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Apple cuts iPhone XR price in Japan

The country's biggest carrier has slashed the XR's price under contract, days after a report that Apple was offering subsidies to do so.

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The iPhone XR got a price drop in Japan, via subsidies.

Angela Lang/CNET

Looks like Apple has cut the iPhone XR price in Japan by offering subsidies to carriers.

Customers coming to NTT Docomo, Japan's biggest carrier, can save nearly $100 on the cheapest of Apple's 2018 iPhones on a 24-month contract, 9to5Mac reported Monday.

It noted that 24 monthly payments on the 64GB iPhone XR contract would previously have come to 36,000 yen (about $320, £250 or AU$440), but as of Monday it comes to a total of 25,920 yen (about $230, £180 or AU$315).

An unlocked XR costs 84,800 yen (around $750) on the Japanese Apple Store, but carriers often bundle phones with data plans so customers can get them at a discount.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple intended to offer Japan's major carriers subsidies that'd allow them to cut the XR's price, citing unnamed sources "with direct knowledge of the plan."

The subsidized XR is a result of Japanese customers opting for last year's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus instead of 2018's iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, according to 9to5Mac. However, it mentioned that we shouldn't expect to see the discount replicated worldwide -- Apple is careful to apply subsidies selectively.

The Journal's report also said Apple started producing 2017's iPhone X again, in part to fulfill its contract with display maker Samsung -- Apple must buy a certain number of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens. The older model is cheaper to produce than the XS and XS Max, so the company resumed production to fill the gap, the Journal said, citing people involved in the supply chain.

Neither Apple, NTT Docomo nor Samsung immediately responded to requests for comment.

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Word of the possible cuts came a day after a report that Foxconn, the main iPhone manufacturer, plans to cut $2.9 million from its costs next year and reduced overtime hours after Apple slashed production orders for its 2018 iPhones.

Before that, the Cupertino, California, company said the 2018 models didn't sell as well as analysts expected immediately after their September release and decided it'd no longer detail unit sales of its major devices.

In July, Japan's competition watchdog said Apple's policy of obliging carriers to offer subsidies for iPhones may have breached its laws. The company avoided punishment because it agreed to alter this practice.

First published Nov. 22 at 6:43 a.m. PT.
Updated Nov. 26 at 3:37 a.m. PT: Added details about NTT Docomo.

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