The Jindallae 7 phone was manufactured in China

The new smartphone is reportedly selling for a little over USD 300 in North Korea

A Daily NK investigation into the serial numbers of the latest “Jindallae 7” phone released by North Korea at the beginning of this year has found that the product was manufactured by a company based in China. 

On Monday, Daily NK entered the information of a Jindallae 7 smartphone into IMEI.info, a website for looking up International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers. The search found that the Jindallae has the same IMEI as the “F1” model made by UMIDIGI, a smartphone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China.

An IMEI is a unique 15-digit number given to each mobile device by the manufacturer upon its release to prevent illegal copying. The IMEI identifies the manufacturer, model and serial number, making tampering or forgery almost impossible.

A Daily NK review of the F1 and Jindallae 7 found that the exterior and main features of the two phones are very similar. 

Both products use a water drop notch design, feature a 6.3 inch screen with 2340 x 1080 FHD+ resolution, and have the same operating system (Android 9.0) installed. Even the rear-facing camera and fingerprint recognition sensor modules are identical. 

phone china
The user guide to the Jindallae 7 (on the left) along with an image of the back of the phone (on the right). / Image: Daily NK

There are slight differences, however, in terms of battery capacity and performance. Jindallae 7 contains a 5,200 mAH battery, while F1 is equipped with 5,150 mAh, and the specifications for the front and rear-facing cameras are 16MP and 21MP for the Jindallae 7, respectively, compared to 16MP and 16MP+8MP for the F1. 

Despite these small differences in hardware performance, it appears that Jindallae 7 is built on the F1 model.

The investigation suggests that North Korea has continued to purchase phones from China before reassembling them and installing local software. 

The results of the investigation suggest that there is a cooperative relationship between UMIDIGI and the Mangyongdae Information Technology Company, the North Korean manufacturer of the Jindallae 7. 

CRACKS IN THE SANCTIONS REGIME?

This is not the first time that a North Korean smartphone has been linked to a Chinese manufacturer. 

Most of the North Korean smartphones previously obtained by Daily NK also had IMEI numbers from Chinese firms. 

The IMEI numbers for the 2418, 2423 and 2425 models in the Pyongyang series were manufactured by Gionee, while the Chollyong 201 was found to be a product of Shenzhen Oujia Electronic Technology. 

Both of these companies are smartphone manufacturers based in China.

The IMEI numbers of other North Korean smartphone models, including the Pyongyang 2426 and 2428 – and the Arirang 151 – have been traced to manufacturers in countries such as Yemen and Taiwan. 

All of this suggests there are cracks in sanctions against North Korea under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2397, which prohibits the import or export of machines and electronic products to North Korea. 

A TOOL TO ABSORB FOREIGN CURRENCY?

Meanwhile, Jindallae 7 is reportedly selling for a little over USD 300 in North Korea. 

“Jindallae 7 is being sold for USD 310,” a source in North Korea told Daily NK on July 7. “It is the most popular model after the Chollyong 201.” 

The F1, however, sells for only USD 180 on UMIDIGI’s official website. 

All in all, the investigation suggests that North Korean authorities may be purchasing low-end phones from China and selling them off at a profit after installing local software. North Korea may be trying to absorb foreign currency circulating in the country through the sale of smartphones equipped with the latest technology.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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