WhatsApp will drop very old Android smartphones: how to check if you are concerned

WhatsApp announces the upcoming discontinuation of support for some very old versions of Android, released over nine years ago. The end of support is set for November 1, 2021.

Very old versions of Android still supported by WhatsApp will soon be discontinued. A message published in the help pages of the mobile application warns of a change in a few weeks: from November 1, 2021, all smartphones with version 4.0.4 will no longer be supported. This also applies to the lower branches.

To avoid an interruption of service, an operating system update should be carried out as soon as possible, assuming this is possible. Indeed, not all smartphones have access to all Android updates: some models that are too old – because they already had a few years on the clock – may have been abandoned by their manufacturers.

If the update is technically not possible, instant messaging may stop working. People in this situation should then consider acquiring a newer mobile, which has access to a recent version of Android. In addition, the mobile application suggests saving the discussions first, just in case.

The WhatsApp messaging app. // Source: CCO / Flickr

How do you know if this applies to you?

There are three ways to check if this change affects you. First of all, you just have to ask yourself the question of the age of your smartphone: if yours was released on the market less than ten years ago, and you acquired it in stride, no worries. have: it came by default with a newer version of Android (for example 4.4, 7 or 10, depending on when you made your purchase).

You may also be wondering when you last updated your Android smartphone. Even for smartphones released nine, ten or eleven years ago, manufacturers make sure to offer support for a few years each time. Clearly, phones have had access to more recent branches – for example Android 4.1, which arrived in July 2012.

An example of a screen to control its Android version.

The ideal, however, is to check the version of Android directly in your smartphone. The path to access it can change from one smartphone to another (and especially from one generation of Android to another) but as a general rule you have to go to the settings of your OS, go down to a section called “About phone” and find the indication “Android version”. A number is then displayed.

WhatsApp has provided support for almost 10 years

Android 4.0.4 is an evolution of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) dating from October 2011. Android 4.0.4 itself was released in March 2012, nine and a half years ago, which means that smartphones which run with this OS are from this period, even older still. Since then, nine major versions of Android have been released and a tenth is due to arrive this year.

The point is that most of the time, a smartphone is renewed at a relatively frequent rate, between two and four years. In fact, the number of people who could be affected by WhatsApp’s decision is reduced. According to statistics from February 2021, the combined market share of all Android versions below Android 4.0.4 is barely 0.2% of the total.

Given the very advanced age displayed by Android 4.0.4 (more than nine years on the clock, which is antediluvian in a market where the smartphone is renewed at a closer horizon) and the residual market share of this version (even if we can argue that at the Android scale, a market share of 0.2% represents tens or hundreds of thousands of customers), the decision of WhatsApp is defended.

This is not the first time that instant messaging has become detached from OS that are too old or that end in a dead end: the company has already announced similar decisions in the past for Android and iOS, but also for systems operating systems that ended up disappearing for lack of an outlet: BlackBerry OS, Symbian OS or Windows Phone.

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