Obama Dumps His Blackberry For 'Play Phone'

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 - 8:46


He can’t make calls, send texts, play music or take pictures for security reasons

When it comes to smartphones, the world is moving fast. So has U.S. President Barack Obama, who has bid goodbye to his “increasingly rare” BlackBerry device which he was using since before he took office.

Appearing on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, Mr. Obama said he had been given a brand new device (currently unnamed) which is “so locked down for security reasons that I can’t call, play music, send texts or take pictures,” The Verge reported on Monday.

“It’s like one of those ‘play phones’ you’d give to a three-year-old,” Mr. Obama told the TV host.

Mr. Obama has been joking about his phone situation for years now. While his BlackBerry was considered high-tech when he came into office, the situation quickly changed. As far back as 2010, he called using the BlackBerry “no fun”, and then lamented that security concerns prevented him from using an iPhone.

Since BlackBerry devices have gradually been shown the door by Android and iOS-based smartphones and many app developers are leaving its platform, the U.S. authorities feel the new Android and iOS devices have strong security measures like end-to-end message encryption.

The New York Times reported in April that some White House staffers were upgrading to Apple’s iPhones.

The National Security Agency first set up the extra-secured BlackBerry for Mr. Obama in 2008. It had a special security software called Secure Voice. The device was stripped of every built-in feature — even no selfie-camera or texting functionality — that was at the risk of hacking.

According to media reports, the BlackBerry was limited to calling only about 10 numbers also packed with the same encryption, including Vice-President Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s Chief of Staff, his press secretary, the First Lady Michelle Obama and a few other family members.

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