The wild, great world of North Korean smartphones

From new flagships simply like the Google Pixel 7 professional to price range stars simply like the Samsung A53, there are a ton of good Android telephones. nonetheless, not every system is supplied worldwide. Brazilians might be exhausting-pressed to grab that Pixel 7 professional, and U.S. residents can solely look enviously at these sporting the eye-catching Nothing cellphone. nonetheless, inside the event you are decided, you presumably can typically seize one, albeit at a markup and with restricted community connectivity. however what about in all probability the most elusive of telephones? What about North Korean smartphones?


North Korean smartphones are designed to permit residents the comfort of a smartphone whereas creating one other avenue for the state to observe and administration them. however what are they like? prolonged story quick: They’re fascinating. Many are terrible. Others look acquainted. this is a rundown of a quantity of of our favourite North Korean telephones. So

North Koreans get, then lose smartphones

launched in 2002, smartphones had been then banned from 2004 to 2008. The ban was lifted when Egyptian telecommunications agency Orascom Telecom Media and know-how Holding, in a three method partnership with the state, established a mannequin new 3G cellphone service named Koryolink. Leaked paperwork current that Huawei breached US sanctions when it helped construct North Korea’s 3G community alongside China’s state-owned Panda.

as we communicate, Koryolink is method the identical 3G continues to be the normal, although Huawei might have stopped sustaining the community in 2016. Most North Koreans can solely entry North Korea’s intranet. nonetheless, prolonged-time period international residents (akin to diplomatic workers) and friends can entry the on-line. That acknowledged, North Korea had three Wi-Fi entry factors in 2020. And inside the event you are not a resident and want entry to the Koryolink community, plan to spend round $285 for a SIM card, and also you may want to price range for about $23 for 50MB of 3G knowledge.

A glimpse of a North Korean cellphone with a constructed-in mosquito repellant. There’s additionally a Google Drive icon that opens a screensaver app.

So what telephones are North Korean residents using?

it is exhausting to confirm these telephones’ particulars reliably. Some specs listed beneath are sourced immediately from the DPRK state media, so take these with a bucketload of salt. Lumen worldwide, a non-revenue devoted to sharing knowledge with North Korean people, collated the specs beneath and has performed its best to collate in all probability the most appropriate specs.

The Arirang household of smartphones

5 years after launching Koryolink, North Korea introduced its first smartphone. Named “Arirang” after a Korean people music, the AS1201 was touted as being made in North Korea, with Kim Jong-un personally touring the Arirang manufacturing unit. nonetheless, the cellphone was neither real nor made in North Korea.

Kim Jong-un visiting the Arirang “manufacturing unit.”

the exact specs of the AS1201 are unknown (Kim Jong-un reportedly praised the “extreme pixels” of the digicam). considerably than dwelling-grown Korean tech, Arirang’s first cellphone was a rebranded Uniscope U1201, a chinese language cellphone launched in 2014 with Android 4 and substandard hardware.

The AS1201’s exterior (the cellphone on the exact of every photograph) is equal to the Uniscope U1201.

In 2016, the Arirang 151 was launched alongside a price range mannequin, the 152. Then bought here the Arirang 161 in 2017, that contains a fingerprint sensor for the most important time. (4 years after the iPhone 5s.) not like the distinctive Arirang, it is not a clone of one other system, however its design cues are taken from Samsung’s telephones.

Left: Arirang 151 proper: Arirang 152

The Arirang 171, reportedly the fifth Arirang mannequin, was launched in 2018 with a 4.7-inch monitor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB RAM, and a fingerprint sensor.

cellphone Arirang 171
launch date 2018
OS Android 7.eleven
Chipset Mediatek MT6797
current 5.5 inches
decision 1080p
entrance digicam 8MP
Rear digicam 13MP
reminiscence 4GB RAM, 32GB

All cellphone specs are sourced from Lumen worldwide.

Commercials for the Airrang-151 and Arirang-171

The Jindallae and Jindallae three

In 2017, the Jindallae three was launched. primarily based on the state-run paper DPRK as we communicate, it was designed “inside the Korean method.” It additionally claimed that the cellphone’s look, construction, circuit design, and working system had been produced domestically.

nonetheless, a quick side-by-side comparability with the Samsung S7 and iPhone 6s (launched the identical yr) tells a distinct story. considerably than an real design, the Jindallae three seems to be a mix of the two.

inside the event you are confused about what occurred to the Jindallae three’s predecessors, so are we. particulars of the Jindallae had been launched in 2018, nonetheless the identify and hardware specs counsel it was launched earlier than the Jindallae three.

cellphone Jindallae 6 Jindallae three Jindallae
launch date 2020 2017 Unknown
OS Android eight.1 Android 7.1.1 4.4.2
Chipset MediaTek MT6771 octa-core, 12nm processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 quad-core processor ARM Cortex A7 quad-core 1.3GHz
current 6.2 inches 5.2 inches 4.7 inches
decision 2246 x 1080 1280 x 720 1280 x 720
reminiscence 6GB Ram, 64GB 4GB RAM, 32GB 1GB RAM, 16GB
Rear digicam 16MP 13MP 8MP
entrance digicam 8MP 8MP 2MP
Battery three,550mAh three,100mAh 1,850mA

All cellphone specs are sourced from Lumen worldwide.

Following the Jindallae three bought here the Jindallae 5 (2019) and the Jindallae 6, 6+, and seven (2020). The Jindallae 5 did not launch with any notable options, nonetheless the 6 and 6+ had been the most important inside the highway-as a lot as embody fingerprint, voice, and facial recognition.

The Phurunhanul H1 and H2

The Phurunhanul H1 was the most important smartphone by Phurunhanul Electronics. Little is thought about this cellphone, nonetheless the 6,000mAh battery seems implausible, contemplating simply one cellphone in our roundup of actually one of the best Android telephones at present obtainable gives this enormous of a battery.

The Phurunhanul H2’s launch date is unclear, however a a lot greater current, extra vital reminiscence, and improved cameras level out it bought here afterward. It additionally bought here with a smaller however barely extra practical 4,300 mAh battery.

cellphone Phurunhanal H1 Phurunhanal H2
launch date 2018 Unknown
OS Android (mannequin unknown) Android (mannequin unknown)
Chipset Mediatek MT6753 1.3GHz Mediatek MT6750
current 5.5 inches 6 inches
decision Unknown 1440 x 720
entrance digicam 8MP thirteen.3MP
Rear digicam 16MP 21.2MP
reminiscence 3GB RAM, 32GB 4GB RAM, 64GB
Battery 6,000mAh 4,300mAh
measurement Unknown 159 x seventy six.2 x 9.6 mm
Weight Unknown 240 grams

All cellphone specs are sourced from Lumen worldwide.

The Pyongyang telephones

The Pyongyang mannequin contains in all probability the most intensive fluctuate of North Korean smartphones. There are too many to itemizing right here, however listed beneath are some highlights.

The Pyongyang 1202

A fetching clamshell system, this photograph of the Pyongyang 1202 was revealed by the Sogwang internet web site (a NK propaganda web site, now offline) in 2019. Photographed at an electronics retailer, this was seemingly an ingredient of a current of older telephones.

Pyongyang 2423

This cellphone was obtained from The day-after-day NK internet web site. Tinkering round with the cellphone, it found pretty a quantity of safety controls on the system, these included:

  • No exterior entry to inner folders
  • SD playing cards are restricted from storing knowledge.

What apps can a North Korean smartphone consumer entry?

An prolonged enterprise for the Arirang 171, displaying its put in apps and options.

North Koreans do not have a various over what apps come preinstalled on their system. The Kiltongmu cellphone, launched in 2019 (a clone of the Samsung be aware eight), bought here preinstalled with “30 dictionaries, packages, leisure, and [other] media which would possibly be standard amongst prospects,” as reported by NK information.

fully different telephones embody rip-offs of standard video games like indignant Birds, and whereas it is exhausting to inform from photographs, it is clear that many iOS apps have been copied to be used in North Korea’s smartphones.

There are additionally an superior deal of thriller apps. The Jindallae three bought here with an app acknowledged as Hiding, which would possibly very properly be something from a sport to a chat app.

however regardless of the app, you presumably may even make sure that they are designed to permit the state to observe all exercise.

North Korean smartphones are what you’d anticipate

North Korean smartphones are virtually disappointing of their blandness. they’re low price rip-offs of standard models. The distinctive factor about them is the complete lack of privateness. Take a second to understand your freedoms, and examine cross-research your digital privateness.