WhatsApp will stop supporting smartphones running Android versions 4.0.4 or older from 1 November 2021. The company has updated its supported Android devices page, revealing that users will now need to run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or later to use the app.
Currently, WhatsApp officially supports Android smartphones running Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later. Although users on older devices may still get the app to work, it likely won’t function as intended and won’t receive important security updates.
WhatsApp advised users on smartphones that cannot run the required Android versions to switch to a supported device or to back up their chat history before then.
The number of users affected by this change is likely to be small when compared to the overall Android user base.
Android 4.1 has been around since 2012, and is available on age-old Samsung devices like the original Galaxy Note and Galaxy S2. WhatsApp will therefore stop working on the original Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab 10.1 come November.
Support for upgrades vary between operators and countries, so it is possible that South Africans using older smartphones have not received an upgrade to Android 4.1 that may be available elsewhere in the world.
According to Statcounter, more than 98% of Android users were running version Android 5.1 (Lollipop) or above as of July 2021.
This does not include the fraction of users with Android 4.1, 4.2, or 4.3, which will all still be supported. Google estimates these users to account for less than 1% of the base.
This leaves around 1% of users that may still be on Android 4.0.4 or earlier.
Although users on Android 4.1 will still be able to use WhatsApp, it should be noted that Google recently also pushed its last-ever Play Services update to the operating system this month.
Without further updates to the service, certain apps will become difficult to run or may stop working entirely. In addition, the devices will be exposed to more security threats than they already were, given that Google stopped general Android security updates to the OS a long time ago.
WhatsApp updates its list of supported devices every few months. The company’s previous amendment of supported devices in March dropped support for iOS 9, meaning that the iPhone 4S would no longer be able to run the app properly.
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