A Daily NK investigation into the serial numbers of the latest “Chollyong 201” mobile phone released by North Korea at the beginning of this year has confirmed that the phones were manufactured by a company in China. 

After obtaining a photograph of a Chollyong 201 phone, Daily NK entered the phone’s serial number on a website that tracks International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers (imei24.com). An IMEI is akin to a social security number for smartphones, and includes the manufacturer, brand, model number (TAC) and serial number (SNR).

The search revealed that the Chollyong 201 phone was manufactured by Shenzhen Oujia Electronic Technology, a firm that performs research and development, production and sales of telecommunications equipment. The specific model is the “Oujia 2019.” North Korea may have ordered the Chollyong 201 phones from this company and received an allocation of IMEI numbers intended for the Oujia 2019.

The IMEI numbers of other North Korean smartphones such as the Pyongyang 2425, 2426 and 2428 have previously been found to be products from firms in China, Yemen and other countries. 

However, there are clear differences between the exteriors of the Oujia 2019 and the Chollyong 201 – at least based on photographs of the two phones. 

Chollyong 201 uses a water drop notch design, with the volume and power buttons on the right and a rectangular rear-facing camera in the center. In contrast, Oujia 2019 does not have a water drop notch display and features volume and power buttons on the phone’s sides in addition to a rectangular rear-facing camera.

The Chollyong 201 (on the left) and the Ouija 2019 (in the middle) and the Huawei Mate 20 (on the right). / Images: Daily NK

In fact, there are no Oujia products that resemble the Chollyong 201.

Instead, the exterior and features of the Chollyong 201 appear to be similar to the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G. Both smartphones feature a 7.12 inch display and water drop notch design. They also have the same resolution, button positions and rear-facing cameras.

A North Korean state-media outlet recently reported that the Chollyong 201 is easy-to-use and has a long battery life. The battery capacity was not stated in the article, but the Chollyong 201 is believed to contain the same high-capacity 4200mAh battery used in the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G. 

This leads to the tentative conclusion that the Chollyong 201 is really a Huawei-made phone registered with IMEI numbers from Shenzhen Oujia Electronic Technology. 

The fact that the Huawei Mate 20 sells for almost double the price of the Chollyong 201, however, suggests that there are likely clear differences in terms of performance. 

The North Korean media outlet claimed that Chollyong 201 was created at Tonggang New Technology Development Center. 

The box in the Chollyong 201 photo obtained by Daily NK had Potonggang New Technology Development Center written on it. It appears that the North Korean media outlet omitted the first character in the company name by accident when listing the manufacturer.

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.