Quite a few smartphone models are produced in North Korea, and most of them are clones of devices from China or made by famous Western companies like Apple or Samsung. However, these devices do not have access to the big virtual app stores, such as Google Play or App Gallery, but come with pre-installed content.
For example, the Kiltongmu, a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 clone, came with 30 pre-installed dictionaries, software and entertainment apps. Other models include clones of games such as Angry Birds, according to Lumen’s Project Reveal report.
All of these devices are closely monitored by the authorities to ensure that users do not access prohibited content.
Recent smartphone models launched in North Korea include the Jindallae 6, which debuted on the market in 2020. The device uses an octa-core MediaTek MT6771 chipset (12 nm), has a 6.2″ diagonal display (2,246 x 1,080 pixel resolution), 6 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage capacity. There is no support for external cards as these devices are largely banned, being used for importing illegal content into the communist state.
The phone has a 16 MP main camera, 8 MP front camera and has a 3,550 mAh battery. The operating system of this model is based on Android 8.1.
An own “internet” and 3G networks
Jindallae 6 has more than decent features for the content a user in Kim Jong-un’s state can run or access. North Korean citizens don’t have access to the regular internet, but to Kwangmyong (trans. – “Shiny”), a kind of intranet where the state provides controlled access to a few sites and pages where content is carefully chosen. Users can visit a rudimentary social networking site as well as science, travel, sports, news and cooking sites.
Another recent smartphone is the Jindallae 7, which runs Android 9, has a 6.3″ display (2,340 x 1,080 pixel resolution), 16 MP primary camera (2 MP front) and 5,200 mAh battery.
North Korea’s largest mobile network is Koryolink, a joint venture company established in 2008 by the Ministry of Posts and Communications in Pyongyang in partnership with Egyptian operator Orascom. There have been disputes between the two partners, but it seems the Egyptians are still involved in the project. It offers 3G connectivity and has an estimated 6 million users.