For months, Trump administration officials reportedly discussed an exemption for iPhones. Most, if not all, of the iPhone’s manufacturing and assembly take place in China. As a result, officials are supposedly aware Apple can’t quickly and simply move iPhone manufacturing and assembly out of China.
Administration officials also want to avoid backlash from an increase in iPhone prices. The current iPhone 11 lineup ranges from $699 for the base model iPhone 11 to $1,449 for the base model iPhone 11 Pro Max. Because of the pricing, consumers are more likely to purchase an iPhone with monthly installments through a carrier instead of unlocked.
More poignant is the U.S. not wanting to give Samsung any advantage over Apple due to possible tariffs. Samsung manufactures many of its products in South Korea, Vietnam, and other countries. That means the company wouldn’t be subject to the tariffs.
The U.S. trade war with China has been going on since 2018, with the former announcing another round of tariffs in August. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned the tariffs would negatively affect Apple and boost the competition’s business. In response, President Trump seemed receptive to Cook’s arguments and said he’d look into the matter.
Tariffs on iPhones, iPads, and MacBook laptops were delayed until December.