Huawei surprised the world when it released the Mate 60 Pro, its new flagship smartphone running on the Kirin 9000S system-on-a-chip. That chip is rumored to be made by China-based SMIC using a 7nm-class fabrication process, putting it into competition with Western chipmakers and phone creators despite US sanctions on Chinese companies.
Now, it seems that Foxconn, a supplier and assembler for Apple and other tech companies, is reportedly paying workers more to work on Huawei’s handset in its Shenzhen-based plant than it does working on Apple’s iPhones, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.
“The new hires will know what phone they are making after the factory allocates them to different teams based on current demand, but these days they have a higher chance of making handsets for Huawei,” a recruiter for Foxconn named only by their surname, Xu, told the publication.
Apple’s iPhones are made by Foxconn’s integrated digital product business group, or iDPBG. In contrast, Huawei’s phones are made as part of the FIH group, which the SCMP explains works “under a subsidiary previously known as Foxconn International Holdings.” The SCMP reports that FIH was offering 26 yuan (about $3.60) per hour, according to two recruiters, while the iDBPG was offering 21 yuan per hour (about $2.89).
It’s unclear if all of the differences are simply due to the popularity of the Mate 60 Pro in China. Xu told the SCMP that FIH employees are often paid higher but that the group that makes iPhones “typically offers better welfare programmes for workers than others,” suggesting better benefits.
Either way, a spring of new smartphones is entering the Chinese market, the biggest in the world. Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro hit stores earlier this month, with Digitimes reporting that the company’s orders for the phone have hit 15 – 17 million units.
The Mate 60 Pro, running on a homegrown chip and Huawei’s own HarmonyOS, has seemingly ignited a bit of patriotism in China, with images on local social media of massive lines outside stores selling the phone. In the meantime, China has reportedly repressed the use of iPhones for government work, though the foreign ministry suggested that China had not issued any policy or law to ban the use of phones from “foreign brands” such as Apple.
Meanwhile, Apple announced the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro lines earlier this week, with pre-orders opening earlier today. The two phones hitting so close together has created a competitive storm and requires plenty of workers to assemble them.
Apple, like many firms, has been slowly diversifying its supply chain. For the first time, iPhones made in India will launch on the same day as iPhones assembled in China. Those Indian iPhone factories are also owned by, you guessed it, Foxconn. Apple’s diversification comes in the face of geopolitical tension but also helps the company sell more phones in India without paying tariffs on the phones going into that country.
Apple will undoubtedly sell its fair share of the iPhone 15 in China, but it’s facing a homegrown challenger surfing a wave of technological nationalism. And for now, it seems that Huawei and Foxconn are willing to pay to make sure there’s enough to put a Mate 60 Pro in every hand that wants one.