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MP4 vs. 3GP — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 13, 2023
MP4 is a versatile digital multimedia container format, whereas 3GP is a multimedia format optimized for mobile and low-bandwidth applications, utilizing lower storage and simpler encoding.
MP4 vs. 3GP — What's the Difference?

Difference Between MP4 and 3GP


Key Differences

MP4 and 3GP are digital multimedia formats, both facilitating the storage and transmission of audio-visual data. The MP4 format is known for its ability to hold multiple types of media content, presenting a comprehensive platform for multimedia storage and streaming.
In contrast, 3GP is essentially engineered for mobile devices. Developed with a focus on minimizing storage demands, 3GP uses simpler encoding schemes and lesser bandwidth, providing practicality in environments where resources are limited.
The MP4 format is celebrated for its compatibility and quality, establishing itself as a widely accepted standard in multimedia technology. With capabilities to store audio, video, images, and text, MP4 adapts to numerous applications in various domains.
3GP, while lacking the extensive application scope and universal compatibility of MP4, serves an essential role in accommodating multimedia content in mobile communications. It ensures that media is accessible, even in networks with stringent bandwidth constraints.
MP4 and 3GP differentiate notably in terms of quality, compatibility, and application suitability. While MP4 caters to a broad array of media applications with its high-quality rendering, 3GP carves a niche in mobile communications with its resource-efficient design.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

General multimedia content
Mobile and low-bandwidth applications


Wide compatibility with various devices
Primarily compatible with mobile devices


Generally high quality
Usually lesser quality due to compression

File Size

Can be large due to higher quality
Smaller due to compression and lower quality

Encoding Complexity

More complex encoding
Simpler encoding

Compare with Definitions


A multimedia container format that stores audio, video, and text.
My presentation is saved as an MP4 because it contains both video and text.


A multimedia format designed for mobile phones.
My old cellphone records videos in the 3GP format.


Commonly used for streaming over the Internet.
Online platforms often use MP4 for streaming videos to users.


Employs simpler encoding to minimize file size.
The 3GP format reduces video file sizes, making them easier to send via MMS.


Compatible with numerous devices and platforms.
MP4 files can be played on various devices without needing a special player.


Specifically developed to accommodate mobile and cellular networks.
3GP is beneficial in regions with slower mobile network speeds for video sharing.


Supports various encoding formats like H.264 and AAC.
MP4 supports H.264 video encoding, which provides excellent video quality.


Generally delivers lower quality compared to MP4.
Though practical, the 3GP format usually presents videos in lower quality.


Known for high-quality video and audio streaming.
I prefer MP4 for streaming movies due to its superior quality.


Optimized for low bandwidth and storage usage.
Using 3GP helps save data when streaming videos on mobile networks.

Common Curiosities

Why is MP4 widely used in video streaming platforms?

MP4 offers high-quality video, wide compatibility, and can store varied multimedia content.

Can MP4 hold subtitles and images along with video?

Yes, MP4 can contain video, audio, text, and images within a single file.

How does 3GP conserve data usage on mobile networks?

3GP uses simpler encoding and compression to reduce file sizes, saving data during transfer.

Can 3GP videos be converted to MP4?

Yes, numerous converters can change 3GP videos to MP4 format and vice versa.

Why might one choose 3GP for mobile video transmission?

3GP’s smaller file sizes and simpler encoding are beneficial for limited bandwidth and storage.

Is MP4 better than 3GP for online video platforms?

MP4 is often favored for its superior quality and broader compatibility across devices and browsers.

Is 3GP suitable for HD video playback?

No, 3GP is generally utilized for lower-quality videos due to its compression and simplicity.

Can I play a 3GP file on my computer?

Yes, several media players on computers can play 3GP files.

Are MP4 files larger than 3GP files?

Typically, yes. MP4 files are often larger due to their higher quality and complexity.

Is 3GP still relevant with today's high-speed internet?

While less prevalent, 3GP remains relevant for specific uses, especially in low-bandwidth scenarios.

How do MP4 and 3GP compare in terms of global usage?

MP4 is more universally used due to its quality and compatibility, while 3GP is now less common.

Is MP4 suitable for professional video editing?

Yes, MP4 is often used in video editing due to its quality and compatibility.

Can MP4 be used for audio-only files?

Yes, MP4 can store audio-only files, sometimes with the M4A file extension.

What is the typical quality difference between MP4 and 3GP?

MP4 generally offers higher quality, while 3GP is optimized for lesser quality to save resources.

Will converting an MP4 to 3GP reduce the file size?

Generally, yes. Converting to 3GP typically reduces file size due to its compressed nature.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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