From November 1, millions of WhatsApp users will no longer be able to access the popular encrypted messaging service.
The Facebook-owned app announced on its FAQ page that it was ending support for smartphones running older versions of iOS and Android. So now that we’re less than a month away, what does it mean for you?
If you’re using a phone that was released in the last five years, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be affected by the change.
But for those still hanging onto their trusty old iPhone or Samsung Galaxy from back in the day, it might be time for an upgrade.
Then again, if you’re still using one of these iPhone models, you may be due for an upgrade anyway.
What’s changing and what phones are affected?
Just about every major app releases regular updates to improve functionality, fix bugs and increase security.
However, as older versions of iOS and Android become more and more dated, it becomes increasingly difficult for developers to maintain support for the devices that operate those versions.
That’s essentially what’s happening with WhatsApp.
It’s estimated that more than 50 devices will be impacted by the change, including a range of older Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei smartphones. Basically, any device operating Android 4.0.4 (also called Android Ice Cream Sandwich) or older will no longer be able to access WhatsApp.
Android users have a slower adoption of new software updates than iPhone users, so it’s possible your older phone could be affected.
To find out, open Settings, then tap “About device” or “About phone” (note, you might find this under “System” on some devices). Depending on your phone, you may also have to tap “Software information” or “Android version”.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the relatively recent iPhone 6s (released in 2015) may also no longer support WhatsApp, depending on what iOS version it’s running.
The good news is that if your iPhone is eligible for a software update to iOS 10 or later, simply update and you’ll have no issues using WhatsApp.
To find out what version your iPhone is running, open Settings, tap “General”, then “About”. To check for software updates, go back and click “Software Update”.
What to do if your phone is no longer supported
If you’re one of the unlucky few affected by the change, you only have a couple of options.
First, you could ditch WhatsApp altogether and stick to SMS and MMS, though if WhatsApp is your messaging service of choice, that may not be possible. Second, you could bite the bullet and upgrade to a newer device.
The second option is your best bet, because lack of WhatsApp support aside, it’s important to note that running older versions of iOS and Android can also leave you vulnerable to attacks.
All smartphone manufacturers, from Apple to ZTE, don’t provide regular software updates forever. For most Android devices, you generally get around two to three years of guaranteed software updates from the device’s release date.
Apple, on the other hand, provides updates for anywhere between four and seven years.
In any case, you’ll want to backup all your WhatsApp data (including chat history, photos and videos).
To do this, open WhatsApp, go to Settings, tap ‘Chats’, then ‘Chat Backup’.
Once you’ve got your new device, you should be able to import your chat history from iCloud (if you’re on iPhone) or Google Drive (if you’re on Android).