Google no longer disables Google Messages for “non-certified” Android devices March 31. This change shouldn’t affect most of you, but it does beg the question: what exactly is an “uncertified” Android device and how do you make sure you’re not using one?

What it means when an Android device is “not certified”

Uncertified devices have failed Google’s Android compatibility test to ensure they meet Google’s quality and safety standards. Some newer Android devices are temporarily not certified when they are first released, but will be certified later when the process is complete. In other cases, a non-certified device could mean that the manufacturer did not submit the device for Google certification or that it failed.

According to Google’s support pageThere are several risks and disadvantages to using an unverified Android device:

  • Devices that aren’t Play Protect certified might not be safe.
  • Devices that are not Play Protect certified may not receive Android system updates or app updates.
  • Google Apps on devices that aren’t Play Protect certified are unlicensed and may not be genuine Google Apps.
  • Apps and features on devices that are not Play Protect certified may not work properly.
  • Data on devices that are not Play Protect certified may not be backed up securely.

These security risks are the reason why Google bans Google Messages on uncertified phones. Without the Play Store reviews, Google cannot ensure that the app’s end-to-end encryption is properly configured, which could put your messages and personal information at risk.

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That said, not all non-certified Android phones are dangerous. In some cases, rooting your phone or making other system-level changes will revoke a device’s certification. Many modders can work around this and usually make these changes if they know the risks. Fortunately, you can undo a root and restore your device to certification status.

How to check if your phone is certified

The average person is unlikely to accidentally use an uncertified Android device, especially in the US – but it’s not impossible. Some uncertified devices are from well-known brands that Google no longer supports. For example, newer Huawei devices are not certified and cannot currently apply for certification in the United States

You can confirm that your Android phone is certified through the Google Play Store settings.

  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap the three-line button in the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Choose “The settings” from the sidebar.
  4. Scroll down to “Over” Section. Under “Device Certification” it will say too “Certified” or “Not certified.”

If your device is certified, you can continue using Google Messages without any problems. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a new messaging app or device (or remove your device). However, if you think your device is incorrectly not certified, make sure the handset is turned on Google’s (long) list of supported Android devices. If you have any discrepancies, contact Google and the manufacturer of the device.