Now that he’s President of the United States, Donald Trump’s mobile phone use has become a national security issue.
We all know about Trump’s penchant for Twitter, but what type of device is he using to post his messages, and is it secure? Read on for details.
1. Before Taking Office, Trump Used a Samsung Galaxy
Before he became president, Trump used a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, according to an October 2015 report from The New York Times. The exact model is unknown, but based on an analysis of the few photos out there of Trump using his smartphone, the folks over at Android Central believe it was the Galaxy S3. A photo from February 2016 showed Trump using what appeared to be the same Galaxy S3, which was originally released in 2012, as a presidential candidate.
During the presidential campaign, Data Scientist David Robinson conducted an analysis of the tweets from Trump’s Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump, and concluded that posts coming from Trump himself were written on an Android, while those from his “handler” originated from an iPhone.
Trump’s Android-sent Tweets were generally more hyperbolic relying heavily on negative words like “badly,” “crazy” and “weak” to describe his adversaries, according to the study. Trump’s iPhone messages, on the other hand, struck a more positive tone.
“My analysis … concludes that the Android and iPhone tweets are clearly from different people, posting during different times of day and using hashtags, links, and retweets in distinct ways,” Robinson wrote. “What’s more, we can see that the Android tweets are angrier and more negative, while the iPhone tweets tend to be benign announcements and pictures.”
2. Trump Was Reluctant to Hand Over His Android, But Did
The Times in late November, citing Trump’s aides, reported that the then president-elect was hesitant to hand over his Android phone.
“He is worried, his aides say, that he will not be able to keep his Android phone once he gets to the White House and wonders aloud how isolated he will become — and whether he will be able to keep in touch with his friends — without it as president,” the newspaper reported.
In the weeks leading up to his inauguration, Trump was still using his personal Android and calling back unknown numbers, as the Associated Press reported:
A few hours after President-elect Donald Trump was briefed by intelligence officials about Russian meddling in the election, an Associated Press reporter called his cellphone seeking an interview.
The call went to voicemail and the reporter did not leave a message. About an hour later, Trump called back.
The news outlet reported that Trump on Jan. 19 — the day before he took the oath of office — told a friend that he had indeed given up his phone, at the request of security agencies.
3. President Obama Used a Dumbed-Down ‘Toddler’ Phone
If history is any indication, Trump’s mobile phone for the next four years will be pretty locked down by the National Security Agency.
Barack Obama was the first US president to use a cell phone while in office. When he first became president, Obama was allowed to keep his Blackberry, but the NSA modified the device so he could only contact his closest advisors, according to CNN. During his last year in office, Obama was allowed to ditch the Blackberry for an iPhone, but that device also had many of its features wiped away for security reasons, including the ability to take photos, text, make calls, or play music. He could only really use the iPhone to email with a select group of people, browse the Web, and read the news.
Obama last year on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show griped about the smartphone, which he compared to a play phone for toddlers. Check out the video above.
4. Trump Got a New, Secret Service-Approved Mobile Device
It’s still unclear what type of smartphone Trump is using as president, but the Times reported that he ditched the old Android in favor of a “secure, encrypted device” that was approved by the Secret Service.
It seems the days of Trump taking calls from random unknown numbers are over for the time being. Alongside the new phone, he also got a new number that only a few people know, a according to the Times. That should make his new aides happy, some of whom were “blindsided when a reporter, outside adviser or officeseeker dialed the president-elect directly,” the report noted.
Given that it was approved by the Secret Service, Trump’s new phone probably can’t send texts, take photos, or play music.
5. Concerns About His Old Phone Persist
Though reports indicate that Trump gave up his Android phone in favor of something more secure, the Times on Jan. 25 reported that he was still using his old handset to do one thing: tweet.
When Trump assumed the position of Commander in Chief, he also inherited Obama’s Twitter handle, @POTUS, but most of Trump’s action on Twitter still comes from his personal account.
Since moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Trump has been using “his old, unsecured Android to post on Twitter,” raising national security concerns, the Times wrote, contradicting earlier reports that he got rid of the device.
Using the phone on an insecure Wi-Fi network could reveal his location and other data on the device, the report noted. Hackers could also potentially breach Trump’s smartphone if he were to click on a malicious link inside a tweet or message, then turn on the camera or microphone to spy.
It would be pretty bad if Trump is still tweeting from the same Galaxy S3 he appeared to be using in February 2016. As Android Central pointed out, that handset hasn’t been updated since 2015, meaning it lacks important Android security patches available to newer models.