Which phone do lawmakers like the most?

Greg Nash

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The popularity of Apple devices among members of Congress far outstrips that of any other brand, a survey by The Hill has found.

Of the 102 lawmakers whose offices responded to The Hill’s questions, more than 71 percent use iPhones. Among those using tablets, 95 percent are iPads.

{mosads}Those figures compare with just 9 percent of lawmakers with an Android phone and 28 percent with a BlackBerry. Many lawmakers have more than one phone, including at least two who have a flip phone in addition to their smartphones. 

Congress is much more Apple-friendly than the nation as a whole. Across the country, about 42 percent of smartphone owners have an iPhone and 52 percent have an Android, according to analytics company comScore.

Lawmakers have not been shy about showing their affection for the Cupertino, Calif., brand.

“I love Apple. I love Apple,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told CEO Tim Cook last year, when he testified on his company’s tax practices. Cook’s appearance on Capitol Hill quickly turned into a love-fest for the company.

“I harassed my husband until he converted to a MacBook. I’m very proud of Apple as an American company,” McCaskill added.

McCaskill has an iPhone, iPad and a MacBook Air, her office said.

“We love the iPhone and the iPad. People in Mexico and Canada love the iPhone and the iPad,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said at the time, whipping out an iPad. “I’ve got one right here!”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who represents the Silicon Valley district that includes Apple’s headquarters, also has the full suite of an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air — and he’s looking into picking up one of the company’s new Apple Watches, spokesman Ken Scudder said.

Just one lawmaker’s office told The Hill it has a Windows phone: Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), a former Microsoft executive who now represents the district that includes the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

DelBene’s staffers use Windows phones as well, her office said.

Capitol Hill’s Apple fandom is “not surprising,” said Jeff Kagan, an industry analyst.

Not only are Apple devices marketed extremely well and considered industry leaders, they are also considered more secure than Android, he said. That could be important for lawmakers with heightened concerns about their digital security.

Not every member of Congress even uses a cellphone, however.

At least two lawmakers whose offices responded to The Hill — Reps. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) — do not use a cellphone.

Instead, Pastor gets messages from his staffers “the old-fashioned way,” his office said, and uses a landline.

As for Coble, “he is 83 years old,” his office said, without further explanation.

Both lawmakers are scheduled to retire at the end of this year. Pastor may consider getting a cellphone when his term ends, his office said.

When it comes to most of their work, many lawmakers prefer the portability of a tablet — which is easy to grab while running to votes or jumping on a plane heading back home — to a desktop or laptop computer.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is one of them.

“The Speaker begins every day by reading the news on his iPad,” spokesman Kevin Smith said in an email. “With his packed schedule, the Speaker prefers using mobile devices to stay organized.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) uses her pink-clad iPad daily and describes it “as her fifth appendage,” according to an aide.

The Democratic National Committee chairwoman is also “a huge Instagram fan,” her spokesman said, and uses the iPad to update an account showcasing her “healthy and clean” cooking.

News apps are common on lawmakers’ devices, as are services that give weather, traffic and travel information.

“I depend on knowing the latest weather, especially since I live on an island and getting back and forth can be very weather dependent,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who lives on the island of North Haven, which does not have a bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) is a pilot and uses the ForeFlight app to check navigation, weather and other important aviation information. 

Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) said they were fans of Capitol Bells, an app developed by a former Capitol Hill staffer that decodes the Capitol’s buzzer system and lets the general public follow along.

A few lawmakers have begun to explore the nascent market for wearable devices, such as bracelets that track the number of steps they take.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who founded a computer consulting company before coming to Congress, has a Fitbit and Google Glass. His daughters have “commandeered” and temporarily “bought” them from him, Farenthold said, “but I’m about to repo them back.”

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) has a Fitbit Flex and uses it to compete with other lawmakers, he said. A dozen other legislators in both chambers said that they, too, use Fitbits, Nike FuelBands or some other kind of health tracking device.

“When I don’t misplace it, I love checking in on my progress,” Marino said in a statement. “I’m a competitive guy so it’s good to have some friendly challenges among colleagues.”

“I frequently out-pace them, but I’m a top walker for sure,” he added.

Megan Caldwell, Leann Doerflein, Crystal Hill, Niki Papadogiannakis and Eliza Schmitt contributed.

Tags Blake Farenthold Boehner Carl Levin Claire McCaskill Ed Pastor John Boehner Suzan DelBene
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