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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

WhatsApp to withdraw support for older smartphones

Messaging service will stop updates for Blackberry, Windows Phone 8 or older

The WhatsApp messaging application will no longer be offering technology upgrades for certain older smartphones, meaning the service could stop functioning on such devices. Thomas White/ Reuters
The WhatsApp messaging application will no longer be offering technology upgrades for certain older smartphones, meaning the service could stop functioning on such devices. Thomas White/ Reuters

WhatsApp will stop releasing updates for older BlackBerrys and other smartphones from the end of the year, as part of a move away from older mobile operating platforms.

The messaging service, which has over 1.2 billion users across the world, will no longer offer upgrades for smartphones running BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 operating systems, or for Windows Phone devices running version 8.0 and earlier.

WhatsApp, which is owned by technology giant Facebook, withdrew its support for Nokia Symbian S60 in June.

“When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people’s use of mobile devices looked very different from today," WhatsApp said in a blog post on its website.

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"The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70 per cent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 per cent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time.”

“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” the blog post added.

Further support will be cut for Nokia S40 devices from December 31, 2018 and Android versions 2.3.7 and older after February 1, 2020.

WhatsApp’s advice to those who have one of the affected smartphones but want to continue using the service is simply to buy an upgraded device.

"If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone to continue using WhatsApp,” the blog post added.

The cutting of support for Nokia's Symbian OS and BlackBerry OS and 10 is symbolic of how fortunes have changed for two former smartphone leaders.

Nokia abandonded Symbian in 2011, embracing Microsoft's Windows Phone in an ultimately unsuccessful partnership. BlackBerry handsets ditched BlackBerry OS and 10 in 2015 in favour of Android.

Both Nokia and BlackBerry have since exited the smartphone business. But devices bearing the Nokia and BlackBerry brands are still being manufactured under licence by Finland's HMD and TCL of China, respectively.