China’s Luxshare aims to begin iPhone assembly ahead of schedule

China’s Luxshare aims to begin iPhone assembly ahead of schedule

AirPods maker hopes to challenge Foxconn in Apple’s flagship device

Chinese electronics maker Luxshare is attempting to break into iPhone manufacturing ahead of schedule, a move backed by Apple and aimed at challenging Taiwanese rival Foxconn, the world’s leading assembler of Apple’s iconic devices.

Luxshare has dispatched a group of employees to study iPhone production at a Chinese plant it is in the process of buying from Wistron, a smaller Taiwanese assembler, sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei Asia. The move is unusual because the acquisition is not yet final, and Apple rarely if ever allows outside employees to visit suppliers’ production sites — especially during peak iPhone production season.

Also surprising is that the Luxshare employees are studying production of the latest iPhone 12 mini, multiple sources said. Originally, the Chinese company was expected to begin producing older models, and not until next year.

The key assembler of Apple’s AirPods wireless earphones, Luxshare bought Wistron’s iPhone assembly plant in Kunshan, China, for 3.3 billion yuan ($499 million) in July to strengthen its ties with Apple and challenge Foxconn. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.