Kim Jong-un’s kingdom has released the handset, dubbed the Pyongyang 2425, as it continues to try and modernise.
It is powered by an eight-core processor, has facial recognition technology and can be charged wirelessly.
The phone also can’t connect to the internet beyond North Korea’s state-run Mirae wifi, an intranet system brimming with propaganda.
It is also incapable of connecting to foreign wifi and won’t even allow users to open photos and ringtones that come on the phone as standard.
North Korea authorities keep a tight grip of information drip fed to the masses with a steady stream of state-approved news bulletins.
“North Korea could have ordered the production of the phones”
South Korean news service Daily NK, having acquired one of the new phones, checked its serial number and found it was made by a Chinese manufacturer.
Experts say the phones were likely imported as a finished product before North Korean software was installed.
“North Korea could have ordered the production of the phones with the mutual understanding that they would replace the software,” one expert said on the condition of anonymity.
“While changing the software can lead to some problems in functionality, regardless of the type of hardware used, North Korea could have changed the phone’s software after importing it.”
Propaganda photos of the new gadget showed that apps for learning Chinese and English can be installed, along with a government-approved encyclopedia and a weather app.
There’s also a library app which resembles past incarnations of Apple Books and which appears to give users access to state-sanctioned reading material.
However, because of the lack of internet, North Koreans haven’t previously been able to download apps themselves and have had to go to a physical stores where technicians install them.
It’s unclear whether that will change with the Pyongyang 2425.
“The Pyongyang 2425 comes with enhanced features, praised by many customers,” boasted one propaganda outlet.
“Its eight-core CPU has boosted the processing speed by 150% and the touchscreen experience has become smoother.
“Facial recognition features use an infrared camera that allows users to unlock the screen even in dark places without having to place their fingers or type in a password.”
Approximately 40% of North Koreans use smartphones, according to research conducted by the North-East Asia Community ICT Forum.
Propaganda suggests the phones are used to play games, read books, listen to music, do karaoke, learn to cook, and even to increase crop output.
A joint-survey by the UN and the World Food Programme found that high temperatures, drought in some areas and flooding in others had severely harmed the 2018 autumn harvest in North Korea.
As a consequence, the survey said, more than 10 million of the country’s 25 million people were now facing food insecurity.
It comes as North Korea is suspected of detaining an Australian student – with his family and diplomats fearing he has been arrested in Pyongyang.