised concerns about Indians eating curry and rice with their hands, touching their phones and rubbing their eyes, thus casting doubts over how "sanitised" India-made iPhones may be. The user added that the iPhones might have an unpleasant smell, such as that of "corpse rice".
However, several Indian users who purchased the latest iPhones said that there were no issues with the units and that they were working perfectly well.
In 2021, China accounted for the manufacture of 95 percent of iPhones worldwide, compared to 3 percent in India. In the current scenario, India's share has increased to around 14 percent while China's has fallen to 86 percent, as per Counterpoint Research.
Apple has rapidly increased its manufacturing operations in India since 2017, relying on mainly three companies: Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron. Apart from achieving record shipments of around 7 million units in 2023, Apple also surpassed Samsung in export volumes from India, having shipped iPhones worth more than $5 billion in FY23, Business Today reported.
(With inputs from Voice of America and Business Today.)