The day has come. We knew it was upon us, we prepared for it, we stocked supplies just in case it brought on the apocalypse, and now all we can do is brace ourselves for impact. Tomorrow, WhatsApp will stop working on devices running Android 2.3.7. Your collector Galaxy S, Desire HD, Nexus One, Droid X2, and other phones from that era will sadly become a little less useful from then on.
WhatsApp had warned us about this impending doom in 2017, but still, three years isn’t necessarily long enough to prepare for such a colossal loss. If you’re on the other side of the mobile divide, iOS 8 is also being canned. WhatsApp officially supports Android 4.0.3+ and iOS 9+ now.
According to the latest Android distribution numbers, which date back to May of 2019, the dismissed Gingerbread (2.3) still accounted for 0.3% of active Android devices. (That’s probably more than Android 10’s current share — ouch!) Despite their resilience and refusal to die, these gorgeous retro phones with the beautifully rare headphone jack commodity, physical buttons, and single camera on the back, will now have to face the same music Froyo once did before them. I’m not saying it was WhatsApp’s dumping of Android 2.2 that caused Froyo’s market regression, but the timing was certainly fortuitous.
If you’re still using a Gingerbread device or know someone who is, first I would like to applaud you for keeping the battery and screen alive, and for having enough patience to handle that tiny amount of storage and RAM, but most importantly, please upgrade. Not for WhatsApp, not for features, but for security. Android was a lot looser with what it allowed nefarious sites and apps to do back then.
This also raises the question of the disposability of technology products. Gingerbread phones are less than a decade old, but they’ve been nearly obsolete for several years already — this was one of the last nails in their coffin. That lifespan is a lot shorter than we’re used to for most electronics and appliances, and it’s getting even shorter still. We should start advocating for a clearer “expiry date” for gadgets (especially now with the advent of smart home products), a sustainable way to get rid of them when they’re past that date, and an affordable upgrade path for users who can’t splurge on a new phone or computer every couple of years.
For now, though, just turn off that dang Gingerbread phone and check around you for a good place to send it back to recycling.