Huawei to expand handset making capacity in India


China’s Huawei Technologies is set to significantly ramp up handset production capacity at its Chennai factory and also increase the number of its original equipment maker (OEM) partners as part of its efforts to boost local smartphone manufacturing in a bid to target a 10 percent -plus market share in India from the present level of about 2 percent.

“We have given a commitment to India’s telecom minister Manoj Sinha to deepen our ‘Make in India’ engagement and build local capacity, and India will play a much bigger role towards our goal of becoming the world’s third-largest smartphone brand in the next five years,” Peter Zhai, president, Huawei India’s Consumer Business Group, told ET on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress.

The Chinese smartphone maker plans to locally manufacture both its Honor-branded smartphones and select models of its premium devices sold under the Huawei brand.

At present, 80 percent of Honor mobile devices, including the Honor 7X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor Holly 3 and Honor 6X, are being manufactured in India, and this is likely to rise shortly once local capacity expansion targets are finalised.

Zhai said Huawei has a single OEM partner at present in Flex for its mobile devices business in India, and is open to having two more OEM partners depending on business requirements, economies of scale benefits and expanded production targets.

Huawei, he said, would step up investments in India, which would initially be reflected in expansion of production capacity of its Honor line of smartphones. He did not share actual capacity expansion or investment numbers.

Zhai also did not reveal Huawei’s immediate plans to locally manufacture 5G-ready smartphones in India, but said the company would bring to India all smartphones that get launched globally.

Huawei had unveiled its own 5G chipset, the Balong 5G01, during the Mobile World Congress conference, which the company reportedly said was the world’s first commercial chipset meeting 5G standards.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, had said in Barcelona last month that the company would globally launch its first 5G-ready smartphone in either the third or fourth quarter.