A look inside North Korea’s latest smartphone: The Pyongyang 2425

Daily NK recently acquired North Korea’s latest smartphone, the Pyongyang 2425. The phone has been described as “much improved in both functionality and design” by North Korean media site Sogwang. Daily NK’s analysis of the new smartphone found that the Pyongyang 2425 has significantly improved hardware and software capabilities compared to the previous model, the Pyongyang 2423.

North Korea Chasing the Latest Trends? New Phone Sports Notched Design, Facial Recognition, Wireless Charging and More

The Pyongyang 2425 distinguishes itself through a newly revamped design. The previous model, the Pyongyang 2423, did not feature a bezel, while the new model employs a notched design that effectively turns the entire display into a screen. The notch design first appeared on the iPhone X released in 2017 and is now featured by a wide range of smartphones.

The Pyongyang 2425 also includes facial recognition and wireless recharging, which were not features included in past models. Facial recognition can only be used to unlock the screen, but the technology will likely be used in payment services and app security in the future.

The new model does not have an earphone jack on its bottom and requires the use of a separate adapter. The absence of the earphone jack suggests that wireless earphones are available in North Korea. Regular Bluetooth earphones dutifully sourced in the Daily NK office were found to connect to the Pyongyang 2425 without issue.

The new features on the Pyongyang 2425 are common to the latest smartphones around the globe. Most North Koreans remain isolated from most of the world, but the country’s smartphone industry is keeping up with the newest trends.

North Korea's latest smartphone, Pyongyang 2425
North Korea’s latest smartphone, the Pyongyang 2425. Image: Daily NK

Despite Strong Security Measures, New Phone Boasts Much Improved Performance and Functionality

The new phone’s operating system exemplifies North Korea’s contradictory attempts to keep up with global trends while preventing users from gaining access to external information. While the phone’s capabilities and functionality have improved a great deal, the phone is handicapped due to strict security measures.

In one such example, the Pyongyang 2425 includes a new feature called “automatic display editing,” but the phone’s security measures prevents it from opening. Automatic display editing converts photos, text messages, and music into PowerPoint-like slides to send as messages to other people. However, when Daily NK clicked on “preview” to see the slides the application had created, a message popped up saying “This file is unsigned,” indicating that it could not be opened.

North Korea has long prevented the opening of foreign (“uncertified”) media files on its phones. In this case, however, the phone did not even allow the opening of a file that included photos and ringtones from the phone itself. Ultimately, this provides a glimpse into the North Korean state’s attempts to block access to new technology.

The Pyongyang 2425 is Wifi ready, but Daily NK was unable to connect due to the phone’s operating system blocking the action. Notably, the earlier Pyongyang version– 2423– was able to connect to Wifi.

Strong security measures make it difficult to use some of the Pyongyang 2425’s new features, but the phone nonetheless boasts significant improvements over past models.

The phone also uses the same chipsets as past models. The chipsets are manufactured by Mediatek Inc, a Taiwanese semiconductor company. The chipset used on the Pyongyang 2425, MT6771, is almost – although not quite – as good as the CPU performance of the Samsung Galaxy A9 released last year.

The performance of the Pyongyang 2423 released late last year has similar specs to South Korean smartphone models released in 2014. This shows that North Korean manufacturers have significantly narrowed the gap in the technological performance of their phones in a short space of time.

The new phone’s storage has been increased significantly (RAM has quadrupled to 8 GB; ROM has doubled to 32 GB), meaning that the phone’s performance, including the running of programs and switching screens, is much faster than before.

North Korea's latest smartphone, Pyongyang 2425
North Korea’s latest smartphone, the Pyongyang 2425. Image: Daily NK


Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.