Most prominent politicians let their staff manage their communications, but Donald Trump is famous for his unfiltered, direct communication with the outside world. And on the campaign trail, Trump’s Android smartphone was his most important communication tool. His most controversial tweets consistently came from his personal phone, and he spent a lot of time talking to people on it too.
But as he becomes president today, Trump is being forced to trade in his trusty Android phone for “a secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service,” according to the New York Times. If Trump had continued to use his old Android phone, it could have put him at greater risk of attack from foreign governments and others wanting to intercept his communications.
The world has changed a lot in the past eight years. When Barack Obama took office in 2009, it was a struggle to be allowed to use a smartphone at all. Obama had been an avid BlackBerry user on the campaign trail, but he faced pressure to give up the phone once he took the oath of office for security reasons. Eventually he convinced security officials to provide him with a special, locked-down BlackBerry with some functionality disabled.
US security officials have now had eight years to think about how to build a secure mobile device for the president, and so Trump’s new device is presumably more capable than the one Obama got eight years ago. But it remains to be seen if Trump will be satisfied with his new device or the strictures of the presidency. Trump has made clear that he intends to continue tweeting in the White House, and he spends a lot of time talking on the phone — a source of irritation to aides who try to keep Trump on script.