Not all mobile phones will be able to support the NHS’ contact-tracing app

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:14 pm

Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:15 pm

While the NHS‘ contact-tracing app has been hailed by its creators as instrumental in helping the country “return to normality and beating coronavirus,” questions still remain over how effective it will be.

One major stumbling block is the app’s lack of compatibility with smartphones that do not run either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating systems. While the two systems are the most dominant in the UK, a small percentage of the UK smartphones are still running Windows, BlackBerry or others. While 79 per cent of UK adults use smartphones, many will either own non-smart mobile phones or do not own either kind of device.

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Not only does the device need to be a smartphone (the app cannot work on laptops or PCs), it needs to be new enough to support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4 technology, which it uses to identify passing phones also running the app, and run relatively recent software.

Handsets that aren’t recent enough to run the app may not be able to find the NHS Covid-19 app in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The iPhones currently capable of running the app

Global mobile phone sales are likely to slump to their lowest in a decade (Photo: Getty)

The NHS has tested the app successfully on all the below iPhones, which need to be running iOS 11 software (which was released in 2018) or above to ensure it has the highest possible security features.

Other models may be added as they’re found to support the app, as the NHS acknowledges other iPhone models not listed below could still run it providing they’re equipped with BLE 4 or above and run iOS 11 or above.

  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6S
  • Phone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max

The Android-running handsets currently capable of running the app

Android handsets need to be running Android 8 or above (Photo: Shutterstock)

Android handsets also need to sport BLE 4 technology and to run Android 8 (Oreo) or above, which was released in 2017. Again, the NHS will update the list of compatible handsets accordingly.

  • Samsung-A10
  • Samsung-A20e
  • Samsung-A40
  • Samsung-A70
  • Samsung-Galaxy A5
  • Samsung-Galaxy A6
  • Samsung-Galaxy J5
  • Samsung-Galaxy Note 8
  • Samsung-Galaxy Note 9
  • Samsung-Galaxy S10
  • Samsung-Galaxy S10 Plus
  • Samsung-Galaxy S6
  • Samsung-Galaxy S7
  • Samsung-Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Samsung-Galaxy S8
  • Samsung-Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung-Galaxy S9
  • Samsung-Galaxy S9 Plus
  • Samsung-sm-a505fn
  • Samsung-sm-g970f
  • Samsung-sm-g973f
  • Samsung-sm-g975f
  • Samsung-sm-j415fn
  • Huawei-lya-l09
  • Huawei-P20
  • Huawei-P20 Pro
  • Huawei-sne-lx1
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8
  • Google Pixel 4

If a handset is listed above but is running software that’s older than the app’s requirements, updating to a newer version is a simple process.

How to upgrade an iPhone’s iOS

  1. Open Settings > General > About > Software Version. This will display the software version that handset is currently running.
  2. To update a compatible iPhone, firstly back up everything on the handset, ensure it’s connected to Wi-Fi and plug it in to charge.
  3. Open Settings > General > Software Update > Download, then Install. If a handset is up to date, it will display: ‘Your software is up to date‘.

How to upgrade an Android phone’s software

  1. Open Settings > About Phone/About Device > Android Version to find out the version the handset is currently using
  2. To back it up, make sure the phone is plugged in, connected to Wi-Fi and backed up.
  3. Choose Settings > About Phone/About Device > Check > Update. Depending on the current software, choose from Install NowReboot and install or Install System Software.


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