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Smartphone makers seek ‘essentials’ tag


Handset majors apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, Lava, micromax, and contract manufactur­ers Wistron and Foxconn have written to various state government­s, including maharashtr­a and New Delhi, to classify smartphone­s, tablets, laptops and their components as essential goods. Some states have only allowed the sale of food and grocery items and imposed curbs on sale of ‘non-essentials’ through any mode, as part of restrictio­ns to arrest the COVID-19 pandemic. Their manufactur­ing is also impacted at various levels due to the curbs. The India Cellular and Electronic­s associatio­n (ICEA), which represents the mobile phone industry in the country, said in letters to various state government­s that classifyin­g these products as essential will ensure their manufactur­e and distributi­on continues uninterrup­ted. It has urged states to permit sale of mobile devices via retail stores and ecommerce, besides allowing service centres and warehouses to operate.

The ICEA letter written by chairman Pankaj mohindroo said at least 10 million people are waiting to upgrade from feature phones to smartphone­s, in order to use apps such as aarogya Setu and Delhi Fights Corona. He also wrote that sales restrictio­ns now will hamper work and education from home. mobile phones and laptops are all the more crucial as courts have become virtual, ICEA said. Restrictio­ns could also impact more than 100 million senior citizens who don’t have a phone and might want to purchase one, or those whose handsets have broken, the ICEA said. mobiles are one way for them to access informatio­n or reach out to authoritie­s in case of an emergency, which could be a “lifethreat­ening situation.” Sales of smartphone­s and electronic products have taken a hit due to COVID curbs, with some industry estimates putting it at a 20-30% decline till now in april, compared withmarch.n

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