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The Comparison between iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS

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With even a quick glance, major differences between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS are readily apparent. Below is the detailed comparison between iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS for you to refer.


iPhone 4


The iPhone 4 uses an entirely new all stainless steel body design with sharper, more angular lines and a thin "metal band" that wraps around the sides of the phone. This metal band has integrated mobile and data antennas and is designed to improve reception compared to earlier iPhone models.

The iPhone 4 has a high-resolution 960x640 at 326 ppi 3.5", IPS, LED-backlit display with an 800:1 contrast ratio that Apple refers to as a "retina display."

The company uses this name because 326 pixels per inch (ppi) is said to exceed the 300 ppi that the human eye is able to differentiate individual pixels from twelve inches away. As a result, content on the display should look more like that in a printed book than on a computer screen.


Although some have taken Apple to task for this claim, and instead have stated a more accurate "retina display" calculation would be 477 ppi, magazines are commonly printed at 300 dpi and the iPhone 4 display is decidedly high-quality for a mobile device.

The iPhone 4 has a chemically hardened "aluminosilcate" glass front over both the display and either a white or black frame and a chemically hardened white or black glass back as well.


iPhone 3GS

By contrast, the iPhone 3GS uses a largely plastic design with a more prominent metal "lip" around the edge of the front and has a black or white plastic back. iPhone 3GS models with a white plastic back -- discontinued configurations with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage -- still have a black front, whereas white iPhone 4 models have both a white front and back.

The back of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are considerably different beyond material -- glass and plastic, respectively -- as the iPhone 4 is flat and the iPhone 3GS is more rounded and tapered toward the edges. The iPhone 4 is a great deal thinner as well, 0.37 inches (9.3 mm) compared to 0.48 inches (12.3 mm) for its predecessor. If you're keeping score, the iPhone 4 is reported to weigh 2 grams more than the iPhone 3GS but this difference is unlikely to be perceptible.

For the benefit of future readers, when such identification information may be useful, the model numbers printed on the back are different as well. The standard iPhone 3GS is model number A1303, the mainland China-only iPhone 3GS without Wi-Fi is A1325, and the iPhone 4 is A1332.

The display on the iPhone 3GS also is 3.5 inches but is only 320x480 at 163 ppi with a 200:1 contrast ratio, noticeably lower resolution than the 960x640 at 326 ppi display on the iPhone 4. Both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 have "oleophobic" oil repellent coatings on the front, but the iPhone 4 has the same coating on the glass back as well.

The audio visual capabilities of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are a major point of differentiation. The iPhone 4 has dual cameras -- a 5 megapixel HD video/still camera (720p at 30 FPS) with a "backside illuminated sensor," a 5X digital zoom, and an LED flash on the rear and a VGA quality video/still camera on the front designed for video conferencing over a Wi-Fi network with Apple's included "FaceTime" application. For now, unfortunately, "FaceTime" video conferencing only works between two iPhone 4 models. The iPhone 4 has dual noise-canceling microphones as well.

The iPhone 3GS, by comparison, has a single 3.0 megapixel camera with VGA video recording at 30 FPS and a single microphone. Both models have autofocus, macro, and white balance support, and "tap to focus" features although the iPhone 4 is reported to have a superior macro mode. The iPhone 3GS has basic "video editing" capabilities -- you can cut the beginning and end of a clip "in camera" -- but the iPhone 4 goes much further. When paired with a new iMovie application -- available for purchase separately for US$4.99 -- the iPhone 4 supports a variety of more full featured video editing and effects capabilities.

Internally, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS models are considerably different as well. The iPhone 4 has an "Apple A4" processor of unspecified speed and the iPhone 3GS has an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600 MHz (downclocked from 800 MHz).

The iPhone 3GS supports 3G UMTS/HSDPA networks and the iPhone 4 supports UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA networks for compatibility with more cellular carriers worldwide. Both models support the slower GSM/EDGE networks and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR as well. Both support Wi-Fi, but the iPhone 3GS supports 802.11b/g and the iPhone 4 supports the same 802.11b/g in addition to the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n. The iPhone 4 uses a Micro SIM whereas the iPhone 3GS uses a Mini SIM (more commonly called simply a SIM card).

Both models include an accelerometer, proximity sensors, an ambient light sensor, A-GPS, and a digital compass but the iPhone 4 adds a three-axis gyroscope for more 3D gaming options. As originally shipped, the iPhone 3GS had 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, and the iPhone 4 ships with the same capacity options, but the iPhone 3GS was "downgraded" to a mere 8 GB of storage -- with a lower price tag -- when the iPhone 4 was released.

Battery life has been increased on the iPhone 4 when compared to the iPhone 3GS too. Apple reports that audio playback has been increased to 40 hours from 30, talk time on 2G to 14 hours from 12, talk time on 3G to 7 hours from 5, Internet use on Wi-Fi to 10 hours from 9, amd internet use on 3G to 6 hours from 5. Each provides an estimated 10 hours of video playback and 300 hours of standby time.

Pricing in the United States for the iPhone 4 is the same as it was for the iPhone 3GS when it was released -- US$199 for the entry-level model and US$299 for the high-end model, offered with 16 GB and 32 GB of storage, respectively with a two-year AT&T contract. Both capacities are available in black or white for the same price. Note that this pricing is for "qualified" customers only. For "non-qualified" customers or those "who wish to buy iPhone as a gift," the price of these devices with a new two-year agreement is US$599 or US$699.

A newly introduced iPhone 3GS with 8 GB of storage in black only is available for US$99, again, for "qualified" customers with a two-year AT&T wireless contract.

For your convenience, the main differences between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS also have been summarized below:




Apple iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS


Apple iPhone 4

iPhone 4

Processor Speed:

600 MHz

1 GHz*

Processor Type:

ARM Cortex A8

Apple A4

Standard RAM:

256 MB

256 MB*

Standard Storage:

8 GB** (16, 32 GB)

16 GB, 32 GB

Display Resolution:



Display PPI:

163 ppi

326 ppi

Contrast Ratio:



Oleophobic Coating:


Front & Back

Housing Material:

Glass & Plastic

Glass & Steel

Front Color:


Black or White

Back Color:

Black or White**

Black or White

Camera Megapixels:

3.0 Megapixels

5.0 Megapixels

Video Recording:


720p & VGA

LED Light/Flash:



Dual Cameras:



Dual Microphones:





















Digital Compass:









Talk Time (3G):

5 Hours

7 Hours

Talk Time (2G):

12 Hours

14 Hours

Battery Life (Web - 3G):

5 Hours

6 Hours

Battery Life (Web - Wi-Fi):

9 Hours

10 Hours

Battery Life (Music):

30 Hours

40 Hours

Battery Life (Video):

10 Hours

10 Hours

Standby Time:

300 Hours

300 Hours

SIM Card:



OS Support:

iOS 4

iOS 4

Dimensions (Inches):

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48

4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37


4.8 oz. (135 g)

4.8 oz. (137 g)

Model No:



Price (As Introduced):

US$199, US$299†

US$199, US$299§

Price (Current):


US$199, US$299§


Apple provides no official information regarding technical details for the iPhone 4 and this information is speculative. This may be subject to change when the iPhone 4 ships.
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