Apple amps up efforts in India by drastically cutting iPhone 5S price

The Californian company has slashed the price of its iPhone 5S in India to attract larger userbase and compete more aggressively with leaders Samsung and Micromax.

Scott Stein/CNET

Three months ago, India was one of the most expensive places in the world to buy an iPhone, even an older model like the 5S. That's not necessarily the case anymore.

The 5S, first released in September 2013, will now retail for Rs 24,999 ($370, AU$520, £245), which is almost half the Rs 44,500 ($665, AU$920, £440) it was being sold for in September, The Times of India reports.

The price cut appears to be a move by the Californian company to increase its penetration in India, the world's third largest smartphone market after China and the USA, where the bulk of phones sold are sub-$300. As of quarter 3 of 2015, Apple is not even among the top 5 smartphone vendors in India, a market that IDC Research predicts will overtake the US by 2017.

"To drive volume [in India], Apple will need to keep focus on older iPhone generations," IDC's Kiranjeet Kaur said, explaining that older generations will cater to the country's large midrange smartphone market. Kaur added that there's a "limited" amount of penetration the company can achieve by exclusively selling in the premium price segment.

High import taxes and a depreciating currency often results in foreign high-end electronics brands struggling to sell products at a reasonable price. The iPhone 6S, for instance, cost more in India than in any other country at the time of its release. This has led to Indian brands like Micromax and Intex popping up and finding tremendous local success with more affordable handsets. The market leader in the country, however, is South Korean behemoth Samsung, who is able to keep prices relatively low thanks to its manufacturing of phones within India.