WhatsApp will no longer work on a bunch of phones – but your odds of being okay are pretty good in South Africa

Business Insider SA
  • WhatsApp is dropping support for old versions of the Android and iOS operating systems, and for Windows phones, over the first months of 2020.
  • A long list of phone models from companies such as Samsung and Apple are affected – and there is a chance your phone could be among them.
  • But in South Africa that chance is vanishingly small, usage statistics suggest. Chances are you'll be okay.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

As of 1 January, WhatsApp will no longer work on any phone using the Windows OS. From February, older versions of Android and Apple's iOS operating system will also fall by the wayside, effectively making it impossible for a long range of handsets to use the service at all.

But the number of South Africans who will be affected is tiny, local statistics suggest – and chances are you'll be okay.

WhatsApp officially supports three smartphone operating systems: Android 4.0.3 and higher, Apple's iOS from version 9, and "selected phones" on the KaiOS system of at least version 2.5.1.

Older versions of both Android and iOS can already not create new WhatsApp accounts or re-verify existing ones – and will lose all access to the WhatsApp service on 1 February.

Support for the Windows Phone operating systems – of all versions – ended on 31 December.

Because older hardware can not always run newer operating systems, those limits apply to specific handsets. The once hugely popular iPhone 4, for instance, can not upgrade to a WhatsApp-supported version of iOS. Likewise many top-selling Samsung Galaxy phones from previous generations can not be upgraded to modern versions of Android.

But even though such handsets were hugely popular in South Africa, new data drawn from tens of millions of visits to the News24 network – the largest collection of websites in South Africa – shows that only a fraction of a percent of South Africans will be affected.

During November and December, the percentage of News24 users with affected version of Android was too small to usefully express as a percentage – and represented only 0.00001% of everyone using Android.

Users of iOS below version 8 represented just 0.02% of all users.

Windows Phone users were more common, but still represented just 0.7% of the total population of readers who visited a News24 site.

Here's how to double-check if the version of Android or iOS on your phone is too old for Whatsapp.

For Android, go to settings, which you can typically do by pulling down from the top of the screen and selecting the gear icon that is most often near the top right corner. Search for "Android version", or scroll down to a menu named "system" or similar, where you will find the option "about phone". If the "Android version" listed is at least 4.0.3, you are good to go.

On an iPhone, go to settings by tapping the gear-style icon on the home screen. Go to "general", then to "about". If the number under "software version" is 9 or higher, you are okay.

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