Some Android phones are about to be cut off from many websites

Time for an upgrade.

If you’re still holding on to your Samsung Galaxy S6 or any other smartphone that hasn’t been updated beyond Android 7.1.1 Nougat, it may finally be time to throw in the towel and upgrade. Why? It’s kind of a complicated answer.

Let’s Encrypt is a large online authority that issues security certificates to websites (you know, ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’ at the start of addresses), thereby keeping both you and the website safer. For the last several years, Let’s Encrypt has done this with the help of another group called IdenTrust, but as of 11 January 2021, the partnership between the two is set to expire with no plans of entering a new one. Moving forward, Let’s Encrypt will use their own certificate, which Android 7.1.1 and earlier will not trust.

“Some software that hasn’t been updated since 2016 (approximately when our root was accepted to many root programs) still doesn’t trust our root certificate, ISRG Root X1,” lead developer Jacob Hoffman-Andrews wrote in a blog post. “Most notably, this includes versions of Android prior to 7.1.1. That means those older versions of Android will no longer trust certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt.”

Jargon aside, what does this mean for older Android users? Essentially, if you want access to any and all websites without being barred from a large chunk of them, you’ll have to upgrade to a newer device. Approximately 34 per cent of Android users are currently using a version of the operating system that is no longer compatible with the new certificate. To check if you’re one of them, open Settings, then About Phone or About Device, and you should see your phone’s current Android version.

If you’re one of the third of people affected by the change but don’t know what your next smartphone should be, check out the most popular Android devices currently available.

Alternatively, if you’ve been thinking of switching to Apple, take a look at plans for the most popular iPhone models below.

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