5G smartphones will have to support NavIC by January 1, 2025, while the rest of the smartphones have till December 2025 to introduce the support
Apple is the latest adopter of NavIC, while some brands such as Xiaomi, POCO, OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus already use the system in some of their models
The government could consider giving incentives for using NavIC-supporting chips made or designed in India in system designs in the next round of PLI schemes
All smartphones in India will have to support the government’s Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, commonly known as NavIC, by the end of 2025, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.
This announcement comes after Apple introduced the support for India’s navigation system in some of the new iPhone 15 models. With this, Apple joins other smartphone brands such as Xiaomi, POCO, OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus in adopting NavIC.
Most smartphones enable the use of all navigation systems for developers, and with NavIC getting adopted by Apple, the doors for the Indian system’s global development will also open up.
Chandrasekhar said that 5G smartphones will have to support NavIC by January 1, 2025. All other smartphones have until December 2025 to implement the feature.
The government is also considering incentivising the use of India-made or designed NavIC-supporting chips in future production-linked schemes.
“In line with the incentives that we have announced under the IT hardware PLI, where cashback to companies can significantly go up if they use India-designed or -manufactured chips in their systems, we will extend the same idea to the smartphone PLI as well for using domestic chips that support NavIC,” Chandrasekhar told reporters on Thursday (September 14).
However, the minister didn’t reveal when the revised PLI scheme for smartphones would be launched. Under the existing IT hardware PLI, companies producing laptops, computers and servers with local components, including chips, receive extra incentives.
“When we have a mobile phone grid chip, which is performance-competitive, cost-competitive, we will certainly incentivise mobile phone devices to incorporate that as well.”
The minister added that it is already mandatory to use GPS that uses the NavIC chipsets in the automobile segment. Chandrasekhar clarified that the requirement would be for incorporating NavIC in addition to other GPS systems that are already in use.
These include the US’s Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the European Union’s Galileo, China’s BeiDou, and Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS).
NavIC, developed by ISRO, uses seven satellites which cover India and neighbouring areas, including the Indian Ocean region. The navigation satellite system will improve further when more satellites are added to the network, enabling NavIC to expand to other countries as well.
“Chandrayaan 3, ISRO’s successful launch of the Aditya L1, its maiden solar mission, and the mainstream acceptance of the NavIC technology shows India’s growing power as a space nation,” Chandrasekhar added.
NavIC was first ideated in the early 2010s, with the first seven satellites with the prefix IRNSS-1 being launched in July 2013. While three of the satellites are in a geostationary orbit, the remaining four are in a geosynchronous orbit. The navigation system covers all of mainland India, along with a region extending 1,500 km around it.