WhatsApp will break on older phones January 1 — what you need to know

(Image credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

WhatsApp will stop supporting older smartphones and OS versions from January 1. An FAQ post explains that you’ll need to be running Android 4.0.1 or newer, iOS 9 or newer or select KaiOS 2.5.1  (or newer) handsets to continue using the encrypted messaging service next year.

That means the iPhone 4 and all its earlier models will lose access, as will all Windows phones, support for which Whatsapp is ditching entirely.

The FAQ also explains that you won’t be able to transfer your chat history between platforms, only to export it as an email attachment. That’s another reason to make sure that if you want to keep using Whatsapp and can update your phone’s OS to a compatible version, you should.

The iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S should all be able to update to the latest version of iOS, iOS 14. You can check your current version by opening Settings, navigating to the General menu then tapping Software Update – if the listed version is iOS 9 or higher, you don’t have to do anything to make sure Whatsapp will still work, but you can still update by tapping Download and Install in the Software Update menu.

On Android, you can check your current version by opening Settings and tapping on the About Phone section. If you need to update beyond version 4.0.1, go back  to Settings, find the System menu option then tap System Update.

This should cover the vast majority of Android handsets as 4.0.1 was released all the way back in 2011, but if your device is old enough that a sufficiently recent version is compatible, consider an affordable upgrade with our list of the best cheap phones.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.