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In brief: It should come as no surprise when regularly-updated apps and services drop support for older hardware and operating systems. WhatsApp users with older iPhones need to mark their calendars for the end of service on iOS 10 and iOS 11 this fall.
This week, WABetaInfo obtained a screenshot of a warning WhatsApp sent to iOS users. Starting October 24, the app will only support iOS versions 12 and later. The WhatsApp help center and iTunes pages list iOS 12 as the oldest compatible version.
Since last March, WhatsApp has supported iOS version 10 and newer. Dropping iOS 10 and 11 means users who still have an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5c will have to back up their data and upgrade their phones to continue using WhatsApp after October. The oldest iPhone that can run iOS 12 is the 5s.
WhatsApp seems to change its oldest supported firmware roughly once a year, in sync with Apple's cessation of security updates. Apple's iOS 12 is the oldest version to receive recent security updates, the latest being iOS 12.5.5 from September. The last iOS 11 update was in 2018. Oddly, iOS 10 got its last update in 2019.
The deadline will come almost a year after WhatsApp discontinued Android 4.0.4 support last November. Including iOS 12, the oldest other mobile operating systems WhatsApp runs on are Android 4.1 and KaiOS 2.5.0 and newer. Telegram Messenger still has support going back to iOS 9.