Four phones in different pastels sit on a green table. One has an illuminated display.

The wonderful wild world of North Korean smartphones

From the new flagship like Google Pixel 7 Pro For budget stars like Samsung A53There are a lot of great Android phones out there. However, not every device is available worldwide. Brazilians will be hard-pressed to grab the Pixel 7 Pro, and US citizens can only look with envy at those who exercise Attractive nothing phone. However, if you’re determined, you can usually get one, albeit with coding and with limited network connectivity. But what about the most elusive phones? What about North Korean smartphones?

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Smartphones in North Korea are designed to allow citizens to be comfortable with a smartphone while creating another way for the state to monitor and control it. But what do they like? Long story short: It’s great. Much awful. Others look familiar. Here’s a summary of some of our favorite North Korean phones. So


North Koreans get, then lose smartphones

Smartphones were introduced in 2002, then banned from 2004 to 2008. The ban was lifted when Egyptian telecom operator Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding, in a joint venture with the state, created a new 3G mobile service called Koryolink. leaked documents show it Huawei violated US sanctions When she helped build North Korea’s 3G network along China’s state-owned Panda network.

Today, Koryolink is much the same: 3G is still the standard, although Huawei may have stopped maintaining the network in 2016. Most North Koreans can only access North Korea’s intranet. However, long-term foreign residents (such as diplomatic staff) and visitors can access the Internet. However, North Korea had three Wi-Fi access points in 2020. And if you’re not a resident and want to access the Koryolink network, plan on doing so. Spend about $285 for a SIM, you’ll need to budget around $23 for 50MB of 3G data.

A glimpse of a North Korean phone with built-in mosquito repellent. There is also a Google Drive icon that opens the screensaver app.

So what phones do North Koreans use?

It is difficult to confirm the details of these phones reliably. Some of the specs here were obtained directly from the DPRK state media, so take those specs with a bucket of salt. Lumen Globala non-profit organization dedicated to exchanging information with North Koreans, has compiled the specifications below and has done its best to collect the most accurate specifications.

Arirang Smartphone Family

Five years after the launch of Kryolink, North Korea announced its first smartphone. Named after a Korean folk song, “Arirang” is described as being made in North Korea, where Kim Jong-un personally toured the Arirang factory. However, the phone was neither original nor made in North Korea.

Kim Jong-un visits Arirang’s “factory”.

The exact specifications of the AS1201 are unknown (reportedly by Kim Jong-un Praised for the “high pixel” of the camera). Instead of domestic Korean technology, Arirang’s first phone was the Uniscope U1201, a Chinese phone launched in 2014 with Android 4 and substandard devices.

The exterior of the AS1201 (the phone on the right of each photo) is identical to the Uniscope U1201.

In 2016, the Arirang 151 was launched along with the budget version, the 152. Then came the Arirang 161 in 2017, which features a fingerprint sensor for the first time. (Four years after the iPhone 5s.) Unlike the original Arirang, it’s not a clone of another device, but its design cues are taken from Samsung phones.

the left: Arirang 151 the correct: Arirang 152

Arirang 171, the fifth model from Arirang, was launched in 2018 with a 4.7-inch display, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of RAM, and a fingerprint sensor.

phone Arirang 171
release day 2018
The operating system Android 7.11
Slices MediaTek MT6797
Show 5.5 inches
the decision 1080p
front camera 8 mega pixel
back camera 13 mega pixel
memory 4 GB RAM, 32 GB

All phone specifications are taken from Lumen Global.

Commercials for Airrang-151 and Arirang-171

Jindallae and Jindallae 3

In 2017, Jindallae 3 was launched. According to the state-run newspaper of the DPRK today, it was so Designed “Korean Style”. It also claimed that the phone’s appearance, structure, circuit design, and operating system were locally produced.

However, a quick side-by-side comparison to the Samsung S7 and iPhone 6s (released in the same year) tells a different story. Rather than the original design, the Jindallae 3 appears to be a combination of the two.

If you’re confused about what happened to Jindallae 3’s ancestors, we are. Details of the Jindallae were released in 2018, but the name and hardware specifications indicate that it was released before the Jindallae 3.

phone Jindalae 6 Jindalae 3 Jindalae
release day 2020 2017 Unknown
The operating system Android 8.1 Android 7.1.1 4.4.2
Slices MediaTek MT6771 Octa Core 12nm Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 Quad Core Processor ARM Cortex A7 Quad Core 1.3GHz
Show 6.2 inches 5.2 inches 4.7 inches
the decision 2246 x 1080 1280 x 720 1280 x 720
memory 6 GB RAM, 64 GB 4 GB RAM, 32 GB 1 GB RAM, 16 GB
back camera 16 mega pixel 13 mega pixel 8 mega pixel
front camera 8 mega pixel 8 mega pixel 2 mega pixel
battery 3550 mAh 3100 mAh 1,850 mA

All phone specifications are taken from Lumen Global.

After Jindallae 3 came Jindallae 5 (2019) and Jindallae 6, 6+ and 7 (2020). The Jindallae 5 didn’t launch with any notable features, but the 6 and 6+ were the first in the lineup to include fingerprint, voice and face recognition.

Phurunhanul H1 and H2

The Furonhanol H1 It was the first smartphone from Phurunhanul Electronics. Not much is known about this phone, but the 6000mAh battery seems unbelievable, considering only one phone in our site. A round-up of the best Android phones available right now It offers such a large volume of battery.

The release date of the Phurunhanul H2 is unclear, but the larger screen, more significant memory, and improved cameras suggest it came next. It also comes with a smaller but slightly more realistic 4300mAh battery.

phone Phurunhanal H1 Phurunhanal H2
release day 2018 Unknown
The operating system Android (version unknown) Android (version unknown)
Slices Mediatek MT6753 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6750
Show 5.5 inches 6 inches, inches
the decision Unknown 1440 x 720
front camera 8 mega pixel 13.3 MP
back camera 16 mega pixel 21.2 mega pixels
memory 3 GB RAM, 32 GB 4 GB RAM, 64 GB
battery 6000 mAh 4300 mAh
size Unknown 159 x 76.2 x 9.6 mm
Weight Unknown 240 grams

All phone specifications are taken from Lumen Global.

Pyongyang phones

The Pyongyang brand has the largest range of North Korean smartphones. There are too many to list here, but here are some of the highlights.

Pyongyang 1202

This photo of Pyongyang 1202 was posted by Sogwang’s website (NK propaganda site, now offline) in 2019. Filmed at an electronics store, this is likely part of a display of old phones.

Pyongyang 2423

This phone was obtained from The Daily NK. By tampering with the phone, he found several security controls on the device, including:

  • No external access to internal folders
  • SD cards are prohibited from storing data.

What apps can a North Korean smartphone user access?

Expanded commercial for Arirang 171, showing installed apps and features.

North Koreans have no choice about which apps come pre-installed on their devices. Kiltongmu phone, released in 2019 (a copy of Samsung Note 8), comes pre-installed with “30 dictionaries, programs, entertainment and [other] common media among users,” As reported by NK News.

Other phones come with copies of popular games like Angry Birds, and while it’s hard to tell from the photos, it’s clear that many iOS apps have been copied for use in North Korean smartphones.

There are also plenty of mystery apps. The Jindallae 3 came with an app called Hidingwhich can be anything from a game to a chat app.

But regardless of the application, you can be sure that it is designed to allow the state to monitor all activities.

North Korean smartphones are what you expect

North Korean smartphones are almost disappointing in their thinness. They are cheap copies of popular devices. The unique thing about them is the complete lack of privacy. Take a moment to appreciate your freedoms, and Check your digital privacy.

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