Emerging Technology

Analysts sceptical after North Korea announces smartphone

Andrew Sadauskas /

With South Korean tech giants Samsung and LG dominating the smartphone market, North Korea has decided to get in on the act – but the new device is leaving some leading analysts sceptical.

According to the Associated Press, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency is reporting dictator Kim Jong Un visited a factory where production has recently switched over to smartphones.

“He highly appreciated the creative ingenuity and patriotic enthusiasm with which the officials and employees of the factory laid a solid foundation for mass-producing hand phones by building a new modern hand phone production process,” the KCNA says.

While no technical specifications are available for the new devices, dubbed the “Airrang”, they appear to be running a version of Android.

However, the lack of footage actually showing the devices being manufactured has led some analysts, including Martyn Williams, to remain sceptical about whether the devices are manufactured in North Korea.

“The visit came two years and two weeks since Kim Jong Un last visited the factory. That time he accompanied his father, Kim Jong Il, on a tour of a flat-screen LCD TV assembly line. At the time I noted the production line shown in TV coverage of the visit didn’t look much like those in a typical electronics factory and the same is true this time around,” Williams says.

“Despite KCNA’s reporting that the handsets are made at the factory, they are probably made to order by a Chinese manufacturer and shipped to the May 11 Factory where they are inspected before going on sale.”

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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