This article was published on September 14, 2013

8 major world figures and their smartphones: Obama’s BlackBerry, Kim Jong Un’s HTC and beyond

8 major world figures and their smartphones: Obama’s BlackBerry, Kim Jong Un’s HTC and beyond
Kaylene Hong
Story by

Kaylene Hong

Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.

It’s the weekend, and we’re rounding out this week chock full of new smartphone announcements with a roundup of world leaders and their smartphones of course. Inspired by a Chinese media report, here are a couple of dignitaries across the world and their favorite gadgets.

US President Barack Obama

US President Obama made the news in 2009 when he fought a fierce battle with Secret Service to keep his trusty BlackBerry with him when he took on the nation’s top role, and so far, he’s been BlackBerry’s most high-profile fan.

US President Barack Obama uses his Black

Not the entire Obama family has such an overwhelming attachment to BlackBerry though. At the president’s second inauguration earlier this year, his daughters showed their love for Apple’s iPhone.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un

On the other side of the political spectrum, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un makes an appearance in Techweb’s reportnot with his country’s apparent self-manufactured phone “Arirang”, but with a HTC — specifically the HTC Butterfly, a top-tier handset on par with the company’s flagship HTC One. The Butterfly also comes in a limited edition Hello Kitty version; maybe Kim will want to buy one for his daughter, the existence of whom ex-NBA player Dennis Rodman revealed this week.


Chinese First Lady Peng Li Yuan

We don’t know what smartphone Chinese President Xi Jinping uses (it seems that he has not been photographed in public with a smartphone yet), but his wife Peng Li Yuan was caught on camera recently using -gasp- Apple’s iPhone 5.

So much for blasting Apple’s policies — still, Apple CEO Tim Cook did apologize to Chinese consumers, so maybe the country’s leaders are free to use it now. Xi does not look very impressed though.


Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Elsewhere in Asia, Thailand’s first female prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not only have one smartphone — she uses a total of five — one of which is a white Nokia Lumia 920.


Russian President Vladimir Putin

Back in 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had no mobile phone. However, Techweb notes that since 2012, Putin has been using Russian smartphone MTS-Glonass 945, an Android device.


Britain’s Royal Family

Crossing over to Europe, the British Royal Family is apparently in love with Apple. Prince William was seen using the iPhone at the Summer Olympics last year, as was Prince Harry. Even Queen Elizabeth II reportedly ordered staff to buy her an iPad.

Great Britain's Prince Williams (C), his

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

On the other hand, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is a fan of BlackBerry — so much so that when in Dubai last year his phone decided to ‘ping’ during a Q&A session, he openly took it out to show the audience.

Given that the BlackBerry is clearly a major deal for global leaders, it makes the claim that the UK Government Communications Headquarters allegedly managed to penetrate the security on delegates’ BlackBerry smartphones — while hosting foreign politicians and officials during two Group of 20 summit meetings in London in 2009 — even more shocking.

Olympics Day 12 - Around the Games

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Rounding off this post is German Chancellor Angela Merkel — one of the rare government heads who has actually come out to endorse a mobile phone — in this case the BlackBerry Z10.


She didn’t look all that pleased with the phone at some point in time though. Maybe she already suspected that the struggling BlackBerry would land up in a situation in which it has to find a new backer willing to take the company or one that is happy to partner with the handset maker under a joint venture or other strategic partnership.


Well, these are a couple of phones used by some of the most powerful people in the world. What do you think of their choices?

Headline image via Thinkstock, Image credits: Saul Loeb via AFP/Getty Images, AFP PHOTO/ KCNA VIA KNS, Elizabeth Ruiz via AFP/Getty Images, Yingluck Shinawatra’s Facebook Page, Alexey Druzhinin via AFP/Getty Images, Carl de Souza via AFP/Getty Images, John Stillwell via Getty Images, Julian Stratenschulte via AFP/Getty Images

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