Donald Trump seems to have finally traded in his old and unsecured Android phone — for a new iPhone.
White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted tonight that Trump had switched to the Apple device, saying that he had been using it for "the past couple of weeks," and confirming that Twitter messages marked as coming from an iPhone were indeed from the president himself.
Twitter users noticed that some of Trump's tweets appeared to be sent from an iPhone over the last few weeks, but it wasn't clear whether they were written by his own hand, or by staff members on secondary devices. Trump has been criticized in the past for using an old, unsecured, off-the-shelf Android smartphone while operating in the highest office. The president was originally believed to have handed in his Android phone — thought to be a Samsung device — ahead of his inauguration on January 20th, but five days later, it was reported that he was still using it to send tweets.
The president's phone habits worried members of Congress, and even senators, two of whom wrote a letter in February of this year to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Their complaints were twofold: first, that the device didn't leave a presidential paper trail; and second, that the unsecured phone was an open invitation to hackers. That concern was renewed later in the month when Trump was pictured using his phone flashlight to illuminate security briefings detailing North Korean missile launches, while visiting his Mar-a-lago resort.
The change also signifies an apparent thawing of his attitudes toward Apple. Trump called for a boycott of the company's products while on his campaign trail, citing Apple's refusal to unlock the phone involved in last year's San Bernardino shootings. Speaking at a rally in February 2016, Trump said he used both Samsung and Apple smartphones, but would ditch his iPhone until Apple capitulated to FBI requests, and handed over the code. Apple, famously, did not assist the government in accessing the phone.
His new iPhone may be a more secure option than his unsupported older model, but that certainly won't allay all security fears. Apple's phones are still vulnerable to dedicated hackers, and in the hands of one of the most powerful people on Earth, they're likely to present a juicy target — especially if he's using an off-the-shelf model. Perhaps a better option would be to do as president Obama did, making do with a locked-down device that serves as little more than a "play phone." But given Trump's passion for tweeting, that solution may not be to his liking.
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