WhatsApp support for BlackBerry and Nokia is about to end

WhatsApp support for handsets running BlackBerry 10 and Symbian S60 is about to end, but where can consumers turn to use the service? We unpack!

WhatsApp has become such a staple communication service to many of us, that the thought of being unable to use the service is nearly unimaginable. Unfortunately, that’ll soon be the case for many consumers using elder BlackBerry 10 and Nokia devices, as the Facebook-owned company is set to cease support for the service.
WhatsApp announced last year that it would conclude support for devices running BlackBerry 10 and Symbian operating systems, and later the company announced that it would extend support for each platform until June 30th of 2017. Unfortunately, the clock is now winding down.
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WhatsApp has advised consumers to upgrade their devices to newer models with a more recent build of an operating system – however, what platforms are advisable to avoid making another costly mistake, especially considering the expensive price tag most mobile devices carry in South Africa?

Avoid: Older iPhones running iOS 6 and earlier

WhatsApp similarly concluded support for older iPhones in December of 2016, and there was little impetus for the company to extend support for the platform as it did for both BlackBerry 10 and Symbian.
The app thus no longer supports elder iPhones, ruining an otherwise affordable upgrade trajectory for many South Africans. Thus, we recommend consumers opt for an iPhone 5s and upwards should they wish to stay aboard the compatibility train, as Apple recently ditched support for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c with the latest build of iOS 10.

Avoid: Android devices running 2.3 Gingerbread or earlier

A natural turning point for many South African consumers might be the plethora of affordable Android phones available on the market. Luckily, for many of us, most modern budget devices support Android 4.4 KitKat if not Android 5.0 Lollipop – meaning that the most of us can expect app support for a good while to come.
However, we advise that anyone seeking a second-hand Android phone avoid devices running 2.3 Gingerbread and below, and that the safest bet is likely a device running 5.0 Lollipop and above.

Avoid: Windows Phone 7 devices

WhatsApp dropped support for Windows Phone 7 devices in December of last year, and thankfully the declining market share occupied by Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile means that this will be less and less of a hassle for consumers.
However, given Microsoft’s porous mobile strategy, we advise that anyone seeking a Windows Phone device tread cautiously. Microsoft has seldom updated its mobile operating system, and recent rumours that the company has killed off the system could bode ill for WhatsApp support on the platform at a later date. If anything, we recommend devices running Windows 10 Mobile, and not Windows Phone 8.

Is there any hope?

Some potential remains for users on older hardware – Facebook, in recent months, has turned its attention to producing ‘Lite’ variants of its core apps such as Facebook and Messenger, and potential remains that the company could one day elect to produce a similarly lightweight counterpart for WhatsApp to service consumers with older or less powerful devices. However, at this stage that thought remains suppositional, and it would seem likely that WhatsApp will cater to the widest majority in years to come.
Read: Facebook plans to introduce a “Disputed” Tag and a “Dislike” Button

Have your say!

What are your thoughts? Will you be affected by WhatsApp’s plans to drop support for older devices, such as those running Symbian and BlackBerry 10? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA