The “Pyongyang 2428,” a North Korean smartphone released in early 2020, has only slight performance upgrades over previous models, Daily NK has learned. These slight performance upgrades, however, are little more than simple hardware performance improvements, which makes it difficult to suggest that the phone has become the country’s new “flagship” smartphone. 

Daily NK recently acquired information about the new smartphone from a source in the country. An analysis of this information suggests the phone comes with an upgraded version of the Android operating system alongside better memory and camera performance. 

According to the source’s information, the Pyongyang 2428 runs on the Android 9.0 operating system, which represents an improvement over the Android 8.1 installed on the Pyongyang 2425 and 2426 models. 

A phone’s performance is directly related to the Android operating system it has installed. A Google blog post announced in 2018 that Android 9.0 boasts improved usability, performance, security and privacy functions over Android 8.0. This suggests that the Pyongyang 2428 performs slightly better than previous models. 

Without specific information about the phone’s applications processor, which serves as a smartphone’s “brain,” Daily NK is unable to accurately gauge how much the phone’s performance has improved over past models. 

The new phone’s memory (RAM 4GB, ROM 32GB) is the same as the Pyongyang 2425, and slightly larger than the Pyongyang 2426. RAM is directly connected to performance as it impacts the speed at which a computer or smartphone processes data. 

The fact that the Pyongyang 2428 contains the same RAM specifications as past models may be because there are few applications in North Korea that use a lot of resources or demand a high level of performance. North Korea does not have real-time video streaming services or massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) that require high processing speeds. In contrast, the latest smartphone models released in South Korea are equipped with at least 12GB of RAM.

The new phone’s camera performance is slightly better than older models. The Pyongyang 2428 features a 16MP camera on the front and 48MP and 5MP cameras on the back, whereas the Pyongyang 2425 comes equipped with the same 16MP camera on the front and 16MP and 5MP cameras on the back.

Specifications of the Pyongyang 2425, 2426 and 2428 (from top to bottom) shown on the box of each device. / Image: Daily NK

The Pyongyang 2428’s 2,340×1080 (FHD+) screen is around one inch larger than the Pyongyang 2425’s 2246×1,080 (FHD+) screen.

The Pyongyang 2428 does not come with a wireless charging pad that was included as a basic accessory with the Pyongyang 2425. This suggests that either the wireless charging function has been removed from the 2428, or that the manufacturer is seeking to boost profits by selling the wireless charger as a separate item. 

Overall, the Pyongyang 2428 does not feature any remarkable changes from previous models. This contrasts with the Pyongyang 2425, which gained attention with the addition of several new technologies, including a full-view display, wireless charging and facial recognition.

The manufacturer’s release of a phone with only marginal performance upgrades suggests that the company is targeting “early adopters.” Since the 2012 release of the Pyongyang 2404, the first Pyongyang series phone, the manufacturer has released a constant stream of new phone models and the launch cycle appears to be growing shorter.

Consumers may begin to turn away from Pyongyang series phones if the manufacturer releases new phones that contrast very little with past models. In fact, North Korean smartphone manufacturers continue to launch phones that are similar to the Pyongyang series and are putting more efforts into marketing and even after-sales service to draw in new customers. 

North Korean media outlet Arirang Meari reported in June that phones such as the “Kildongmu,” “Purunhanul,” “Jindallae 3” and “Arirang 181” had received favorable reviews in the country, while the “Arigang 171,” “Pyongyang 2425,” “Pyongyang 2428,” “Pyongyang 2426,” “Chollyong 21” and “Chollyong 22” were also highly popular.

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.