Will WhatsApp stop working on phones today?

A whole host of articles have caused panic by suggesting that WhatsApp is about to stop working on “53 smartphones” – but most people look set to be able to continue chatting as before.

The new reports are just the latest in a series of reports suggesting that WhatsApp is about to stop working on older phones when a supposed 1 November deadline arrives. The latest run of them have presumably been published because that deadline is now less than a month away.

But many of the devices that are supposedly losing access are not doing so at all. At least some of the phones on that list of 53 devices are fine to keep using WhatsApp as they were before.

So while the 1 November deadline is real – WhatsApp has said that, from that date, it will not be supported on some older phones – it does not affect nearly as many phones as has been reported.

Many of the reports point to WhatsApp’s support page, which does indeed suggest that users need to have at least Android 4.0.4, or iOS 10. Any versions before that are not supported by WhatsApp, and so may lose their connection to the service, as claimed.

That restriction was added to the iOS page at some point around March this year, according to the Wayback Machine. WhatsApp has long been requiring that devices are updated to those newer versions of the operating system.

The 1 November date seemingly only applies to Android devices. On WhatsApp’s support page, there is a note specifically saying that older devices will lose their access to the service, because “WhatsApp will no longer support Android phones running OS 4.0.4 and older”.

“Please switch to a supported device or save your chat history before then,” WhatsApp advises. Instructions for doing so are listed later in this article.

But it may not be time to panic just yet, because the new cause for concern – the list of 53 devices that are supposedly covered by the change – is not quite correct.

The supposed list of 53 phones is large, though many of them are less mainstream devices. It does however include phones that were widely popular when they were bought, such as older iPhones and a range of Samsung Galaxy devices.

The trouble is that list appears to be wrong. It looks unusual – the iPhone 6s Plus is supposedly losing access, but the 6s is not listed, despite being the same phone in a different size – and that seems to be because it is not accurately correct.

For example, it lists three iPhones that will supposedly be no longer able to access WhatsApp for instance: the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. But all of those phones can get iOS 10 – which was supported all the way back to the iPhone 5 – and the iPhone 6s Plus is even able to download the latest iOS 15 update.

The quickest and most reliable way to know whether you will be affected is to see what operating system you have. To do that, click through to settings and find the version number; if it is lower than the required update, and there’s no option to download a new one, then you are most likely affected by the change.

If that is the case, then it might be time to either get a new device or save your chats in case you lose them, or both. Switching onto a new Android phone from an older one is relatively easy, though if you decide to switch for an iPhone it might prove slightly more complicated; either way, full details of what to do to change can be found on WhatsApp’s website.

You might also want to export your chat history so that you have it to hand in case something happens to your account or WhatsApp either because of the deadline or the change to a new phone. Instructions for doing that can be found on a different page on WhatsApp’s website.

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