WhatsApp will stop working on millions of smartphones. How to fix it?

WhatsApp has stopped working on millions of smartphones since October 24

From October 24, 2023, WhatsApp will stop working on all fourth-generation Android smartphones. The share of such devices worldwide accounts for about 0.4%. Although at first glance this share may seem small, in fact it affects millions of Android gadgets. Gazeta.Ru tells how to bypass the restriction using modified WhatsApp clients, as well as unofficial Android firmware for older smartphones, and whether it’s worth doing.

Time to say good-bye

On October 24, 2023, Meta Corporation (recognized as extremist in Russia and banned) will stop supporting outdated versions of Android for the popular WhatsApp messenger. Android versions such as 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 were officially declared obsolete. Google itself stopped supporting versions 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 back in 2021, the “obsolescence” of Android 4.4 was announced in July 2023, ten years after its release.

Google explained the decision to stop supporting all versions of fourth-generation Android by saying that they are relevant only to a small fraction of people, less than 1% of the entire Android audience. Meta made a similar argument in its statement .

Analytical services confirm that fourth-generation Android accounts for a small portion of users. Thus, according to  the AppBrain platform, the Android 4.4 version accounts for, at best, 0.4% of the entire Google OS audience.

While this number may seem small, it actually covers a huge number of devices.

Namely, about 12 million users, if we take into account that, according to official data , Android gadgets are used by more than 3 billion people all over the planet.

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The list of devices on which WhatsApp will stop working includes smartphones and tablets from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony and others, released between 2011 and 2013.

You can check which version of Android is installed on your smartphone or tablet by opening the settings and going to the “About device” section. In the new menu you need to select “Software Information” and then “Android Version”.

 

There is an exit

One of the features of Android is that you can install an application on this OS from a third-party source, that is, not from the official Google Play store. To do this, you need to download the installation file with the .apk extension into the smartphone’s memory and activate it on the mobile device. Enthusiasts have long been using this opportunity to create alternative clients for popular services, which often differ from the original applications in a modified interface and expanded functionality.

WhatsApp is no exception in this regard. There are dozens of alternative clients for the messenger. Here are the names of just a few of them: GBWhatsApp, YOWhatsApp, FMWhatsApp, WhatsApp Aero, Soula WhatsApp, MBWhatsApp, WhatsApp+.

As noted above, alternative clients have advanced functionality. For example, in GBWhatsApp it was possible to log in from two accounts at the same time long before this function appeared in the official version of WhatsApp, WhatsApp Aero will allow you to use animated backgrounds in chats, and in YOWhatsApp you can hide your online status.

In the context of Android obsolescence, alternative WhatsApp clients are also good because they are almost not controlled by Meta. This, in turn, allows enthusiastic developers to continue supporting older versions of the OS. Some of them have already started publishing versions of their applications for Android 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 on forums for gadget fans (like 4PDA or XDA).

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Advanced level

 

The situation is similar with Android itself. Some smartphone manufacturers allow you to download alternative versions of the OS, so-called firmware, to your devices.

The latter are often created by enthusiasts. As in the case of applications, alternative firmwares have expanded functionality relative to the original OS and a redesigned interface.

However, the main advantage of the firmware is that some of them are versions of Android much newer than those offered by the device manufacturer.

For example, for the Samsung Galaxy S2 there is no official version of Android newer than 4.4, therefore this smartphone is about to lose the ability to run WhatsApp. However, thanks to alternative firmwares, Android can be updated up to version 9.0 on this device.

However, installing firmware on a smartphone is much more complicated than installing an alternative client. The procedure requires certain skills and knowledge from the user, and also carries the risk of complete breakdown of the gadget.

 

Possible doesn’t mean necessary

 

Gadget failure is a terrible, but not the only problem that threatens enthusiasts who want to continue using WhatsApp on an outdated smartphone. Communicating with Gazeta.Ru, information security experts warned that using alternative messenger clients and downloading firmware are extremely dangerous procedures for users’ personal data.

“I highly recommend not using modified WhatsApp clients. Unofficial application sources do not bear any responsibility to users for the code of distributed applications.

And the likelihood of receiving from such a source, in addition to basic functions, a malicious load built into a legitimate application, is orders of magnitude higher. This applies to applications of any purpose, including instant messengers,” said Pavel Kuznetsov , product director of the Garda group of companies .

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According to him, a similar statement is identical for developers of unofficial firmware. The expert does not rule out that in both cases, a malicious program could be accidentally downloaded onto a smartphone, which could steal payment information from a banking application.

“The best thing, of course, is to stop using an outdated smartphone altogether. However, if this is not possible, I can make two recommendations. The first is to use so-called overlay protection tools, for example mobile antiviruses. The second is to observe the rules of digital hygiene. In the context of OS aging, this recommendation primarily applies to the use of official applications. Be it WhatsApp or any other online service. Even if a person doesn’t have a new smartphone, he probably has a computer. It can run the browser version of WhatsApp, which is probably safer than a client from an unknown source,” he said.