When North Korea unveiled the Arirang smartphone last August, many experts questioned whether the device was truly a Korean invention or whether it was more like North Korea’s Samjiyon tablet, which turned out to be a clone of a Chinese tablet.
It turns out those doubts were justified, because new information has revealed that the Arirang AS1201 smartphone is in fact either a copy of or simply a rebranded version of the U1201 smartphone from Uniscope.
This smartphone maker is relatively unknown outside of its native China, but apparently it is well-known enough for North Korea to copy its tech. New side by side photos of the AS1201 and the U1201show a striking similarity between the smartphones. Sure, the home screen is different but the physical details are strikingly similar:
We don’t have complete details on the AS1201, but according tothe U1201 runs Android on a dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.2GHz CPU with 768MB RAM and 4GB storage. It has a 4.3″ screen with a resolution of 960 x 540, 2 cameras (2MP and 8 MP), 3G, and generally specs on the same level as a low priced budget smartphone – in 2013, anyway.
Given that Qualcomm is a US company, it is unlikely that this official North Korean smartphone still has a Snapdragon chip in it (it would be cause for a DOJ investigation). But aside from the change in the home screen (and the probable changes to lock down the Android OS) there’s little to say exactly how the two models differ.
From what I can see, no one has posted an extensive comparison of the devices, just a few photos. That’s probably because the AS1201 is difficult to find even in North Korea, much less out of it.